Sunday, September 27, 2009

Thinking Like Einstein

In my ongoing effort to keep the creative fire burning, I’m listening to a book called “How to Think Like Einstein” by Scott Thorpe. While I don’t ever expect to attain genius status, I’ve picked up some helpful hints for jumpstarting my creativity.

According to Thorpe, our main problem is that we get stuck in thinking ruts. When we’re trying to solve a problem, we tend to come up with the same five answers because we’re stuck in those ruts.

The author’s suggestion? Pick an option that seems completely unrelated and start brainstorming. If I’m trying to figure out how my hero and heroine should meet, I would choose something off the wall and think of ways it could solve my problem. The more outrageous, the better!

If I chose a grapefruit, I would then brainstorm all the ways a grapefruit could bring the couple together. Feel free to laugh at my ideas and your own. If the process is fun, you'll come up with even better ideas. Let’s see…

· She could have an allergic reaction to the fruit and end up under his care in the ER

· She could throw it at his head

· He could compare her breasts to grapefruits and get slapped for his efforts

· He could be an expert in grapefruit diseases coming to help her orchard with its dying trees

· She could have a bicycle accident when his grapefruit rolls away and strikes her wheel

The point is to come up with as many ideas as you can, and let yourself go off on tangents. Don’t throw out anything, because the most implausible idea may lead you to something else that’s perfect.

I’m still learning how to get out of my ruts, and keep my stories fresh. How do you stoke your creative fire?

7 comments:

Callie James said...

Fun post, Gwen. It's a different approach. I'll have to try it.

If I get into a rut, I watch a few reruns of Seinfeld. Those whacky characters always get me thinking outside of the box.

Christine said...

This is perfect timing for me, Gwen. I was in a "learning rut." Trying to solve big stuff so I got brain paralyzed. What's helping? Shutting of that pesky inner critic with routine, mundane writing tasks like making out scene cards, clarifying names and characters, and dusting off the top. WIP housecleaning is what I call it...

Love the grapefruit idea-- hmmmmm

*she could accidentally knock over a beautiful grapefruit display at the grocery store and the hero could trip on the resulting mess, or help her clean up the mess, or he could be the guy who made the display and be quite displeased.

*grapefruit sized tumor is found in his abdomen and she's the doctor in charge of operating

*grapefruit crops are destroyed by a strange new insect and she's the expert who has to help the citrus farmer find a solution before he's wiped out financially

*she has one seabreeze too many (a grapefruit cocktail) and he's got to prevent her from making another rising starlet mistake--trouble is, he's the mistake she wants to make.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Callie- I think Seinfeld would be great for nonlinear thinking!

Christine- I love your grapefruit ideas. Thanks for getting in the spirit!

Christine said...

I think the fourth one might be a tag line, what do you think?

Misty Wright said...

I love this idea and I was laughing at some of yours, Gwen. Love the throwing it at his head and the breast one. Too funny and just think at the laughs that opening would get. :) I'm going to have to try this one.

Carla Swafford said...

This is awesome! I may have to check out that book.

Gwen Hernandez said...

I love #4, Christine! "he's the mistake she wants to make" sounds like fun.

In the book, the specific example the author used was solving world hunger with a nail. It'll definitely get you thinking creatively.