Creativity is about connecting ideas

No matter how long you stare at that blank page(creative block), it’s not going to magically give you that perfect idea you need. In fact, staring at a blank page is pretty much the worst thing you can do. The goal is to stop waiting for inspiration to strike and start mixing (or combining two generic) ideas until a brilliant one shows itself.

Ideas are made from finding relationships between existing elements.

An idea is nothing more(or less) than a new combination of old elements and the capacity to bring old elements into new combinations depends largely on the ability to see relationships. Cultivating ideas is a process, and one that we can practice to produce more (and hopefully better) ideas.

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As an exercise, take two concepts, regardless of whether they belong together, and see what you can make out of it. This exercise in itself can help get your creative juices flowing. Ideas breed ideas. The classic technique is by putting things together that don’t go together.

In an Information economy, creativity is an important skill and also one among the most misunderstood ideas. Author Kirby Ferguson argues that creativity comes from copying, transforming, and combining other works.

Growing up makes us less creative

Therefore we have to re-learn creativity, and luckily there are multiple ways to do so.

Creativity is not just about art – it is one of the most crucial human traits. It lies at the heart of innovation, thus it is not a superficial skill but a necessity for human survival.

It’s compelling to believe there’s a route to true creative thinking, and there are certainly ways to help yourself engage, but many times a great idea will just feel like it came from a simple realization and you won’t know exactly why. Creativity is about connecting things. You may think there’s more to it than that, but it has lot to do with finding unique ways to connect the dots. Artists/creatives make connections that others don’t. Those connections just seemed obvious to them after a while.

Once you start connecting the dots, you’ll see how your perspective towards many things in life changes. Somewhere in the process of drawing a line between two things that seemed impossibly different was the inspiration for better creative work.

I often try putting creative process in this way: Place A in the context of B and suddenly you have C. New ideas to me are quite often letting your brain connect things you have not connected before, and create something new from the already existing. Ideas are not something that just pop into our head. A developed idea is a result of a process, an evolution. An idea is a culmination of everyone’s effort who inspired you beforehand.

Self-imposed constraints when you have none, can improve your work.

I’m used to imposing my own constraints in work. Without any constraints, at times it feels there is too much freedom. When a client gives you restrictions, they make a lot of decisions for you. But, when you work on your own projects, the process is a little different: In the free creative process you have to search for the limitations yourself and then have to work around those restrictions to create something amazing. If you’re given a clean, fresh palette, and you do whatever you want, it’s almost too much freedom.

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Constraints usually make me think in a different way than I would naturally think. I find constraints make the process a little more enjoyable and the final output is usually something I’m more proud of. Constraints can be different for different people and situations, for some it is in way of short deadlines, which help put an idea into practice quickly and rely more on gut feeling without time to second-guess it.

How to have great ideas more often?

Familiar with this adage, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” Three key elements of creativity—copy, transform, and combine—are the building blocks of all original ideas. In short, everything is a remix.

  • Copy: No one starts out original. We cannot create anything new until we have a solid foundation of knowledge and understanding in our line of work. Copying is how we learn.
  • Transform: Taking an idea and creating variations. Major advances are usually not original ideas, but the breaking point in a long history of progress by many different individuals.
  • Combine: The most dramatic results happen when various ideas are combined together. By connecting ideas together, creative leaps can be made.

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Having a unique voice helps to differentiate and stand out. Just don’t forget, you’re also standing on the shoulders of others. Creativity is not the output of a vacuum, rather summary of many inputs.


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3 thoughts on “Creativity is about connecting ideas

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  2. Hey, Deepak. You are turning very intelligent man. Loads of mind god has already given you and you keep on boosting it. Keep it up man, I love that & ofcourse you too. Lol. I think you know this. Great information. Do keep on posting this kind of stuff always.Your childhood friend Nisha

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