Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity

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9781118297704: Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity
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A science-backed method to maximize creative potential in any sphere of life

With the prevalence of computer technology and outsourcing, new jobs and fulfilling lives will rely heavily on creativity and innovation. Keith Sawyer draws from his expansive research of the creative journey, exceptional creators, creative abilities, and world-changing innovations to create an accessible, eight-step program to increasing anyone's creative potential. Sawyer reveals the surprising secrets of highly creative people (such as learning to ask better questions when faced with a problem), demonstrates how to come up with better ideas, and explains how to carry those ideas to fruition most effectively.

This science-backed, step-by step method can maximize our creative potential in any sphere of life.

  • Offers a proven method for developing new ideas and creative problem-solving no matter what your profession
  • Includes an eight-step method, 30 practices, and more than 100 techniques that can be launched at any point in a creative journey
  • Psychologist, jazz pianist, and author Keith Sawyer studied with world-famous creativity expert Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Sawyer's book offers a wealth of easy to apply strategies and ideas for anyone who wants to tap into their creative power.

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From the Author: Eight Simple Techniques For Greater Creativity

Creativity doesn't come from one brilliant idea; it's a way of life. Using Sawyer's techniques, new ideas come every day, leading you always further down the zig-zag path to greater creativity. Try these simple techniques, one for each of Sawyer's eight steps.

Find the right question

If you're stumped, it's often because you're asking the wrong question. Maybe your question is too narrow and focused, and you just need to think bigger. For example, instead of asking yourself "Should I repair my old car, or buy a new one?" try asking "Can I get a job within walking distance of home?" or "Can I move closer to public transportation?"

Prepare your mind

The most creative people are voracious learners; they dabble in things they know nothing about. Teach yourself something about weaponry, hypnosis, glass blowing, auto repair, Sufi mysticism...

Be aware

Research shows that the most creative people are more likely talk to lots of different people. So try this: Before you attend your next party or social event, choose a color. Then at the event, make a point of meeting and chatting with anyone who's wearing that color.

Free your mind

When you're facing a creative challenge, try to imagine it as a problem in a very different world, like Dentistry; Lawn care; Furniture design; Prison; The Circus. How would your problem look in that world? How would you try to solve it?

Generate ideas

You can increase your ability to generate good ideas by practicing idea generation every day in simple tasks. For example, make a long list of specific facts about how the world would be different: If gravity stopped for one second each day? If there were five sexes? Come up with your own idea challenges as you go through your day. In the kitchen: What if my refrigerator had 20 shelves? Preparing for bed at night: What if people could sleep standing up?

Combine ideas

The best insights come from combining ideas that are completely unrelated. Take out paper and pencil and sketch a piece of furniture that is also a kind of fruit; or, a lampshade that is also a kind of book; or, just pick two words at random by closing your eyes and pointing at different pages in a book, and invent a combination.

Make ideas even better

Once you have a few ideas, take each one of them (even the ones that aren't so great) and list at least three benefits of that idea, and then list at least three practical steps you would have to take to implement the idea. This simple technique often helps you think of ways to make the ideas even better.

Get your ideas into the world

Buy a stack of ten magazines. (Or take some of those old magazines in your dentist's waiting room) Clip out any photos that seem related to your problem, and keep going until you have 50 photos. Use a glue stick and make a collage by sticking them onto a large piece of poster board. Keep the collage near your desk for a couple of weeks, and make sure to look at it each day.

From the Inside Flap:

"No matter what kind of creativity I studied, the process was the same. Creativity did not descend like a bolt of lightning that lit up the world in a single brilliant flash. It came in tiny steps, bits of insight, and incremental changes. Zigs and zags. When people followed those zigs and zags, ideas and revelations started flowing."
—From the Introduction

Can you be more creative? Absolutely, and Zig Zag shows you how. Dr. Keith Sawyer, a psychologist, professor, jazz pianist, and former video game designer, is one of the world's leading experts on creativity. To develop his accessible eight-step creativity program, Sawyer explored the lives of exceptional creators, tapped into the back stories of world-changing innovations, and analyzed laboratory experiments that delved deeply into the everyday creativity that all of us share. He discovered many surprising secrets of highly creative people—how they question assumptions when presented with new problems, how they get beyond creative blocks, and above all, how they negotiate the many twists and turns along the way.

Zig Zag draws on these secrets to provide an eight-step program that will help you achieve greater creativity—whether you're looking for new ways to excel at your job, build a fulfilling career, develop a more deeply satisfying personal life, find fresh, clever, permanent solutions to nagging problems, make better decisions, bring about change in your community, and more.

Zig Zag provides an unprecedented collection of more than one hundred practical, hands-on activities that will keep you moving down the creative path. These research-based techniques help you ask deeper questions, see the world in new ways, and develop novel ideas. Zig Zag is your guidebook to the surprising, unpredictable, and fascinating journey that leads to greater creativity.

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