Lately, I’ve been listening to The Creative Thinkers Toolkit by Prof Gerard Puccio. It’s a great course which is making me think about creativity in new ways.
One point I found particularly interesting was shared during the lecture Combining Opposites—Diverge, Then Converge.
Puccio calls out two different mindsets that lead to heightened creative thinking: divergent and convergent thinking. Here are the horribly simplified explanations of these ideas. Divergent thinking is basically the process of brainstorming without limiting yourself. Convergent thinking is the filtering process used to take ideas and pick the best ones.
What impacted me while listening was, these two thought processes are necessary for peak creative thinking but when used incorrectly they can actually stifle your creativity. If you filter out bad ideas while brainstorming, you are actively limiting your imagination.
So what’s the best way to generate highly creative ideas? Do what Hemmingway did. Whenever Hemmingway came up with a book title, he would list out hundreds of title ideas. He would then go through them and strike them off the list one by one until one or none were left. He may do this several times until he found the perfect title. He also did this with the last lines of his novels.
So it looks like quantity leads to quality. The more idea’s you generate, the more creative you’re forced to become, and the more you have to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Do this often enough, and creative thought becomes more natural. Not only are you generating a better final idea, but you’re also getting better at generating ideas at all because of this listing process.
This is something I struggle with, so a new goal for myself: generate more. It’s time to put my divergent brain into action. If you want to dive in deeper to this idea and others like it, I highly recommend checking out The Creative Thinkers Toolkit on audible.