Research before walking into the unknown
– I said I don’t want to hear about it!
– Listen… no one is going to take your creativity from you. They simply will teach you tools and techniques that will enable you to make the most of it. They will show you which problems others found before you – people who, in addition, have devoted a lifetime to that matter – and how to tackle them so, instead of starting from scratch, you can climb the mountain of their experience and create from there to the stars.
– Not in a thousand years! Music comes from my heart and I will not subjugate her to someone’s wishes!
(Based in a real conversation)
It is not easy.
Especially when you want to explain some abstract concept to someone who has no interest at all in abstractions. Nevertheless, I believe that all of us, as humans, could become better professionals if we always tried to take advantage of the experience generated by the ones who came before us, and cut down the time we waste investigating the same things, reinventing the wheel. That is why I thought it could be interesting to transcript this little excerpt from a text I am currently reading.
Some may argue that systematic techniques and tools are contrary to Creativity’s true nature; that it needs to be “free”. This shows a lack of understanding of what a tool is.
Language is a formal tool that enables us to have and to express creative thoughts. A ladder is a tool that allows us to reach places that would be otherwise difficult to reach. A saw might be a tool that lets a carpenter manufacture beautiful pieces of furniture. Math is a compendium of tools that gives us access to complex relationships.
Tools are liberating mechanisms that amplify our abilities and enable us to do things that would be very difficult to achieve in other ways. A key is a formal tool that allows us to escape from a closed room. However, the key does not determine where we go.
In general, a lot of the opinions about creativity are antiquated and very influenced by artistic creativity notions. Too often creativity is seen as simply “being different”. Other times, creativity is perceived as the opposite of formality. In spite of everything, both music and ballet are creative and formal at the same time.
Because of that, from now on, every time I am about to commence something I will stop for a second and ask myself: “Is it possible that some other people have done this before? Is there some part of their work that we could take advantage of?”
In that way, not only we will be able to improve the quality of our work and make a better contribution to the world, but we will make that people’s work worth the effort.