Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Good Tangent Can Help Your Creativity

Tapping Creative with Creative TangentsOne of the aims of Tapping Creativity is to not only provide you with ideas to kickstart your own writing, but also help foster habits that keep your creative mind sharp at all times. This is so that when you finally sit down in front of a blank screen, your mind can help put things together with as little pain and agony as possible.

Okay, I might be dramatizing that a little, but when you've got a creative block, not much else seems worse.

In this post, we are going to talk about something I call "Rapid Tangential Thought Process" or RTTP. Like its cousin, the brainstorm, the goal of the RTTP technique is to promotes a stream of ideas mainly related to thought association. The main difference, however, is that a brainstorm follows a flat, horizontal approach that scatters ideas.
brainstorm illustration
In the Rapid Tangential Thought Process, the thought pattern is much more vertical - almost chainlike - so that one thought extends directly from the previous thought, rather than surrounding a common thought with many different thoughts. I try to extend my chain of thought to 10 links. The key in RTTP, however, is not to think too much. Move quickly from one thought to the next, trusting that your mind has a reason for creating the associations it does.

Let's take a look at an example. We'll start with the word "rug."

rug >
Oriental >
Chinese >
laundry >
folding >
cards >
sympathy >
orchestra >
whale >

Okay, in this example, you can spot the obvious connections in terms like Oriental > Chinese. But how about some of the more interesting ones like sympathy > orchestra. Clearly the word "symphony" was a synaptic cross-over somewhere. The same goes for orchestra > whale, with a subliminal "orca" in there along the way.

This chain of thought type of thinking may be new to some of you. Others whom I have shown it to have told me that is more difficult than they thought it would be at first, but got easier the more they did it. I encourage you to try it several times a day. You can do it anywhere, on paper or in your head.

Hopefully, the next time you get stuck in your creative endeavors, Rapid Tangential Thought Process can help you quickly get to the next idea that keeps your creativity flowing.

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