Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Forays In Fiction: Creativity

A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative (25th Anniversary Edition)
by Roger von Oech
(c) 1983; 2008
Published by: Business Plus

My sister handed me her copy of this book this evening saying that she thought it was something I'd be interested in. I was flipping through it a bit idly getting a kick out of the cartoon illustrations that fill more than fifty percent of the space, reading the quotes heading up sections and glancing at some of the section headings. Much of it seemed familiar and I suspect I may have read an earlier edition of it. Which wouldn't be too surprising seeing as how the source of creativity and ways of stimulating it has been one of my passionate interests for decades.

As I grazed the pages with my eyes a snide inner voice asked what more I needed to know about creativity anyway. 'You already have sixteen novels in progress,' it sneered. 'Not to mention three websites with two more in the planning stages, a half dozen needlework projects in process and dozens more waiting in line and...and...etc. Getting ideas is not your problem so why be fiddling away your precious time with this book now? You need to be working on today's Friday Forays post and you're just procrastinating because you don't want to admit you let a whole week slide through your fingers without doing one significant thing for any of your fiction WIP. Significant? Strike that 'cause you've done squat for your stories for seven whole days.'

Just as I was about to shut the book with a sigh, my eyes landed on this line on page 228:

Ideas are great, but they aren't worth much if you don't use them. It's important for you to get your ideas into action. Your problem is that you're not using all four roles of the creative process.
OK that was spooky. Like the book poked that sentence out to answer that snide self-flagellation. And of course I had to find out what those four roles were:

Explorer=info and resource gathering
Artist=idea generating
Judge=evaluating info and idea
Warrior=implementing ideas aka Making It Happen.

The role titles are Oech's the descriptions are my shorthand for his.

Oech explains that the most effective creative people are those who can shift between these four roles at need. I realized that my Explorer, Artist and Judge are all well developed but that I tend to get stuck in one or the other of them for inexorable periods of time. I also had to admit that my warrior was a wimp. I eagerly read through the rest of this last chapter for the tips on how to activate the Warrior:

Take A Whack At It aka Step up to the plate aka Just do it
Put A Lion in Your Heart aka Take heart aka Have courage of your convictions aka Believe
Get Support aka surround yourself with those who expect nothing less than success from you
Get Rid of Excuses aka Burn your bridges aka Kick Ms Yeah But to the curb
Flex Your Risk Muscle aka Take chances
Have Something At Stake aka Put your money where your mouth is. Where money stands for whatever is of most value to you.
Be Dissatisfied aka Change it up aka Don't settle
Use Your Shield aka Grow a thick skin
Sell, Sell, Sell aka Know what its good for: give three answers for the end user's question: "What's in it for me?"
Set a Deadline aka Be goal oriented. Use time as a whip
Be Persistent aka Try, try again!

The phrases in bold above are Oech's ten tips and those following are my paraphrases or well known cliches close in meaning. The scorecard for my wimpy warrior is zero across the board. For a bit I thought maybe WW had some strengths in the Be Dissatisfied area. But that is probably just my propensity to get stuck in the Judge role wanting to keep fiddling and fixing and fussing.

Visit Oech's blog where you can find many tips like those in this book. Also other books and products like this creativity toy the Ball of Whacks:

Oh, wow!! I want for my desk toy collection. That's better than Koosh Balls! Maybe even better than Rubrik's Cube.

0 tell me a story:

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