Humans love patterns. Whether it is recognising them or just following them, there are few things we love doing more than what’s already been done before. Patterns usually come in the form of trends and worldly conventions. They stem from someone else’s thoughts to become our very own. Patterns are everywhere; they’re in nature, in relationships, in art and basically in all of life. Just about the only place that isn’t a home for patterns, is the mind of a creative.
Don’t get me wrong, the status quo has its relevance. And in the spirit of patterns, here’s a common cliche most people would be familiar with; “Rules were meant to be broken.” An arguable statement, since it defeats the exact purpose of rules, but one that a good number subscribe to, particularly because the general consensus is that rules stifle creativity. That, however, isn’t necessarily true.
The greatest creatives aren’t the ones who just broke the rules, they’re the ones who bent them. Understanding the conventions and standardised ways of thinking, as well as the reasons for their existence, allows you to break the rules in ways that don’t steer you towards the very dangers that rules are trying to protect you from. Darious Benson, a YouTuber and Film-maker, puts this quite well; the ones who just compromise the rules usually just end up compromising everything else. (That was not verbatim)
That now being said, conventional thinking can make a person a drone to the times. In a creative’s mind, patterns are not tenants but merely visitors. We can take from them what we will, but only with the goal of creating something completely new and different. Creativity is the rebuke of all cliches but it has one in particular on its hit list; “There’s nothing new under the sun.”
Perspective is key in creativity. Looking at issues, ideas and concepts in a way that is different from what one’s used is probably one of the most effective ways to finding a new solution to that problem. New angles, viewpoints and windows into the soul of the creative problem will enable us to see new ways to solve the same idea. For each new perspective, a potentially brilliant solution is there waiting.
Rapid ideation can be a great resultant of changing perspectives. More and more ideas come with the new insights that we gain. However, there’s more to it than that. With the increasing volume of ideas that one produces for a problem, one discovers the very heights of his creativity thinking. We can never know how far can go unless we push itself to the furthest point. We know our limits when we reach them, and any creative should have minimal self-confidence of knowing that their first ideas are not their furthest point.
Here’s an interesting exercise that I did in order to practice these principles of creative thinking.
- Come up with your own original descriptions for the following cliched expressions:
- It’s raining cats and dogs – Buckets are falling from the sky
- It’s like selling ice to Eskimos – They practically pay me for oxygen
- He had piercing blue eyes – I was drowning in the oceans that were his blue eyes
- Bee in your bonnet – She’s a relative of fire ants
- Drunk as a skunk – A drunk sailor could’ve driven him home
- Not the brightest porch light on the block – He went to prison for stealing IQ points
- As quiet as a mouse – She might as well be a wall
- Fall like a lead balloon – Fall like a duck in hunting season
- Once upon a time – When shadows were the clocks of men
- Take the following abstract words and describe them in concrete terms
- Laziness – Laziness is male lions, sloths and anyone who’s gone out the bathroom without washing their hands.
- Ecstasy – Ecstasy is smiles, laughs and the grinch everyday of the year except Christmas
- Envy – Envy is the girl who is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen on two legs…with your best friend.
- Bitterness – Bitterness is lemons, cough syrup and Trump when talks about the media
- Pleasure – Pleasure is Ferrero Roche, bubble baths and champagne you didn’t pay for.
- Lust – Lust is 50 shades of grey, Netflix and chill, and apparently Spongebob Squarepants
- Love – Love is centuries worth of clichés in romance films, novels and songs.
- Joy – Joy is the leading protagonist of Inside Out.