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I drew  this chart Friday night to attempt to figure out how to beat my creative doldrums. As depicted in the chart, I was definitely suffering “creative apathy” vs. creative block. I had plenty of creative ideas, but was struggling with generating sufficient interest in any of the ideas to do something about the ideas I had.

One thing I did in trying to get something going creatively was to share an early version of the chart on Google+ to see what reactions others had to it. Amy (Dixon) Drouin asked about an “implementation block” option.

My response was that when drawing the chart initially, the “Creative Apathy” quadrant represented where implementation blocks would fit. Using the word “apathy” may suggest “interest level” too strongly,  but the upper left basically represents having ideas, yet being frustrated by the inability to turn them into productive output.

Another motivation for creating this chart is being in the midst of putting together a compilation book on dealing with creative blocks. As I’ve been wading through the material and various recommendations to beat creative blocks, it seems there are other types of blocks at work as well. While creative thinking exercises can help you move out of the lower left “creative block” quadrant, they aren’t necessarily the answer when it’s “creative apathy” or an “implementation block.” In these cases, it’s more about effective use of convergent thinking, project management, or shoring up implementation capabilities.

What do you think?

I’m always curious about your reaction to these quickly drawn charts. Does this one fit with your experiences? Do you have specific approaches you take to move yourself toward “creative nirvana”? If this chart doesn’t correspond with your experience, how would you recommending changing it? Mike Brown

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” for help on how to be more creative! For an organizational creativity boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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  • Robert Alan Black

    Mike

    Since I first read Roger von Oech’s first edition of WHACK and James Adams’ CONCEPTUAL BLOCK BUSTING I have read many others’ books plus written a mix of articles myself and given many workshops about DEALING WITH CREATIVE BLOCK.

    This weekend I am scheduled to do a concurrent session on NO MORE CREATIVE BLOCKS at the 17th Harriette Austin Writers Conference being held here in Athens, Georgia at the UGA Continuing Education Center on Saturday.

    Reading your message this morning has me thinking about other BLOCKS.

    I AM NOT CREATIVE BLOCK
    I AM NOT AS CREATIVE AS _____
    I DON’T FEEL CREATIVE
    NO IDEAS ARE COMING
    I DON’T LIKE WHAT I AM WRITING
    I DON’T FEEL LIKE WRITING TODAY

    You comment about APATHY has struck a chord.

    I find that people tend to fall for the BREAKTHRU, AHA, INSPIRATION, OUT OF THE BLUE myth of creativity.

    I just read both Steven Johnson’s WHERE DO IDEAS COME FROM and Scott Berkun’s THE MYTHS OF INNOVATION and both of them spend a lot of time on the problems with the INSTANT IDEA MYTH.

    During my own working life as a designer, architect, cartoonist, writer, professor, creative thinking consultant/speaker I have learned on my own and from reading or interviewing many writers, painters, sculptors, inventors, engineers, architects….that yes AHAs happen and sometimes they appear to be the missing piece.

    But most of the time true creative results come from work, work, work, rework.

    Some days simply are not productive….you have the choices of

    1. stop and walk away and come back another day when the MUSE is with you
    2. stop and go work on something else until a new wave of creativeness happens
    3. keep working, keep working

    Yes some days it seems like ideas simply are flowing out your finger tips or the points of your brushes, pens, pencils.  Most of the time….we need to work, work, work, rework.

    ALAN

  • Robert Alan Black

    Mike

    Since I first read Roger von Oech’s first edition of WHACK and James Adams’ CONCEPTUAL BLOCK BUSTING I have read many others’ books plus written a mix of articles myself and given many workshops about DEALING WITH CREATIVE BLOCK.

    This weekend I am scheduled to do a concurrent session on NO MORE CREATIVE BLOCKS at the 17th Harriette Austin Writers Conference being held here in Athens, Georgia at the UGA Continuing Education Center on Saturday.

    Reading your message this morning has me thinking about other BLOCKS.

    I AM NOT CREATIVE BLOCK
    I AM NOT AS CREATIVE AS _____
    I DON’T FEEL CREATIVE
    NO IDEAS ARE COMING
    I DON’T LIKE WHAT I AM WRITING
    I DON’T FEEL LIKE WRITING TODAY

    You comment about APATHY has struck a chord.

    I find that people tend to fall for the BREAKTHRU, AHA, INSPIRATION, OUT OF THE BLUE myth of creativity.

    I just read both Steven Johnson’s WHERE DO IDEAS COME FROM and Scott Berkun’s THE MYTHS OF INNOVATION and both of them spend a lot of time on the problems with the INSTANT IDEA MYTH.

    During my own working life as a designer, architect, cartoonist, writer, professor, creative thinking consultant/speaker I have learned on my own and from reading or interviewing many writers, painters, sculptors, inventors, engineers, architects….that yes AHAs happen and sometimes they appear to be the missing piece.

    But most of the time true creative results come from work, work, work, rework.

    Some days simply are not productive….you have the choices of

    1. stop and walk away and come back another day when the MUSE is with you
    2. stop and go work on something else until a new wave of creativeness happens
    3. keep working, keep working

    Yes some days it seems like ideas simply are flowing out your finger tips or the points of your brushes, pens, pencils.  Most of the time….we need to work, work, work, rework.

