2 Useful Books on Creativity

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by Darcy Pattison

I don’t usually do book reviews of children’s literature because there are so many other blogs who do it much better than I would be able to keep up with. I am, however, interested in new titles that relate to creative thinking, better communication, revision, creative writing, etc. In that vein, here are two new books that I’ve recently read. (In the interest of disclosure, I am an Amazon associate, so links will take you to the Amazon listing; I’m not making anything from the associate program right now, so it’s more of a courtesy to give you a more direct listing with more information.)

Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques by Michael Michalko

Creativity is often a matter of divergent thinking. This book gives both linear and intuitive exercises to approach ideas and how to create something new and different. I’ve used it a bit with Friday Ideas and will probably use it even more because part of the premise of Friday Ideas is that we need unique and different stories. So many of the rejections I’ve received I the last year praise my writing but wind up saying that the story just won’t stand up in the crowded marketplace. In other words, I need to be unique in my ideas.

The linear activities seem easiest to me.  In Group A, you list, divide, combine, or manipulate ideas.

Group B activities are described this way: “These linear techniques precisely choreograph information in such a way that you move in determined steps toward a new idea.”

Group C activities reorganize information that helps you move away from cliches. My brain works this way!

The intuitive activities seem a bit “mystical” to me at times, which probably means I need to try them more. I did like the drawing exercise a la Da Vinci, which lets you think by making doodles on paper; I’m good at doodling!

It’s not a book you have to read straight through; instead, you can pick and choose techniques to jump start your ideas toward something different.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.

If you read Malcom Gladwell’s book,The Tipping Point, you know he says that ideas “tip” or gain momentum and become well-known in three ways: by reaching opinion makers, by having sticky ideas, and by creating the right context. This book takes the middle idea–stickiness of ideas–and expands it into a full book. The Heath brothers postulate that Sticky Ideas are simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional and told as a story.

(BTW, I love the Duct-tape on the cover of the book!) See why I like this book? I’m already preaching Unexpected this year. I already deal with Simple Stories for kids that are Concrete. Some interesting things I’m thinking about:

  • If you looked at the classics of children’s literature, would they rate high on the Sticky Factors?
  • An editor at a conference once said that when they publish a list of books, they know that over half of the books won’t earn out. They just don’t know which half. The Heaths suggest that the Sticky Factors would help make those predictions! T’would be interesting to try.
  • Will the Sticky Factors help me predict which of my mss will sell to a publisher? And which will do well in the marketplace?
  • And backing up from that a step–would the Sticky Factors help me decide which mss are the most profitable to spend time developing?

Well, I have no answers. Just questions.

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