creative thinking

Creative Thinking Tuesday, 2nd December 2014

There are lots of tools and tips and techniques for creativity. There are many helpful things that you can have in your environment and behaviours that could aid you. In these posts so far I’ve shared a few things that I find really helpful, and if you look online there are many posts like these. In today’s post, I want to share four sayings or quotes that have shaped how I think about creative thinking.

Sturgeon’s Law

90% of everything is crud.” First coined by sci-fi author Theodore Sturgeon, this was used in specific response to criticisms of science fiction. You might think that this is a really unhelpful quote to keep in mind, but actually I find that it keeps me motivated: if 90% of everything is rubbish then one has to work hard to find innovative ideas. It sets a personal expectation for creative work. I don’t think it means that one has to reduce the number of ideas one has, and aim just try to have good ideas. Far from it actually…

Have Lots Of Ideas

I have watched some very clever people struggling to come up with a solution to a problem. They think of an idea, then jump to analysing it, investing lots of time on one idea, growing more frustrated while they see it not meeting the needs that they have. If only one in ten ideas is any good, we need a different approach. Linus Pauling is quoted as saying something which I think really helps – and you’ll note from previous posts that many creative thinking processes have this property: “If you want to have good ideas you must have many ideas. Most of them will be wrong, and what you have to learn is which ones to throw away.” I’m not suggesting that either of these steps is easy, but I do think that people can develop their skill in both areas.

Have Absurd Ideas

If an idea is not at first absurd, then there is no hope for it.” A sentiment that is often attributed to Albert Einstein but which might be more recent. I like it all the same. People worry about absurd ideas, forgetting that an idea does not have to be the destination to a solution or an innovation. Absurd ideas can lead to great things: if they’re massive and unwieldy, they can be scaled back to something more manageable; if they are a weird little seed, they can be expanded to a solution that is amazing.


My high school maths teacher, Carl Sanderson, had three laws of maths on the wall. My favourite, and I have no idea if he borrowed it from somewhere else, was “the mind is a muscle and must be exercised.” Like any talent, however naturally brilliant, creative thinking must be practiced in order to develop and maintain it. It is not a resource that can just be drawn on as and when needed: it must be cultivated and cared for. How often do you practice being creative?

Thanks for reading! What are your favourite quotes about creativity? How do they inspire you?

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)

PS – please take a look at my Patreon campaign for the Viva Survivors Podcast!

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