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Old Creative Advice

By Peter Lloyd

In a letter to a friend suffering from "lack of creative power," Friedrich Schiller writes, "it hinders the creative work of the mind--if intellect examines too closely the ideas already pouring in... at the gates."

Ideas pouring in at the gates, you say? What ideas? What gates? What do you do when there are no ideas pouring in at the gates?

Don't be such a baby! They're there. You just don't recognize them. Our brains are still wild-animal organs, generating more ideas than we can possibly keep up with. That's why some of us do drastic things to drown them out, like watching "Dancing with the Stars"!

And because our brains don't have call-waiting or voice mail, we have to stop and take some of these incoming ideas. Unless we hang up, sit by the phone a little while, and then listen when we do get a call, our unconscious isn't going to bother.

And when the ideas do start marching in, we need to do as Schiller advises:
In the case of the creative mind... the intellect has withdrawn its watchers from the gates, and the ideas rush in pell-mell, and only then does it review and inspect the multitude. You... are ashamed or afraid of the momentary and passing madness which is found in all real creators... you reject too soon and discriminate too severely.
Thank you, Herr Schiller, for a beautiful description of the "passing madness" that so many creative gurus still urge us to embrace today.

Peter Lloyd is co-creator with Stephen Grossman of Animal Crackers, the breakthrough problem-solving tool designed to crack your toughest business problems.

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