How to be Creative
“A Passport to Creativity”
By Peter Harris
Published by Eutopia Press, August 2011, Kindle Edition, 673 pages, with some diagrammatic illustrations.
The author presents his arguments through four main phases/zones of process that are supported by a diagrammatic illustration of the four zones and their four fractal sub zones laid out to simulate the pattern of a tree; “The Idea Tree”. The pattern also has a passing resemblance to a brain scan! The author’s tagging of his ascertained four zones/phases within the process creativity to: Idea, Dreaming, Exposition and Action reads as contrived to give the anagram IDEA. The author also tagged the zones/phases as:
1. Blue zone/phase, Input, outside world.
2. Green zone/phase, Novelty, order from disorder
3. Yellow zone/phase, Truth, Evaluation
4. Red zone/phase, Freedom, response, output, new action.
The author then introduces a fifth Purple zone/phase which sits in the centre of the diagram that represents the status quo.
The author states that this book deals primarily with the Green zone/phase but that all four zones/phases are represented to a greater or lesser degree in each primary zone through fractal repetition.
The fractal zones/phases:Blue: openness, receptive to positive things, appreciation, love.
Green: guessing, creating novelty.
Yellow: logic, planning, reaction, critique, choosing, planning
Red: action, expression, testing, output.
The author’s self-confessed interchangeable use of the terms “Zone and Phase” can confuse the reader and undermine their understanding of the point(s) being made; similarly, his digressions of philosophical excursions into humankind and its neural potential distract the reader from the core thesis. What the core thesis is, is in its self is at times confusing. Is it on creativity, the creative process or is it on developing ideas?
The author’s openness as expressed in his declaration of creativity is disarming and might have been presented in a less emotional manner.
The brief reference of the reader’s assumed prior learning (blue zone/phase) in their area (field of study) in which they aspire to be creative deserved more emphasis and expansion as a prerequisite to enabling the possibility of creativity. Equally the light reference to the motivating prerequisite of “having or identifying a problem to solve” within the readers field of knowledge or overlapping fields of knowledge, deserved more expansion to reflect its importance in the creative process.
The emphasis on the Blue zone/phase of “not knowing but looking” of using contemporary technology in searching for information on and around the problem in hand and mapping relevant patterns for the intuitive mind to assess is well put. As is the use of existing knowledge, “We stand on the shoulders of giants-but we do not need to know everything the giants know. We are trying to see out ahead”.
The author has a tendency to use made up words such as: stuckness, zoners, are but a few examples.
A wider literary research of existing works on creativity by such authors as those listed below would have enhanced the development of authors concepts on the phases in the creative process and may have enabled him to express then in a more coherent and understandable manner.
The publication suffers from the absence of an editor as evidenced at times in the loose use of language, lax grammar and insufficient structure to the presentation of the thesis.
Having said all that, it is a read worth persevering with and should be evaluated in the context of other writings by such authors as:
Boden, Margaret. (1996) The Creative Mind. London: Abacus.
Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. (1997) Creativity. New York: Harper-Collins.
De Bono, Edward. (1970) Lateral Thinking. London: Penguin.
Johnson, Stephen. (2010) Where Good Ideas Come From. London: Penguin Group.
Koestler, Arthur. (1975) The Act of Creation. London Picador.
Robertson, Ian. (1999) Types of Thinking London/New York: Routledge.
Winchester, Simon. (2008) Bomb, Book and Compass, (Joseph Needham and the Great Secrets of China). London: Penguin Group.
Patrick Molloy for www.stagebrace.com