When Your Muse is Missing

doubleyolkThis morning I cracked open a couple of eggs for an omelet and was delighted to find that one of my eggs had a double yolk. I quickly looked up the odds, which I thought would’ve been one in a million, to see why the old tales of good fortune turned the event into a sign of good luck. I was shocked to learn the odds were only 1:1,000. I even saw a man’s picture of 11 double yolk eggs in a frying pan—almost a perfect dozen.

The moment inspired me to write a blog entry referencing this new muse of mine. Oh, it wasn’t stirring enough to write a passionate post, but it was enough to get my gears moving. I decided that if I was able to turn a silly little event into the spark of creative thought, there must be a simple trick to help creatives develop something when his or her muse is missing.

Use A System

“When the creative muse isn’t around, look for systems and strategies to generate good ideas.”
—Jim Jaskol, Ride Control Engineer

I’ll never forget the system I was taught in the Bell Labs Think Tank. The instructor had us look over a new product that was ready for release. He wanted us to brainstorm 100 ways the device could be used. “Once you run out of ideas,” he said. “Think about its use from the perspective of your grandmother. And then from the viewpoint of a child, and so on.” The product released six months later promoted from two perspectives, one of which I had brainstormed. It was a thrilling experience, thanks to the instructor’s system.

Engage In Educational Play

“Understand the problem, do the research, play hard looking for the potential options, sleep on it, and let your subconscious do the rest. Great solutions make a wonderful breakfast.”
—Bobby Brooks, Concept Architect

The number of times I have a great idea pop into my brain during my morning shower is too numerous to count. There is something about playful exploration that continues to reside in your brain well into your slumber that activates the right side of the brain. I can attest to how the brain works while you’re asleep to solve the problem playfully pondered that day. But for it to work, the left side of the brain must first understand the problem and what a solution might look like. Then sleeptime gives rise to the right side of the brain with no limitations.

Create An Environment

“You can’t flip a switch and make someone else creative, but you can set up an environment in which the switch is more often on.”
—Alex Wright, Show Designer

The first time I wandered through an animation studio I couldn’t help but notice all the toys and gadgets cluttering the creative’s work space. There was enough unique stimulus to power multiple feature length films. Several years later I was working as a consultant at Kraft Global Foods and found their new office space designed for creatives to be off the charts. The entire environment didn’t have any hint of “office” in it. The space was designed to feel vacation-like, while being broken up by inspirational and motivational designs to stimulate the workforce. Within minutes of being in that space the Vice President and I solved the five-year-old problem.

Originality comes from the juxtaposition of systems, educational play, and environment. While having a muse simplifies the development of an idea, how we address creativity when the muse is missing determines how consistent we are and how professionally we can create on demand.

Can you imagine how this post was inspired by double egg yolks showing up in my omelet this morning? For my logical friends, I’m sorry that you can’t see the connection, or how one led to the other. But you can rest assured that my omelet was very tasty.

© 2018 by CJ Powers

 

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