Creativity always requires a bit of improvisation, making something fit with something else in order to get some sort of combination of the two. Sometimes its a mental device or an idea, sometimes a physical device or tool, sometimes a combination of both such as using a tool for something other than its intended purpose. When we have a creative process, we always have lots of ideas that we try to insert into our plans. Giving each thought a moment or two to make itself logically useful to us gives us a mental image consisting of many ideas and networks of images which combine to form our projected end result. This is how we generally create anything, either in the head or on paper.
One of our greatest creative minds, Leo Tolstoy, once wrote “There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth”. This is why streamlining our ideas is important if we want them to be truly effective. Finding simplicity among our complicated network of ideas and attachments is as difficult as coming up with the initial plan. Sometimes, it's more difficult than the original creative process. Part of being creative means creating the best way, honing, focusing, bringing everything together. Doing this requires a technique and method which we all have to learn for ourselves.
Just like with music, when we improvise a song with a band, if everyone does exactly what they want to, showing off their best abilities, we end up with a cacophony. True musicians know to keep it simple, allow room for the whole band to do something solid. If there is a true team element to the group then they'll know to make way for each member to shine at the right moment, and only for the right amount of time. No one player steals the show, and although it's being creatively composed on the spot, holding back and keeping things steady is a large part of the experiment.
We can translate this into any kind of creativity, and our minds can contain all the band members. By not allowing the moment to seize you and drag you into creative bedlam, we can stay focussed on delivering the end result people actually want. We know simple doesn't mean great, some simple things are useless. The clever bit really is finding a way to put as much value and purpose as possible into the smallest package doable. Whether its a piece of music which we know becomes boring if its too repetitive, or if the progression is too slow, or if its a comic book that tells a story, we want it to keep moving at a decent pace regardless of the skill in the artist. Balancing effectiveness to purpose with manageable simplicity makes the best possible end result. This is where true creativity lies, in the process of marrying simplicity to value in the best possible way.
The book, The Laws Of Simplicity by John Maeda from 2006 (Amazon) (Amazon UK) goes into great depth as to how creative and inventive thinkers define their products and information by simple and effective rules which ensure the most value in the least possible effort.
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