Chapter 3. Creativity

Every human achievement is the result of an initial act of creativity. Stonehenge could not have been created without it, nor could the book you are holding. Even some kinds of logic, such as inductive reasoning, require leaps of creativity.

Creativity might appear to be a mystical force, but in fact, it’s available to everyone, even people who claim they’re not creative. As counterintuitive as it might seem, creativity can be hacked. Some of the hacks in this chapter go so far as to try to mechanize creativity. Whether they all succeed is something you’ll have to judge yourself, but I hope you’ll learn to boost your creativity regardless.

Seed Your Mental Random-Number Generator

Your mind is like your computer’s random-number generator: it needs a “seed” from the environment to break out of its routines. You have to put something into it to get something out!

Too often, brainstorming meetings take place in sterile, empty conference rooms with bare walls and nothing to look at anywhere else. They are almost like the industrial clean rooms where microchips are manufactured and not a speck of dust is allowed to gather. Is it any wonder that so many bad ideas come out of these rooms? The truth is that brains need “dust.” Brainstorms, like rainstorms, need nuclei around which (b)raindrops can form. If you start with no ideas, you will end with no ideas.1

Think of your mind as a desktop computer faced with the problem of generating a random number out of thin air. Such ...

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