posted by Ian Summers on December 5th, 2006
What are Idea Stimulators?
Idea Stimulators were created in the spirit of free association and Heartstorming. They have not been pre-judged. They are presented exactly as they were conceived. This project was started seven years ago and was directed primarily towards photographers. Heartstormers now include anyone who wishes to manifest what they love or what matters. I have edited the material to work for any creator. I invite feedback from those of you who use any of these ideas as points of departure for your own work.
These concepts are offered as idea stimulators. They invite change, additions, alterations, concept extensions, new ideas. I see this as an experiment and it’s offered in that spirit. Make the concepts about you. Select the ideas that are challenging, stimulating, and motivating to you. Make them as original as possible. Each Stimulator may produce an infinite number of ideas. It is not likely that any two will be alike. In fact, here is what Richard Lederer said in The Miracle of Language about the chances of any two ideas being identical:
…computer studies have shown that it would take ten trillion years — two thousand times the estimated age of the Earth — to utter all the possible English sentences that use exactly twenty words. Therefore, it is unlikely that any twenty word sentence an individual speaks has ever been spoken previously. The same conclusion holds true, of course, for sentences of greater length and for most shorter sentences as well. That is why most every sentence that you are reading in this book, as well as in all books, newspapers and magazines that have been written and are yet to be written, is expressed, or will be expressed, in its exact form for the first time.
There is one more intriguing fact to consider. Not only do you spend your days reading sentences that you have never encountered, but you understand almost every one of them. Part of your humanness is your ability to invent new sentences and to comprehend the verbal inventions of other people…
How to Use Idea Stimulators
Be Positive - Suspend disbelief and keep a positive attitude. This world is filled with enough nay-saying.
Limit Judgment - Judging your ideas as you are producing them is like driving the car with the brake and accelerator on at the same time. While you are producing ideas, the pedal should be to the metal. The time to put on the brakes is when you are choosing which ideas to produce. Beware of inner voices of judgment. How many times have you had a good idea you talked you out of?
Detach from an Outcome – I recommend that you detach from a specific outcome when you creating new work. This means that when an idea comes up which produces the Eureka! response, execute the idea because your heart tells you to do it. Do not measure ideas by whether they will appeal to your stock agency, your portfolio, art buyers, picture editors, or… The only criteria ought to be that you love the idea enough to do what ever it takes to bring it into being.
Hitchhiking - Allow others to add to your idea. Your idea may stimulate something in a collaborator. Do not have so much pride in your idea that you think you own it. Give it away. There is an endless supply of ideas in the universe. As you can see by my entries, each concept may generate dozens of additional concepts. No two creators would interpret them the same way. And the purpose of this program is to stimulate you to produce your own concepts. And hitchhike on your own ideas by going back to your idea journal and reviewing and harvesting. One idea will often produce others related or not.
Quantity - Go for quantity. The more ideas the better. You have a better chance of coming up with an innovation, if there are dozens of ideas rather than just a few. Studies show that the first idea is rarely the best. The first half of ideas produced in a prolonged period of time were compared with those of the second half. The later contained 78% more good ideas. Imagine there are two sealed paper bags. One has one hundred ideas. The other has ten. Each bag costs $5.00 and you may only choose one. Chances are you would pick the bag with a hundred ideas because there is a better chance of finding a stimulating idea.
Write it Down - Write everything down as you are processing or you will forget it. Even the best human brain can not hold more than seven variables at a time. I like to keep a large pad with juicy markers handy. It helps me think bigger. When you have an idea write it down quickly. Trying to hold onto a thought may prevent you from coming up with your next idea. It contributes to creative block. Keep an idea journal.
Limit Editorializing – Many of us love our ideas so much that we feel a need to explain them over and over to ourselves and perhaps others. Don’t waste time and space explaining your ideas until you have chosen one to produce.
Incubate – This means sleep on it. When you begin ideating you may come up with hundreds of ideas. They will come to you when you least expect it like when you are driving and taking a shower or that moment of somnolence just before you fall asleep. Keep your journal at the side of your bed so you may record those moments or you will forget them. Include your dreams in this journal.
Have Fun – Creating should be a celebratory experience. Be playful.
Be Conscious Of Your Body - Problem solving is an activity that originates in the brain. Heartstorming comes from the body. We feel in our bodies not our hea
ds. Use your body to check-in: to focus on your feelings. For example, I often have a burning sensation in my throat when I am feeling fear. It reminds me that I am not saying something that represents my truth.
posted by Ian Summers on December 1st, 2006
The Heartstorming Philosophy
Like most of you, I think of myself as a damned good problem solver. In fact, that’s how I earned my living as a creative director for a couple of decades. As a consultant, I traveled the country helping clients maximize their creative potential via creative problem solving. I was well rewarded as a problem solver, however I felt something was missing. Then something changed. I discovered that creating and problem solving are the antithesis of each other. In problem solving, energy usually flows from the outside. Someone presents you with a problem; a client for example. Depending upon the complexities of the problem, alternative solutions are created, one is chosen, and if there is enough energy produced the solution is implemented. The problem is replaced with a solution. So problem solving is about making something go away — the problem.
Problem solving has often been confused with creating. In fact, many workshops have been developed to teach creative problem solving. And they usually are about solving someone else’s dreams. They promise to unleash your creativity, as if it was a monster that needs to be tied back up when you’re through with it. These dated methods reinforce the erroneous concept that creating is a shadowy activity. I believe creating is joyous and celebratory.
Don’t Unleash The Monster!
Creating is about manifesting. Its energies come from within. I define creating as causing what you love or what matters to you to come into being. Heartsorming is a process — a journey — that helps creators identify what they love and to empower themselves to bring those loves into being. It is an adventure. Heartstorming uses your own loves and dreams to produce an abundant source of energy resulting in creative growth.
