The Association for Qualitative Research
The Hub of Qualitative Thinking

Creativity goes with the flow

To write some words about an 'Enhancing creativity workshop' is quite a challenge. You have to be creative! You can feel the pressure. You imagine everyone sitting in the office reading this article and thinking: "Well, this isn't very creative, is it? The workshop was probably just an excuse for a day out of the office which I missed."

And then you realise that you are in danger of being caught up in the same trap again. Your brain has gone blank and you are trying to make a big effort to invent something smart. First mistake and first lesson from the workshop. As we were told repeatedly, you are not letting go, you are not trusting your own capacity to be creative. You are thinking too much! You are in the process of using only one side of your brain. That is invention, not creativity!

Then you can hear the reader's thoughts again: "Well, it's the same old story". You, reader, have probably always known this but have you ever felt it? Why is it, for instance, that you found yourself able to produce a stream of ideas one minute, then the next your mind goes blank, all because a minor difference was introduced to the exercise you were doing? Have you felt that a boring statement, such as "the sky is blue", is a much more powerful stimulus than a clever sentence?

That is what this workshop was about: Looking into yourself and paying attention to your creative mood. We complicate matters with our tendency to erect obstacles to free movement.

We were urged to be aware of the filters we all put to every word that is issued by our mouths. We should realise how concerned we are about our 'social image' and other people's expectations of us, and how limiting this is for our creativity. In essence, it's a matter of learning that good interaction with other people has the ability to enhance our creativity. The key to creativity is not to turn your brain off but to awake the 'right' side of it and to let the rational part rest a short while ­ or maybe longer.

The workshop produced no magic recipes. There were no major changes of personality ­ in fact, we are still the same. What we experienced were just feelings and sensations as raw material to reflect on.

Is this a creative 'article'? We don't know. We just let ourselves go. And it was good fun.

 

Alberto Sidrach
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 1999