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My Strategies for Creativity / It’s OK to Scratch

March 31, 2010

Twyla Tharp has this idea of scratching — the process creative people should be undertaking when they’re not active working on a project, but searching for ideas.

I love this idea; since I read the book, I’ve thought about how to scratch in design. At first, I thought my scratching should be drawing. I think I was still influenced by a chip on my shoulder about not being able to draw better (still have that, actually). Now, this seems so silly — even though I thought that way only last April, I feel like this idea of scratching just reveals a certain
misunderstanding about design I had — and quite nicely, shows how far I’ve come already in school.

Anyways, these are things that seem to help me get ideas:
-reading design writing
-getting enough sleep
-seeing other people’s work, esp. what is concretely related to the project -seeing completely different art, esp that which is somehow random, arbitrary, i..e that I happen onto by an act of wandering, doddling, ogling, etc.
-the moments between: i.e. walking somewhere, getting somewhere on subway. Crucially cannot be listening to ipod.

Getting enough sleep is not scratching, but a sad necessity of my life. But everything else is; these, the “in-between” moments seems to be weirdly the hardest to enact — the biggest downside of biking; it’s hard for me to get to that stage of passive thinking that lets me get to big ideas while on my bike — I think my brain is just simply too much occupied with safety circumstances, etc.

The reading design writing is a huge surprise for me–the biggest discovery of this year. I’ve found READING stuff, not just looking at images (which is what I used to do in the past) really gets my brain working. Not sure what it is; Seth Godin talks about tacking specific problems in a coffee shop so that he can get distracted and then from the periphery of his brain get ideas for the specific problem at hand. (I think this is the same thing I’m getting at with the “in-between” moments) and I’ve been thinking that maybe that is a sort of activity that my brain can get distracted by and then look at specific problems from a different angle.

Wandering + doddling — have been nice things to accept in my maturing process as things that are not bad parts of me, but potentially quite powerful tools that have led me to new ideas and down different directions. Which is nice to be able to embrace that part of me.

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