Are you creative? Many people know they are, and many others don’t think they are at all.
If you are the latter, did you know that your story about how you are not creative is not true? You CAN be creative and you actually ARE creative, like it or not. It’s easy to say, “I’m not that creative, I…”.
It’s the same conversation as, “I’m not really funny, I..”. I do get that there are different shades of creative and funny, but everyone possesses some or both of these traits. Name an object in your house, OK, “Scissors”.
Name a verb, OK “skipping”.
You’ve just created skipping scissors. You’ve taken two disperate words and placed them together. You’ve created an unusual and surprising pairing of words. It disrupts order and logic. It is art. It is a different way of thinking about both. Now, if I apply my analytical brain a bit in order to convince you that this is creative, then it might go like this:
When we think of scissors we immediately think of a sharp, useful, and potentially dangerous household object. Very handy for a variety or purposes, but must be handled and even carried in a special way so as not to invite danger. When we think of skipping, we think of moving with abandon, and a childlike innocent and happy ‘not-a-care-in-the-world’ attitude. It invokes a playground or park, like skipping through a meadow. Put the common association of Scissors and Skipping together, and you have the potential danger of carrying this sharp object fused with the carefree and loose abandon of skipping. As a matter of fact, the verb we associate AGAINST scissors is “running”, for we know we should Never Run With Scissors!, since we were a child. So skipping with scissors, with all the freedom and uncaring giddy attitude that skipping brings, is Super-Dangerous…… and interesting. Pairing those two unlikely bedfellows together is creative. It desecrates order. It challenges the normal pretext. It unravels the order that is the thought box that we place what scissors are and what skipping is, in. It is interesting. It sounds like I pre-thought scissors and skipping to associate with running and then gave a lot of thought to it all before-hand! I didn’t! I just fucking thought of it! I’m not boasting, I’m only saying that to demonstrate the ease of creating if you commit!
Now I seriously gave no pre-thinking time to coming up with Scissors or Skipping. It was just two words thrown together in the moment. The analysis was retroactive. I could do it because I was fairly sure the words, whatever they were, would work against each other. If not funny, it’s at least a more interesting approach to the words, because it is a different way of looking at the common construction of the usage and meanings they bring to mind. In a lot of comedy, we label the disperate words in order to provide a safe roadmap, or context, by which the audience can expect to be surprised within. It’s a construction of a disruption of order and then living out the newly declared truth of the pairing and finding twists that adhere to that new truth throughout. Wha?
Bad Teacher, a movie about a teacher that you normally think of as good, but this one is bad. We now explore, and lightly surprise you, with all the ways in which she is bad. Someone is dumb. Got it. So if you have two people and one is Stupid, then you think of the other as typically being smart. Or at least smarter. But not dumb. Not, Dumb and Dumber. Oh, that becomes it’s own new twist on the common pairing of two words themselves. Now let us spend an hour plus and a sequel to demonstrate and surprise from within that given context why this is true.
I am being a bit of a basic A-hole about how accessible creativity is on purpose. Most comedy movies don’t title themselves in this way. I provide these examples, because, in all honesty, creativity itself is often the pairing of two ideas that are not normally paired together. It’s the simplest form of finding interest in two meaning that are not normally thought of together.
This concept is also called Band Names. One of my hobbies is new music, new indie bands, so I’m always coming across new band names. In the above example, it absolutely could be the name of a new band: “Did you go see Skipping Scissors last night?” (Absolutely works, they are obviously a young Indy Vegas boy band with a flippy, flirty, female front singer) And then, “Where were they playing?” “Oh, they were at the Empty Bottle”. Now, the Empty Bottle in Chicago is a real place. (And a great venue on Western Avenue, I might add). We think of bottles being full, or perhaps half-full or half-empty per the old adage, but never honestly declared as Empty. And it’s a bar. So the association is clever. Skipping Scissors, not a real band. Empty Bottle, a real place. Names, opposite for interest. Creative. YOU can names bands today. You can do it, if you choose objects other than Scissors and Skipping. Maybe the “Panting Coffee”. I saw them play the Metro last night.
