“Art is the imagination at play in the field of time. Let yourself play.” [1]

Do you ever wonder where your good ideas come from? Have you ever tried tracing them back to their source/s? When you have writer’s block or the equivalent, how do you deal with it? How do you regain your creativity?

Tonight I’m meeting with a group of artists to discuss a book called “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. One of the first things she mentions is that you can’t teach a person to be creative – you can only teach them to let themselves be creative.

How do you “let yourself be creative”? Where does creativity come from? How can you get more good ideas?

This RSA Animate with Steven Johnson suggests that most ideas come from one small hunch colliding with other small hunches:


“The position of the artist is humble. He is essentially a channel.” Piet Mondrian.

Has there ever been a completely “new” idea or invention that wasn’t connected with already existing ideas and inventions? I don’t think so. I think it’s the nature of our being to continually be in a state of evolution – with now more than ever, small changes and small ideas joining together to make bigger ones, which combine in the ongoing creating and changing of our world. Creativity is something that we channel from all the people, experiences and energies that surround and penetrate us.

I can trace most of my “good ideas” (at least the ideas that I consider “good”) back to conversations and experiences that I wouldn’t have had if it weren’t for friends, family and other people I’ve met. Creativity doesn’t come out of no where, it comes from many places. Out of a network of relationships, ideas evolve and emerge to create something “new”.

I think the way to let these ideas come, the way to let the creativity flow, is to (1) be promiscuous, (2) pay attention, and (3) connect the dots.

(1) Be promiscuous. “Intellectual promiscuity” (as a friend back in Sydney calls it) means reading many different books, hanging out with many different types of people, and learning to see the world through many different lenses. Such promiscuity stimulates creativity.

(2) Pay attention. Take note of what you learn from these sources. What concepts intuitively stand out to you.

(3) Connect the dots. Bringing your notes from above together to create something new.

I may have posted this before, but it’s such a good one I’ll post it again. An RSA Animate – Ken Robinson on how School Kills Creativity:


We are all creative beings, we just have to give ourselves the time and space to discover, explore and express it.


[1] Julia Cameron (1992) The Artist’s Way, Putnam: New York. p. 24.