Two Books On Creativity

“Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous mind.” — Samuel Johnson

I’ve just started what appears to be an excellent book about creativity called IdeaSpotting: How To Find Your Next Great Idea, by Sam Harrison.

For some reason, people assign a mystical and mysterious quality to the process of creativity, not recognizing that thinking creatively has very definite steps which can be learned and developed. It is not magic. There is no “muse” whose presence is necessary for us to have an idea.

A second book, which I own and have returned to several times over the years, is A Technique for Producing Ideas, by James Webb Young Young. Young writes that scientific giants agree that “knowledge is basic to good creative thinking,” but that this is not enough. Rather, “knowledge must be digested and eventually emerge in the form of fresh, new combinations and relationships.”

Later in the book he writes, “An idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of old elements.”

If you need help in this area (developing your intuitive faculties and breaking free creatively) I would endorse A Technique most heartily, and from what I have read thus far of IdeaSpotting, it will also be on my list. Here are some comments from the intro:

“Trainspotter” is British slang for a dull, obsessive guy whose hobby is standing for hours on station platforms, meticulously recording the serial numbers of train cars passing by. If the British call you a trainspotter, they’re likely calling you a loser.

IdeaSpotters, on the other hand, are surefire winners. The only thing they have in common with trainspotters is a predilection for notebooks. Rather than record engine numbers, IdeaSpotters capture ideas.

If we want to learn new things, we need to explore the world around us, and inside others… to listen and hear and see in new ways. Ask questions. Pay attention. And “maybe even eavesdrop.” There are new things to discover all around you. This is the fodder for new ideas. And underneath it all you may even hear gentle rumbles of the voice of God.

Originally published at

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon

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