Below are some real bands I like right now, along with some I’m just going to make up: I listed a couple you might know:
Miniature Tigers Secret Machines Daunting Hat Arcade Fire Black Violins Bookmark Challenge Falling in Reverse Blond Redhead Flaming Lips Hot Young Priest Spindle Catnow Immaculate Machine Modest Mouse New Pornographers Yellow Ostrich Wolf Parade TV On The Radio
The ones I made up were Daunting Hat, Bookmark Challenge, and Spindle Catnow. The rest are real. Television, but broadcast it not on television, but on the radio: TV On The Radio.
Unconventional pairing of ideas or uses.
Sometimes a band will take a regimented idea and name themselves that. The two ideas, like the two disparate words we have been discussing is first the status that the name invokes, pitted against the seemingly care-free unstructured universal opinion of rock bands, themselves. These two ideas, when paired, become interesting: Here are some examples of real ones and lies, as well:
We Are Scientists. So we don’t expect rock musicians to be scientists. It defies status of scientists, a bit, to name them after an indie band.
The Virgins Paul Revere and the Raiders Tall ships Symphony Cafe Subtle Widowspeak The Real Tuesday Weld Charming People Postal Service Parts and Labor The Outline Office The National The Most Serene Republic Ministry Franz Ferdinand Dead Kennedys Tesla Louis XIV Librarians Justice Interpol The Grooms And one of my favorite bands. MGMT, which stands for Management.
None of these are made up. They are all from my playlists. I just found them. They invoke importance and status and are interesting because of our notion of what a band’s rebellious status may be. Not all bands name themselves in this way, of course. Many create a carefree name, Rolling Stones, Lovely Feathers, Lonely London Lad, Muse, OK GO, or common names like Rake or Pavement, but at least, in part, have the same mechanisms in place.
Two words or concepts paired together that we don’t normally think of as being together. The ideas merge to form a new meaning. That, in my opinion, is the simple definition of “Thinking Outside the Box”. The box is our universal preconceptions of what things are, and all of the tidy left-brain packaging that we contain within the box. Thinking outside of the box is either redefining an element that is the box, or bringing two ideas together to break out of that safe construct.
Two ideas. Christianity and Computer Dating: Christian Mingle Telephone and Portable music player: Iphone Rubber and A computer keyboard: Rollup Bluetooth Keyboard Drinking Coffee and Driving a car: Travel Mug. Power tools and Distance: Extension Cord. I know these seem silly, but it is two concepts coming together to form a new meaning which then serves a need. For many, the need is inherent to one of the constructs, such as a need for quicker time or greater weight carrying, etc. For me:
Shuffling Cards and a need for Lack of friction on a hard surface: A card mat. Running and Bad Weather: An Eliptical Machine.
And others I’m just thinking of:
Time and Shaving: Electric Shaver. Time and Harvesting Cotton: Cotton Gin. Time and Distance: Wheel. Time and Distance: Roller Skates Time and Distance: Covered Wagon Time and Distance: Bicycle Time and Distance: Automobile. Time and Distance: Airplane. Distance and Load: Truck. Movement and Turns: Dyson Vacuum Cleaners
And on. and on. and on. Look around you right now. The courage to bring two (or maybe more but often it is just two) ideas together to form a new meaning to fulfill a need. Creativity. Innovation.
Dictionary definition of innovation is: (And I swear to Jesus that I am excited about this in this moment because I swear I haven’t looked it up and so I’m hoping that it will fit this construct and I have faith in Dictionary.com which is where I’m going to look right now for the first time, I swear!)
Dictionary.com definition of Innovation is: To introduce something new, to make changes in anything established. Yeah. Something like that. Oh well. Kind of close. Fuck it.
You are creative, whether you like it or not. It’s easy to be creative if you give yourself permission to be. If you can name rock bands, which obviously you fucking can, then you can think of a new sales strategy or an interesting gift for your daughter or a kind surprise for your significant other or an odd paper clip container from The Container Store, or what about a hardware store, instead? OR what about a pharmacy instead? Paper clips and Pharmacy. Two ideas we don’t often think of as being together. I will store paper clips in a beaker.
Well, that’s creative. Well, you’re creative. You and Your brain: Creative. YOU and CREATIVE. Perhaps those are two ideas that come together to form a new meaning.
Enjoy the Good Life.