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Book notes: Creativity — a short and cheerful guide

Book notes: Creativity — a short and cheerful guide


I don’t read book summaries. Neither should you. The following are mostly notes to myself, and are my interpretations.

I re-read this book this year. There are a handful of books that I re-read (try to) at least once a year. This is a super short read and highly recommend it. I'd recommend you get a copy and skip the notes.

On thinking & practicing

Creativity simply means new ways of thinking about things. Put the work in before going to bed, you'll often have some creative ideas over the night.

You can drive from your home to your place of work, perfectly safely, without having to concentrate on every single muscular process involved, even though your mind is absorbed by something else. Of course, if the unusual or unexpected occurs, your consciousness snaps straight in and you immediately become much more aware, so that you can deal with whatever it is that has happened. Or think of something even more complex, like playing the piano. When someone's doing that, they are not consciously thinking which key they have to hit with which finger. Their unconscious knows how to do that. But only because they practice and practice and practice. This intelligent unconscious of ours, then, is astoundingly powerful. The language of the unconscious is not verbal.

Hare brain is quick, purposeful thinking and less purposeful and clear-cut, more playful, leisurely or dreamy where we're mulling over and not solving it. You need more quiet time for tortoise thinking. When we're trying to be creative, there's a real lack of clarity during most of the process. Book link at the end of the post.

One kind of creative architects know play; they are child like, have fun/ enjoy, and are spontaneous. The second type of creative architects always deferred making decisions for as long as they were allowed. An important question to ask always is, "When does this decision have to be made?"

On writing & creating

Write about what you know & take inspiration.

The greatest killer of creativity is interruption. It takes about eight minutes for you to return to your previous state of consciousness, and up to twenty minutes to get back into a state of deep focus.

Feynman spent a lot of time playing the drums. The great mathematician John Conway spent much of his time playing games. Playing… keeps you "fresh".

Brevity is the soul of wit. Remember the following apology, "Sorry this is such a long letter, but I didn't have time to write a shorter one." So, when you finish your first draft:

  • Cut anything that is not relevant (there will be more than you think)

  • Don't repeat yourself unless you really want to.

If you are an experienced writer, and you show people your work, there are four questions you need to ask:

  1. Where were you bored?

  2. Where could you not understand what was going on?

  3. Where did you not find things credible?

  4. Was there anything that you found emotionally confusing?

Recommended next reads from the book:

© Copyright 2023, I guess.

© Copyright 2024, I guess.