To Be Creative, Read a Lot

You’ll be more creative if you fill your mind with a variety of information. It helps you make those distant combinations that lead to bigger and more surprising creative ideas.

So I loved reading this new article in Science Magazine, by Julian West, a doctoral student in organic chemistry at Princeton. I’ve excerpted the passages that resonated with me.

I aggressively curate and monitor the notifications I receive about newly published papers, and I read those that strike my interest, even if they’re not directly related to my research. Perhaps the biggest question is why I make the effort. The short answer is that I read widely to prepare myself for whatever might come along in the lab. My biggest fear is the one that got away, the important discovery that I missed because I couldn’t see it for what it was.

Reading only in my subdiscipline would limit the kinds of connections I can draw.

Time and again, strange observations in the lab reminded me of a paper I had read in some far-out journal, or a seemingly irrelevant visiting speaker’s talk suddenly led me to understand a result that had been bugging me for weeks.

My advice: Read widely and voraciously.

One of the key lessons is that it’s not easy. It takes time and effort. It’s easier to stay focused on one thing, to work on what everyone else is working on, to read all of the same articles that your colleagues are reading. But creativity? You’ve got to work at that, to do things your colleagues aren’t.

One thought on “To Be Creative, Read a Lot

  1. Interesting article of FILLING YOUR MIND WITH INFO.

    Many highly creative people I have known personally, professionally or have met in person or through publications chose and still choose

    NOT TO FILL THEIR MINDS with information

    Einstein, Edison, Disney, Jobs and numerous others are samples.

    It is a style issue.

    Others among my heroes in the 9 different fields I have worked in and studied the past 57 years agreed with the premise of your article

    FILL YOUR MIND WITH INFORMATION

    yet in varied ways.

    George Lois one of the most highly famous creative advertising men totally disagreed with FILLING HIS MIND with other people’s information.

    Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Lieber Meister, believed in FIRST-HAND INFORMATION over 100 years ago.

    Leo Burnet’s ad agency was and still is famous for believing in the FILL YOUR MIND WITH INFORMATION & RESEARCH.

    Remember I am the contrarian you met during the last Alden B. Dow Creativity Conference outside of Midland, Michigan.

    I seldom have seen things as black or white, either or, or limited in possibilities. My 41 year commitment to studying creativity and creative thinking both the printed or recorded and my on-going living experiences have taught me to be OPEN TO MULTIPLE or POLY-POSSIBILITIES for ALL aspects of human beings.

    Best wishes in all that you choose do to Keith.

    Alan Robert *Alan* Black, Ph.D., CSP, DLA,TM-Gold

    *Create **Your Life, Do not live one Created for You* *706 353 3387 alan@cre8ng.com http://www.cre8ng.com *

    https://www.facebook.com/alanofathens/

    https://www.facebook.com/WanderingAlan

    On Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 5:24 PM, The Creativity Guru wrote:

    > keithsawyer posted: “You’ll be more creative if you fill your mind with a > variety of information. It helps you make those distant combinations that > lead to bigger and more surprising creative ideas. So I loved reading this > new article in Science Magazine, by Julian West, a d” >

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