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The dance of the possible by Scott Berkun


My notes

The obsession with studying creativity is a modern invention.

Basic rule: if there is something you want to do, do it, and do it often. To improve (faster), seek advice from people who've been where you are.

Creativity as novelty is always relative; what one person finds new or interesting might be boring old news to someone else.

We spend so much time and effort trying to be more efficient, that doing anything (else) interesting feels like a waste of time.

Get comfortable asking yourself these questions:

If your goal is to find interesting things, will it matter which direction you go in first?

To explore, you must do things where you are not sure of the outcome.

The simplest way to get started is to keep a journal. We don't notice how much we forget, so it's critical to preserve our ideas. Journaling also lets us capture hidden patterns in our ideas.

All ideas are made of other ideas. It is hard to see this because by the time we experience an idea, it seems complete on its own. The act of creating an idea is always an act of bringing together existing ideas.

A recipe for finding ideas:

All projects are a dance between two forces; expanding to consider more ideas (divergence), and shrinking to narrow things down enough to finish (convergence). Embrace the dance.

Developing ideas is easier if you are able to generate a big list of ideas to work from.

Developing an idea into a concept is a matter of adding the next level of detail to each promising option, which then allows you to ask the next level of detailed questions.

Don't fear the ambiguity of what is good; this is an unavoidable part of the creative experience. Every challenge to your idea of what is good is an opportunity to see your creation from a new point of view.

When exploring ideas, keep a scrap pile and avoid making final judgments on the pile.

Learn how to improvise.

Three gaps between ideas and implementation: effort gap, skill gap, quality gap.

Many talented people don't develop their skills because they hate feeling these gaps; they're embarrassed or tortured by it.

One way to stay motivated to close these gaps is to study the history of people you admire.

To be perfectly satisfied with something you made likely means you didn't learn anything meaningful along the way.

If you feel love for your craft, honor it by showing up, even when it is hard. Especially when it is hard. If you are truly passionate about something, you must be willing to make the sacrifices to make it possible.

How to get into flow: prepare, incubate, gain insight, evaluate, elaborate. 3 out of these 5 steps (incubate, gain insight, evaluate) involve making time to do nothing, to let your subsconscious work. You need to be immersed in your creation to be able to make subsconscious connections between ideas.

Learn to separate feedback, which is about the work you have made, from encouragement, which is about you as a person. Always be clear in what you are asking for, and make sure it is clear to the person you are asking.

Learn to handle rejection: you are not your creations.