Creative thinking has always been a mystery. Where do ideas come from? Is one person really more creative than another?
Everyone has a certain image of a creative person – a little different, offbeat, long hair, non-conformist and a little nutty. Creative people can draw and paint, sculpt and write – but can they balance a checkbook? Conversely, can an accountant be a great sculptor or musician too?
And a question I’ve always asked myself – if I was completely organized, could I still be creative?
The answer lies in the 2 sides of the brain.
If you tend to have a more conceptual mind – making connections, understanding shapes and randomness – you are right brain dominant. You are more able to have leaps of insight when thinking in right brain mode because you are synthesizing information together and you’re not thinking in any particular order. The only challenge is the right brain is non-verbal, not time-oriented and not analytical, making it hard to be organized.
My brother Mitch is a rocket scientist – he got the brains in the family. He works on analyzing engine vibration, friction, and rotor dynamics. Most of what he does is scientific and relates to math. His job requires that he is logical, sequential, objective, and that he can analyze each and every part of an engine. But there’s something else too – Mitch also has a good imagination, is good at conceptualizing ideas, is a pretty good musician and he’s organized. So it seems he has a good brain engine on both sides. He has the ability to access different modes of his mind at different times.
The answer may be in our ability to switch up and back between brain modes. If you’re trying to be creative while you are in left brain mode, you won’t be synthesizing information and thinking holistically, which is critical for coming up with new ideas. You’ll feel frustrated until your mind makes the switch.
If you’re trying to be organized in the right brain mode, it won’t be easy because you won’t be sequential and logical – you’ll be scattered.
The trick is to find what different times of the day you are likely to be in either mode.
My most creative time tends to be first thing in the morning when my mind is quiet – that’s when I usually have the best ideas. All of the distractions and chatter during the middle of the day coaxes my mind into more of the left brain mode – unless I lock myself away somewhere. When evening rolls around at like 9pm, I begin feeling the ideas start popping into my head again.
So if in the middle of the afternoon or first thing in the morning, your creative energy runs low, focus on planning, organizing and preparing what you are going to do for the day.
If you are on a deadline and need to get into creative mode, I suggest you look at images and don’t read. Try to be silent and don’t speak. I especially recommend listening to music that does not have any words. This way the right side of your brain will get stimulated and you’ll have an easier time accessing and crafting ideas in a free-form manner.
I believe we all can find ways of thinking with either mode that suits what we are doing – whether you consider yourself creative or not. With a few tools and techniques, anyone should be able access either side of their brain. In the end, we all seem to have a default way of thinking and a comfort zone or a strength that we start to nurture at an early age. I don’t think I would have ever done too well at rocket science, but I don’t think my brother Mitch would enjoy being a creative director either.