Throwing Out The First Idea and Two-Minute Dance Parties


This week I’ve had the pleasure of getting a sneak peek of a chapter from Lynda Norris and Rainey Tisdale’s manuscript on Museums & Creative Practice. That thought-provoking reading, coupled with another creativity-focused project I’m preparing for, reminded me of a draft post I started back in March, 2012 but never finished. Since there’s no time like the present for seizing the bull by the horns (and other cliches), without further adieu, here are two of my favorite ways to get the creative process going.

The Pancake Approach

Just like you chuck the first pancake, try discarding your first ideas. When you’re brainstorming, the first things you think of pop into your head because they’re comfortable – you’ve seen and done them before. That doesn’t mean they’re bad ideas, but are they the best you can do? Take them out of consideration and find out.

Moving outside your comfort zone forces you to be creative and start again from another perspective. Once you reject the expected you can begin exploring the unexpected.

That said, sometimes your first ideas are the right ones. But until you consider other approaches, how will you know? And if you do end up going back to those first ideas, chances are very good the final product you create will be influenced and enhanced by the other approaches you explored.

Two Minute Dance Parties

Does this even need an explanation?

The goal here is to get out of your head. If you’re anything like me, brainstorming is a rabbit hole that’s easy to tumble into but can be hard to climb out of. The thinking, analyzing, scrutinizing, debating, and editing can become cyclical until the process isn’t productive. So what do you do when you just can’t think anymore? Dance.

Pick a song, pop on those headphones, and just move. Research shows that changing our physical movements changes how we think, and that we solve problems more quickly while being active than stationary.

There are plenty of ways to get your body moving – go for a walk around the block, have a quick-yoga session, do thirty jumping jacks – but none are as fun as a mini-dance party. Fair warning: the first time you suggest this (or, in my case, get caught doing it), people will think you’re nuts. But encourage others to give it a try and most of them will come around. It ended up becoming standard practice with my staff at a former museum, and led to some fantastic ideas.

In fact, why not bust some moves right now? Here’s a little Gina G.* to get you started.

What about you? What are your tricks for encouraging creativity and/or getting out of a mental rut?

*I know, I know, what can I say? My love for late-90’s pop will never die.

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