By Leslie Lindsay (image retrieved from Amazon.com on 7.17.12)
I have this new book and I am pretty much loving every minute I am reading. At first glance, though I will admit that I wasn’t too keen on it.* I know, cringe. Who can’t love a book about creativity? I am shaking my head right now. Ooops, that may be a little piece of my creativity falling out…
Here’s the thing: Jonah Lehrer does a fantastic job of taking all of this brain hullabaloo and making it readable. Okay, sure there are some big words in there like dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and anterior superior temporal gyrus. But he breaks it all down into terms we can all understand (jeez, where was this book when I was in nursing school?!). And he makes things seems practical, realistic, and attainable. All qualities we can appreciate.
In just the first sitting with this book, I learned more about creativity–and harvesting it–than I have in well, maybe my whole life. It’s not that the book is a “how-to” by any means, but it does take simple ideas and the process of thinking to a whole new level. For example, who knew that they color blue actually helps test-takers relax and do a better job than say the color red? (May sound simple enough–red evokes the dreaded stop sign or pen from your teacher). But there is actual brain science that backs all of that up.
There’s a reason you come to epiphanies while you are jogging or hanging out on the elliptical machine. It’s because your brain is relaxed, able to wander. When you sleep, your brain is still working and you may get flashes of insight when you dream–if you pay attention. Even daydreaming is scientifically studied–those who daydream, or can’t let go of a problem–are often more creative.
What the book also explains is that most creative folks only tell you about the end product of their creativity–their art, their music, their writing, their invention, their whatever…but never the frustration. All creative types are persistent and have come across lots of stumbling blocks. They may have been frustrated with a particular item (as in the mop–hence the development of the Swiffer), or just looking for a new idea to save time and hassle (Scotch Tape and Post-It notes). Creative folks have been there. They have been pissed off and down in the dumps. In fact, that is covered, too–depression and mental illness, drug use and other “aides” to creativity.
Definitely a book I will keep reading. Thank you, Jonah Lehrer. Much appreciated by this creative type.
- For more information on Jonah Lehrer, see his website, http://www.jonahlehrer.com/
- To read a blog article on how the book may help you be a better writer, see this article by Kathy Stefften http://howtowriteshop.loridevoti.com/2012/07/outside-of-the-box-books-for-writers/
*You are probably wondering why I wasn’t too keen on the book in the first place. It’s simple, really. It was crammed into bookseller windows next to all of the typical graduation gift books like Oh, The Places You’ll Go! and I thought, “Oh, another graduation book.” It was probably just the timing of publication, but in retrospect, this really ought to be a book that everyone reads–new grads, included.