Mind Sets

One of the main difficulties for creative people is that the different phases require radically different, even opposite ‘mind-sets’, each of which is difficult to sustain without deliberate effort. These are outlined below:

Inspiration: In order to generate a large number of different ideas you need to be deeply engrossed, fearless and free: Spontaneous, risk-taking, joyful, ‘slap-happy’, intuitive, exploratory and improvisational. It is very common instead to be self-conscious and fearful, and to try to use inappropriate logical thinking. There is also a common tendency to accept your first decent idea, instead of exploring more fully.

Clarification: In order to clarify what you are trying to achieve you need to be: strategic, unhurried and impertinent: analytic, logical, and clear minded, and not afraid to ask difficult questions. Many people fail to clarify, they fail to achieve their goals because they don’t know what they are.

Evaluation: In order to improve earlier work you need to be critical positive and willing to learn. Self-critical (ruthlessly so sometimes), but positive about your vision of how the work could be, and your ability to do this. You must see weaknesses as opportunities to improve, and to learn. Instead creative people often see criticism as a threat, and so fail to improve their work, and to learn.

Distillation: In order to choose your best ideas from the inspiration phase you need to be positive, strategic, and intrepid. That is Judgmental, but optimistic about where each idea might take you. Clear about where you want the ideas to take you, and daring enough to take on original ideas. You need to be realistic but ready to take on challenges. Common mistakes are to choose ideas which are familiar and well worked out instead of those that will best achieve your intentions.

Incubation: In order to leave work for your sub-conscious to work on you need to be unhurried, trusting, and forgetful. That is you must expect difficulties, trust yourself to find a way round them, and not be panicked into adopting a weak solution. Few people realise that some ideas take time to hatch, and see difficulties and indecision as a sign of failure.

Perspiration: In order to bring your ideas to fruition you need to be: uncritical, enthusiastic and responsive. You need to be positive and persistent, deeply committed and engaged, and ready to respond positively to any shortcomings. It is common for even very creative people not to make the best of this phase. They are often uncertain and self-critical, and see weaknesses as lack of talent, instead of as a need for more work or a different approach.

How to make use of mindsets

The creative person needs to switch continually between these radically different, and difficult mind-sets. This requires enormous flexibility as some mind-sets are almost the exact opposite of each other. In the inspiration phase you need to be uncritical, risk taking, and subjective, but in the clarification phase you need to be critical, careful, and objective. If you use an inappropriate mind set you are in deep trouble: you will not get many original ideas if you are critical, careful and strategic, and you will not clarify your purpose effectively if you are slap happy and uncritical.

Most people find they are stronger in some phases than in others, perhaps because our personality often gives us a predominant mind-set. Some people have masses of ideas, but little idea how to work them to a successful conclusion. Others have difficulty getting the ideas on which to exercise their persistence, skills, and good judgment.

A given piece of creative work involves a long chain of the ‘icedip’ phases, each phase being revisited many times. But a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. You need to know your weakest phases, and the techniques and mind-sets which will help you make them stronger. There are some simple strategies which can hugely improve your performance, even in your strongest phases. Though these will take practice if you want to make the best of them. A better understanding of each phase along with its tools and mind-set will help avoid those blocks and frustrations which prevent you performing to the best of your ability. see Blocks