Creative exploration 101
What do we want when we want?
We want new ideas. Better solutions. Different techniques and methods that push our work further. Maybe even turn things up-side-down from a unique perspective. From actors to chefs, lawyers to architects; journalists to entrepreneurs go seeking (even hunting sometimes) for new projects and ideas. This seeking is called 'creative exploration'.
Isn't this exploration specific and unique to the individual or subject? Turns out, its not.
Observe; engage; consume
Albert Einstein would pour over books and theories for hours, asking questions and examining equations. He would sit in the attic of his house working on scientific papers and he was not to be disturbed. This is the first step – gathering data; identifying the problem; looking at as many references and precedents as possible. Chefs read cookbooks, eat new and different foods; some writers travel; designers surf on pinterest, collecting as my visual aids as they can. The objective is to wander aimlessly.
Eureka in the bathtub!
Einstein would go sailing or play the violin which he was very fond of to 'take a break'. He would relax into his hobby, allowing himself to unwind and then the ideas would pour into his mind. There are accounts where he would wander off to nearby town, lost in his thoughts. Reflection in solitude is a powerful thing. A lot of people say that their mind puts together the jig-saw when they are taking a walk or when they are in the shower.
“At that point there came to me the happiest thought of my life. It was a thought that was to revolutionize concepts of gravity, space and time, and lead to the so called “general” theory of relativity.”
~ From the letters written by Albert Einstein.
Find the activity that relaxes you the most – cleaning, cooking, video games and ease into it.
There is one more way. This more popular and much more common. Ever watched the sitcom House M.D? Doctor House debates with his team of doctors who go back and forth on an idea, building it up or breaking it down until they find the right fit. Einstein used to take walks in the park with his colleagues to bounce ideas off of each other.
Grab a buddy, grab a beer and get to work.
I highly recommend the reflection in solitude method because I have seen it, tried it, experienced it and it works. My only advice – keep a pen and paper close by and grab the ideas as quickly as they come.