Assembling Your Dots

Creativity is often described as a process of joining the dots. If this is to be true, what makes one creative act different from another is HOW these dots get joined and WHICH dots get joined. The less obvious the dots, the more surprising the final result.

Which makes it incredibly important to be collecting dots if you want to create change, innovate, grow, learn or create. This is a great example of how being more consciously aware of what goes into being creative can end up making you way more creative than ever before.

Each and every human being is different. We come from different races, religions, backgrounds, education, families and day-to-day experiences. This means that each of us has a unique set of dots that can be used to make connections.

But if you want to be a professional dot-joiner, what you already have is not enough. Well, it might be for today, but pretty soon you will run out of useable connections. It is increasingly important as a working creative person, to keep growing your supply of dots and to do two, contradictory things at once.

  1. Understand your areas of interest and go as deep and as far into it as you can so that you obtain specialist knowledge that very few other people have
  2. Gather together dots that are far outside your interest set and that you wouldn’t perhaps come into contact with every day.

Life-long learning isn’t a choice for Creatives. It’s the condition under which a lifetime of creativity is possible. But where can we go to keep this up?

Luckily, today there are so many choices it might even become overwhelming!

  • Reading books
  • YouTube videos
  • Online tutorials
  • Studying
  • Conversations
  • Social media

I use social media to read the information that I wouldn’t ordinarily have any interest in. This often provides background and perspective that give me new ideas and approaches for both my own creative writing and also for my workshops and talks. It also gives me a broader understanding of the world that I am creating for.

The contradictory dots are important if you want to escape becoming one-dimensional and predictable over time. Remember that, when it was filmed, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was the scariest film ever made. Time shave changed. To make horror now, you need a lot of newer, diverse inputs to be relevant.

Every new fact, impression, idea or fragment of information is a potential new connection. Remember not to spend too much time locked up in your turret creating the next big thing. You risk losing touch with the world and you may well create something that is no longer needed or that no-one else understands.

And remember: on social media, you are mostly talking with people who largely share your world view (your friends and family) and spending a lot of time on social media puts you into a deep echo chamber where newness and originality are in short supply… step away from the screen and back into the outside world every now and then if you want to stay fresh!

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