Imagine rediscovering the love you already are. Imagine being out of your mind and into your heart. Imagine knowing what you love and finding ways to integrate it with your life’s mission. Imagine a heart based career producing prosperity and abundance. Imagine making a difference. Imagine learning new ways to deal with growth, change and risk. Imagine manifesting your loves in the world every day. Imagine…
Imagine Being Out of Your Mind
Creating is a process that originates in your body. Heartstorming helps people to drop from the place of judgment and into the body — the place of feelings. It is not that judgment isn’t important. It is. However, it comes later in the process. Good judgment helps to choose which ideas to manifest and problem solving will help you to bring your concept into being. If creating and judging go on simultaneously, it is like driving the car with the brake and the accelerator on at the same time. Movement is impeded. New ideas are blocked from emerging.
posted by Ian Summers on November 30th, 2006
I have spent a lot of time defining the creative process. I thought, if there was something in common with the ways we create and there was, indeed, some kind of process, then it would make sense to know where we are in the flow when performing an act of creation whether it is a photograph, a painting, a poem, a novel, a piece of music, new technology, a piece of fine art or even an advertisement. Perhaps, if we knew where we were in the process, we could become ‘more’ creative. To a large extent this has been prove to be true in the process of problem solving – certainly in the corporate world. Much has been written about how important it is to introduce creativity to seemingly non-creative people where creative problems come from the outside/in.
However, when we create from the inside/out the approach changes dramatically and the energy emerges in a different place. Heartstorming methodologies use this definition: Creating is causing what you love or what matters to you to come into being. While this is a truth, and I have built a career as a coach behind this theory, I recently had a recollection while in the middle of making a painting. I looked at my painting table which seemed to be cluttered with sketches, newspaper clippings, books, tools, tubs of water, brushes, spills, rags, newspapers, and what not. It appeared chaotic.
When I was a creative director, I would make account executives crazy by seeming to wait until the last minute to present an idea. In a sense, I was forcing my way into chaos. Unfortunately everyone around me judged it as disorganization or procrastination. The analytical mind rarely comprehends how chaos contributes to the creative process.
In the late sixties I was a member of an advertising Think Tank in New York known as The Farsight Group, we proposed this definition:
Creating is a process of making order out of chaos.
If that is so, then chaos must be encouraged. But what is chaos?
In Greek mythology Chaos is the primeval state of existence from which the first Gods appeared. Chaos was the nothingness out of which the first objects of existence appeared.
Ovid, in his Metamorphoses, described Chaos as “rather a crude and indigested mass, a lifeless lump, unfashioned and unframed, of jarring seeds and justly Chaos named”, a definition that has been in use ever since.
Chaos features three main characteristics:
• It is a bottomless gulf where anything falls endlessly: the Earth that will emerge from it to offer a stable ground radically contrasts with Chaos;
• It is a place without any possible orientation, where anything falls in every direction;
• It is a space that separates, that divides: after the Earth and the Sky parted, Chaos remains between both.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
Does this biblical passage tell us that creation comes from the void – from chaos?
In modern times, chaos has come to mean a state of utter confusion, of either things or events, or both.
Somewhere between the ancient and modern definitions is the place you find creativity. Chaos is a useful concept in many areas. Jean Piaget saw it as the starting point of education. Scientists are using it as a new way to describe certain forms or systems in nature and business people are learning to ride the wave of chaos into exciting new patterns of commerce.
On the back cover of If it Ain’t Broke, Break It by Robert J. Kniegel and Louis Patler, it says, “Today in the nineties, conventional wisdom can’t help you keep pace with these rapidly changing times… Today business people have to turn the old rules inside out, upside down, and backwards not only to succeed, but to survive.” Using chaos in these fast moving times breeds the creativity necessary to thrive.
For me, chaos is like jumping into a hardy soup that will support me for courage and trusting the process. My head bobs in the thick sludge. Thoughts are flying in every direction at the same time. There is a cacophony which reminds me of a zoo. It is all moving so fast. As long as I am a believer I shall not sink. In the periphery a thought appears. Another over there. And another. Ideas bubble to the top. I am able to synthesize thoughts that ordinarily would not make sense. But together they form a pattern. For the first time, the idea I have been working on comes together with clarity.
Chaos is one of the forces of creativity because it forces you to think in new ways. Because the human mind wants to find patterns in objects or happenings, it will take disparate items and find a pattern in them. By introducing random elements into a situation, new patterns, new ways of looking at a problem emerge.
Most of the writing I have found around chaos applies it to creative problem solving. This is the theory that creating is a synthesizing process and the more we have to synthesize, the greater our chances are to come up with an innovation. This demands that we approach chaos with a pre-determined problem. Most of you have played some of my creative games, which force fit seemingly unrelated ideas together. This is not so scary because we can trust that we will emerge from the primordial pit with something useful.
Imagine jumping into the pit with nothing concrete on your mind. Imagine sitting in the void where all things can move in all directions at the same time. Imagine stepping into the place from which all things have emerged.
I often do this when I begin a painting. Approaching a blank canvas, or in my case blank sheets of tar paper, requires no problem statement other than I want to make a painting. From the place of chaos, I begin to make marks. The marks evolve into something unrecognizable. Then in some unpredictable place I see something emerging. This is the thrill of painting for me. The painting begins to tell me what it is becoming. Somewhere else the shape becomes an eye or a hand or… It is like connecting the dots for me. In what ways is this related to that? This is pattern recognition. And that is how I bring order to chaos.
Some Things to Ponder?
When do you feel chaotic?
In what ways do you use chaos to inhibit or to contribute to the creative process?
What if you did not straighten up your workspace for one week?
Are you a pattern recognizer? How do you know?
What conditions need to be present to jump into chaos with both feet?