How to tap into the source of all creation
What does creativity mean to you? To most people, they refer to the arts – writing and music for example. But creativity applies to everything – anything new, anything that has never been created before, stems from the creative faculty.
What are your goals, your work, and your hobbies? Can you see how creation plays a role in that? Scientists, engineers – they create things that have never been seen before. Fighters improvise in battle – they moves in ways that he has never done before.
How do we truly tap into the creative faculty inside us? While this is part 2 of the series on the egoless state, it is a separate article in its own right, and you can read this for how to boost your creativity. Part 1 can be found here.
Tapping the source of all creation
True creation doesn’t come from the conscious mind. The creative faculty lies somewhere from beyond our analytical, logical brain. Various psychological studies have attributed creativity to our awareness, personality traits, chance, and even divine intervention.
I don’t want to get into the debate, so let’s stay focused on the practical aspects. There are two broad types of creativity. Different disciplines call them different names. I’ll go with Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, who calls them Creative Imagination vs. Synthetic Imagination.
Creative imagination, which lies beyond our logical mind and our ego, is where all truly new ideas come from. When a scientist invents something the world has never seen before, he is using creative imagination. Think of it as raw clay.
Hill describes Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Elmer Gates as brilliant inventors who learnt to tap into creative imagination. Mr. Edison, for example, was described as having tried out more than 10,000 ideas for his light bulb using his synthetic imagination alone, and they all failed. It was only when he tapped into his creative imagination that he managed to perfect the light bulb.
What is this Synthetic Imagination? This is the imagination born of education and experience. You use your mind to change things around, look at them from a different angle, or rearrange existing material to form something “fresh”. But nothing truly new ever came from synthetic imagination.
How much of what you do has never been seen before (by you, at least)? When you write a new book, are you re-organising stories or legends you’ve read before, replacing characters, chopping and changing? When you compose a new piece of music, are you really only modifying one of your favourite childhood songs? When you do a new marketing campaign, are you merely putting your own spin on a successful campaign already used by another company?
Most modern creativity books available are actually focusing on your Synthetic Imagination. But there is nothing wrong with this; in fact it is a vital step. An original idea often needs to be shaped by education, logical thinking, and experience in order to form a finished product.
Take the design of the blog you are on, for instance (hopefully you are reading it on Urban Monk). It began as an original idea in my head, as the raw clay of creation. I began to use my synthetic imagination to shape the clay. As I began to transfer the idea out of my head into my computer, I used my design skills to cut it down to what is possible with current technology. I shaped the vague idea by adding colors according to existing color theory. I moved text and pictures into certain locations based on what I know of human computer interaction. It is only then it becomes a finished product.
Let me digress a little bit here. All ideas, all goals, everything we want to achieve begins as an idea in our mental realms, and is shaped by worldly hands. Nothing man ever created did not begin as a thought. Nothing man ever created was not shaped by worldly hands either. This is the true way to use that little secret law everyone’s buzzing about, but I refuse to mention by name because I don’t want to cheapen my blog.
How to tap into creative imagination
So, how do you tap into this creative imagination? Take a page from Elmer Gates. Hill describes how Gates, holder of over 200 patents, used to “sit for ideas”. He sat in his room, sound-proof and with controlled lighting, with pen and paper. Then he contemplated whatever he was working on, as much as he knows of the topic, and waited for ideas in the form of inspiration and hunches to appear, and he began writing them all down.
At first I thought it sounded spooky, like some ouija board, but I realised this was how most people in the creative fields of art, writing, design, and so on works, whether they know it by name or not.
Let me explain further. Inspiration comes from beyond the mind, perhaps from your subconscious. It flashes into the conscious mind when it is ready to receive (i.e. being in an egoless “doing” state as described in the previous post, or on the last page of the Dynamic Goals post).
This works even better when the mind is stimulated. Hill gives a list of ten stimuli, listed in order of descending effectiveness.
1. Desire for sexual expression
3. Burning desire of fame, power, or money
6. A master mind alliance (a group who helps one another achieve goals)
7. Mutual suffering
8. Auto-suggestion (repeated affirmations)
10. Narcotics and Alcohol
Some of these are negative, so it’s common sense to say don’t use them. It’s been included for the sake of completeness. You can probably think of some great ideas you’ve had while drunk, or when you are shaking in your boots.
I also realised this list was how I got my best inspirations in my own design work (I run a little web design company). For example, I work best with slow RB music – it stimulates my mind. Silence or other types of music irritate me and slow down my work. It is outside work that I get my best inspirations, though.
My most successful ideas came when I was in bed, about to drift to sleep, or when I had just woke up. It is well known to hypnotists that your subconscious mind is most accessible when you are sleeping, moving into, or moving out of sleep (Most men also wake up with a strong desire for sexual expression).
This explains why most creative workers have their own little habits, rituals, or superstitions as they work – they need their own form of stimuli.
When you are doing it
When you are sitting from ideas, use a journal or something you can write on. Keyboards don’t work so well, you often think so fast your typing fingers can’t keep up. You also need to draw and scribble sometimes. Write down even the absurd ideas. In the next post we will discuss synthetic imagination which allows you to make these ideas usable.
Try a few of the positive stimulants. This will be easy initially, but your ideas will dry up. The trick is to keep going; most of my best ideas come after a couple of days.
Mind-mapping and associative thinking
Other tools you can try to use are mind mapping or associative thinking. They are pretty similar. They simply refer to expanding ideas.
Let’s say you need ideas for your fiction novel. Write down the name of the main character and draw a circle around it. Then branch off it with as many things that pop into your head as you can. Offshoot circles might include pain, happiness, or even random things like the moon, or a coin.
Expand each of those circles. Pain might link to another characters name, and then you might think of a great storyline involving betrayal by that character. The moon might lead to a werewolf plotline.
During the research for this article, I compiled a large pile of creativity tools and ideas from my own head and books. I’ve split them up – this post covers creative imagination, and the next post will be a quick list of all the ways you can stimulate your synthetic imagination.