People often go through a certain process when being creative. They go through the stages of opening up and closing down. They do this when solving a problem, painting a picture, writing a book or whatever. Let’s explore how this works in practice.
1) You can start by opening up.
Imagine you want to pursue a specific project. You may want to educate your child at home, lead an expedition, build a house or whatever. You will often start by opening up and gathering lots of information about the topic.
Different people do this in different ways. So you may aim, for example:
* To gather information through reading, surfing the Internet or other activities.
* To learn from positive models and explore the idea with other people.
* To reflect, let your mind wander and do some slow thinking.
Exploration is fun, but eventually you say: “Enough. Now I need to focus.” You will feel ready to make sense of the information. This calls for moving on to the next stage.
2) You can move-on to closing down.
You will act on this closing down process in most creative activities. Sifting through the information, you will aim:
* To clarify the key themes that have emerged.
* To clarify the themes you want to explore further.
* To clarify how exploring these themes will enable you to achieve the final goal.
There are many techniques that people use for sifting information, making breakthroughs and then moving onto the next stage of investigation.
Carl Honore, the author of In Praise of Slow, believes we need to get the right balance between fast thinking and slow thinking. Fast thinking enables us to gather lots of information. But many of our creative breakthroughs come when we have the chance to do some slow thinking.
You will choose your own way of closing down. This will lead to the next stage you want to explore on the road towards achieving your final goal.
3) You can continue opening up and closing down until you have completed the project.
"I follow this process when writing a book," said one person. "The first step is to map out the whole book. This is then broken down into milestones. These often take the form of chapters which are broken down into sections."
"Each section includes themes that I want to cover. These are broken down into headlines, paragraphs and examples that will bring the writing to life. So by the end of the planning phase I have a detailed road map for completing the book."
"I then move on to the actual writing. This involves exploring the first topic, writing many ideas and sifting these down into prose. Then it is on the next topic. I follow this process until I have completed the book."
Try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to go through three steps.
* To describe a specific creative project you want to tackle.
* To describe the specific things you can do to open up and close down throughout the various stages of the project.
* To describe how you can ensure the project is completed successfully.
There are many ways to do creative work. You will, of course, pursue your own way. Try completing the following exercise.