Friday, January 20, 2012

Creativity and simplicity

As I am currently benched (self-benched) from workouts while I wait for my back to heal, I have some non-training-related thoughts to share today.  One area in my life that I try to nurture is creativity.  Creativity doesn't just mean being artsy or being different from other people.  Creativity is essentially a way of thinking.  It is getting out of a rut, solving problems, trying and making new things.  You can be creative in your work, your hobbies, even your approach to everyday tasks. 

An interesting thing I've discovered is that my creative process works best when I can simplify.  First, I need to simplify my surroundings.  That helps me to simplify my thoughts, often going back a couple of steps to re-think my assumptions.  Sometimes I need to simplify a design (in making something) or a process (writing a paper or building a model for work). 

I came across two examples of this yesterday.  In the first example, I was working on a proposal and just getting stuck.  I don't know much about the topic but they asked me to pitch in so I did.  I decided to focus on a single reference and try to really understand that reference and draw simple diagrams of the process it was describing, then simply write about that process as if I was explaining it to someone.  It got me out of my rut, and I ended up with something where I was afraid I might end up with nothing.

In the second example, I was working on my infinity scarf that I posted the other day, and I was just losing interest.  It was curling, which drives me nuts, and I just didn't like the way it looked and I wasn't enjoying the process anymore either.  I knew I needed to rip it out, even though it was already half finished.  So rip it went, and as I was ripping I thought about what I should try next.  I have accumulated a lot of patterns for loop scarves and cowls because I've wanted one for a while.  They come in all kinds of crazy textures.  But when I stepped back, I realized I just wanted to do a simple seed stitch (1x1 checkerboard knits and purls).  It makes a fabric that lies flat and has plenty of texture.  I started over with seed stitch and I'm much happier with it.  And I'm no longer knitting from someone else's pattern.

In everyday life we have so many opportunities for creativity.  But so often I see people just doing the same thing they've always done.  It's unnecessarily complicated or awkward or just not what they like.  We all get stuck in ruts.  I can see how new moms suffer from this because it's just so tiring taking care of a kiddo, you don't seem to have much left after all that effort. But little things like trying to cook a new dish or or trying a different order for getting ready in the morning can get me unstuck. And using the guideline of "simplify" helps me find that creative solution that's been eluding me.  

No comments: