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October 16, 2009

What is it that sparks "creative thinking"?

Over the past year I've come up with a number of non-traditional creative solutions to certain technical issues that have impressed my business partners to the point that they'd like me to try and figure out what the heck it is that puts me into the frame of mind for these quantum leap type thoughts to emerge.

Up front I'll state that I'm extremely left handed, and an INTJ personality type. INTJ's are natural engineers, and the leftiness makes me a visual image thinker like most artists are. IOW - I'm not a linear incrementalist who plods their way to an answer. I don't normally "work towards" solutions, they somehow spring forth fully formed in a physically implementable form. I also keep Vampire hours. I've never done my best work when forced into a 9-5 format. For me, prime time has always been midnight to 4am. When I was with IBM I could whap out as much code in a single day, when I was "in the zone" in those 4 hours as most programmers would take two months to crank out.

For me, the creativity zone seems to depend on several planets aligning.

1) No interruptions. It seems to take me around a half hour to get into whatever this frame of mind is if its going to make an appearance that day. Ringing phones, people banging on the door, etc are a total buzz kill. Each one of those resets the 30 minute clock to zero again. In an office environment, this basically means you'll never get there during "normal" work hours.

2) Endorphines. No shit - the zone seems more likely to appear if I did a bunch of totally unrelated hard physical labor earlier that day. I suspect this is slipping my conscious mind into neutral allowing the subconscious to run unimpeded in high gear.

3) Totally wired on caffeine.

4) The problem to be solved was presented to me 2-3 days prior.

When all of these conditions are present, there's a fair to middling chance Mr. Creativity shows up and a viable (although probably not yet optimal) solution springs to mind fully formed.

Comments? What works and doesn't work for you?

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posted by Purp at 11:36 PM

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