“It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom. Without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail.”
– Albert Einstein
Jotting down information, thoughts and ideas that come my way throughout the day is a habit I’ve adopted. My problem is that I tend not to have these notes assembled together in a totally organized manner.
My thoughts went to my disorganized collection of notes as I read a post on LinkedIn by Tim Brown last week (click here for the full post). Brown is CEO at IDEO, a creative design firm with the emphasis on “Creative.” He expresses the need for kids to experience times of “relaxed attention” which often lead to creative thinking and good ideas. Schools need to find a balance between structured instruction and innovative learning and creativity. I know I do better as I strive to find that balance in my work and life.
Brown mentioned good ideas coming in the shower. I can relate. And it reminded me how ideas so often come at the most unexpected times. I used to keep a notebook by the side of my bed to jot down thoughts in the middle of the night. I think I’ll get back to that again as lately I’ve laid awake for hours with thoughts going through my brain that my mind just won’t let go.
A story comes to mind about Thomas Edison and how he got some of his ideas. – He would sit in a comfortable chair to relax and take a nap. But he would hold ball bearings in his hands and drape his arms over the sides of the chair. Below his hands would be metal pie plates. As he began to doze off his hands would relax, drop the ball bearings and wake him up. He would then jot down any thoughts that had come to him in that relaxed state of mind.
Author, Neil Gaiman said, “Write. Finish things. Go for walks. Read a lot and outside your comfort zone. Stay interested. Daydream. Write.”
One advantage to all my disorganized notes; I revisit thoughts I’ve written down from a different perspective as I go back and arrange them in some orderly fashion. Sometimes contrary ideas seem to bump into each other and get me to look at a scheme from a fresh point of view. It can lead me down a whole new rabbit hole.
Something else Neil Gaiman said – “You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time.”
I think I’ll go and take a nap. But first I’ll look around to find some pie tins and ball bearings.
“Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom. I am not, as will be seen, in any sense attacking logic: I only say that this danger does lie in logic, not in imagination.”
– G.K. Chesterton