    ALAN

    • Anonymous

      Appreciate your insights, Alan. I’ve been doing some thinking/writing about the idea of not “feeling” creative. In an organizational setting, you may need to be creative even when you don’t feel like it. That’s when tools, exercises, and persistence all have to kick in to “manufacture” what substitutes for pure creative energy.

  • Robert Alan Black

    Mike

    Since I first read Roger von Oech’s first edition of WHACK and James Adams’ CONCEPTUAL BLOCK BUSTING I have read many others’ books plus written a mix of articles myself and given many workshops about DEALING WITH CREATIVE BLOCK.

    This weekend I am scheduled to do a concurrent session on NO MORE CREATIVE BLOCKS at the 17th Harriette Austin Writers Conference being held here in Athens, Georgia at the UGA Continuing Education Center on Saturday.

    Reading your message this morning has me thinking about other BLOCKS.

    I AM NOT CREATIVE BLOCK
    I AM NOT AS CREATIVE AS _____
    I DON’T FEEL CREATIVE
    NO IDEAS ARE COMING
    I DON’T LIKE WHAT I AM WRITING
    I DON’T FEEL LIKE WRITING TODAY

    You comment about APATHY has struck a chord.

    I find that people tend to fall for the BREAKTHRU, AHA, INSPIRATION, OUT OF THE BLUE myth of creativity.

    I just read both Steven Johnson’s WHERE DO IDEAS COME FROM and Scott Berkun’s THE MYTHS OF INNOVATION and both of them spend a lot of time on the problems with the INSTANT IDEA MYTH.

    During my own working life as a designer, architect, cartoonist, writer, professor, creative thinking consultant/speaker I have learned on my own and from reading or interviewing many writers, painters, sculptors, inventors, engineers, architects….that yes AHAs happen and sometimes they appear to be the missing piece.

    But most of the time true creative results come from work, work, work, rework.

    Some days simply are not productive….you have the choices of

    1. stop and walk away and come back another day when the MUSE is with you
    2. stop and go work on something else until a new wave of creativeness happens
    3. keep working, keep working

    Yes some days it seems like ideas simply are flowing out your finger tips or the points of your brushes, pens, pencils.  Most of the time….we need to work, work, work, rework.

    ALAN

  • Robert Alan Black

    Mike

    Since I first read Roger von Oech’s first edition of WHACK and James Adams’ CONCEPTUAL BLOCK BUSTING I have read many others’ books plus written a mix of articles myself and given many workshops about DEALING WITH CREATIVE BLOCK.

    This weekend I am scheduled to do a concurrent session on NO MORE CREATIVE BLOCKS at the 17th Harriette Austin Writers Conference being held here in Athens, Georgia at the UGA Continuing Education Center on Saturday.

    Reading your message this morning has me thinking about other BLOCKS.

    I AM NOT CREATIVE BLOCK
    I AM NOT AS CREATIVE AS _____
    I DON’T FEEL CREATIVE
    NO IDEAS ARE COMING
    I DON’T LIKE WHAT I AM WRITING
    I DON’T FEEL LIKE WRITING TODAY

    You comment about APATHY has struck a chord.

    I find that people tend to fall for the BREAKTHRU, AHA, INSPIRATION, OUT OF THE BLUE myth of creativity.

    I just read both Steven Johnson’s WHERE DO IDEAS COME FROM and Scott Berkun’s THE MYTHS OF INNOVATION and both of them spend a lot of time on the problems with the INSTANT IDEA MYTH.

    During my own working life as a designer, architect, cartoonist, writer, professor, creative thinking consultant/speaker I have learned on my own and from reading or interviewing many writers, painters, sculptors, inventors, engineers, architects….that yes AHAs happen and sometimes they appear to be the missing piece.

    But most of the time true creative results come from work, work, work, rework.

    Some days simply are not productive….you have the choices of

    1. stop and walk away and come back another day when the MUSE is with you
    2. stop and go work on something else until a new wave of creativeness happens
    3. keep working, keep working

    Yes some days it seems like ideas simply are flowing out your finger tips or the points of your brushes, pens, pencils.  Most of the time….we need to work, work, work, rework.

    ALAN

  • Barbara Martin

    Looking at the graphic, I am wondering what apathy means for you? Is your apathy (many ideas, little fulfillment) rooted in overwhelm/confusion? Or is it low energy/inertia?

    • Anonymous

      When I drew out the chart on Friday night, Barbara, it was a lot of ideas, but not enough interest/energy behind any of them to get writing. Since that quadrant could represent multiple situations, I’m thinking about a different label or maybe a different scale for the x-axis. Maybe the x-axis is more about creative energy. 

  • Barbara Martin @Reptitude

    The more I think about it… energy seems appropriate. And yet, would it then be quantity of ideas or quality of ideas? as in, Nirvana would be THE BEST IDEA or MULTITUDE OF POSSIBILITIES?

    Now my brain hurts a little. :)

    • Anonymous

      I figure if you have enough possibilities, you’ll wind up with a decent number of creative ideas!

      • Barbara Martin @Reptitude

        Nirvana = Multitude of (possibly) great ideas, or The ONE Perfect Solution? Often tehre are many possible “right” answers but is there a lone brilliant one that is inevitably the best…. as in Eureka! ? That’s where I am wondering, what is Nirvana? I personally like lots of ideas fast and furious, of course but I really appreciate the classic brilliance and elegance of the ingenious solution.

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