This chapter explains why it is possible to understand creativity as a skill. Readers will learn how creators think as they produce creative products by learning a new model of creativity, the story model. In this model, creativity is a cognitive process of forming insights that change our perspectives, then using those new perspectives to develop inventions as well as new knowledge, or enlightenments. Thus the creative process is not one special moment. The chapter opens with examples that illustrate the story model of creativity as an extended process. It then explains why the story model of creativity is a useful, usable, and desirable way to learn how to be more creative. The chapter concludes by explaining how the story model was developed, and how the reader will learn about its components in the subsequent chapters of the book.
This chapter explains why the structure and function of human memory make the creative process both possible and necessary. Cognitive limitations mean that people cannot think without having a perspective. People need to have a perspective to generate a story that allows them to understand and respond to the situation. Most often, people use their perspective to tell a story. Sometimes, people add to their perspective when new information arises. Creativity results from people changing their perspectives. The three processes, using our perspectives, adding to our perspectives, and changing our perspectives, are integrated in the stoplight model of thinking that underlies the story model of generating creative products. Insight is the first creative product—an idea that restructures creators' perspectives and allows them to imagine previously inconceivable directions in which their stories can go.
This chapter explains why insight is just one piece of the larger story of creativity. Insight changes the direction of the story, but inventions resolve stories. Getting from insight to invention requires developing the insight with additional thoughts and actions. Such activity alters the world, advances the story, and can lead to further insights. Eventually, this might lead to an invention. This chapter also examines the different aspects of our perspectives: parts, actions, goals, event, and self-concept, or PAGES. When people use, add, or change their perspectives to make stories, they are using, adding to, or changing particular PAGES. To generate inventions, people might need to make many changes to PAGES. Thinking about PAGES helps to illuminate how our perspectives are linked to our actions. Thinking about PAGES also helps to understand how much creativity is possible, because of all the possible changes to PAGES there might be.
This chapter closes the first half of the book by explaining creativity's role in learning. People can learn about the world as they pursue their stories. Sometimes, what they learn contradicts what they had thought possible and provides new knowledge. These are the enlightenments. The relationship between creativity and learning is not often discussed, but it may well be the most important gap in conventional ways of thinking about creativity. What seems inconceivable to the novice is a trick of the trade to an expert. Yesterday's scientific breakthrough is today's lesson for students. Creativity as a source of learning means that creativity is a basis for craft every bit as much as craft is a basis for creativity. Enlightenments are the most significant products of creativity, because our knowledge is the basis for all our later thinking and acting. Enlightenments are the source of most human achievement.
This chapter is where readers begin to learn how to use what they have read about in Chapters 2 through 4. It discusses the cues that can signal when changing one's perspective is likely to be useful. There are four main cues: impasse, dissatisfaction, surprise, and crosstalk. The chapter discusses each cue's origin, and what each cue signals about one's perspective. Learning about cues helps readers to better identify when to start the creative process.
This chapter discusses four cognitive tools that help people to change their perspectives. These four main tools are activation, analogy, combination, and recategorization. Each tool operates in its own way, so they have different uses and different results. All of them help with the most challenging part of creativity—developing ways to think differently from how we do now. Examining all four tools teaches why there is more than one way to help ourselves be creative.
Chapter 7 discusses the biggest challenge in the creative process, uncertainty. Uncertainty can keep people from starting the creative process, push people out of the creative process, and cause people to give up on creative products they formed. Yet uncertainty is inherent in the creative process because changing perspectives means moving away from what we can currently conceive. This chapter provides ways to manage uncertainty. It also considers whether some assumptions that people currently have about creativity lead to unnecessary uncertainty and hence can be abandoned. This chapter provides wisdom about how the creative process feels so that readers can have reasonable expectations and do not abandon their creative efforts.
This chapter brings together the lessons of the prior chapters to provide an overview of the creative process and the craft of creativity. It explains how the story model of the creative process can be used to communicate creative products to others. This includes thinking about who the appropriate audience is, as well as how to help those people change their perspectives so that they can understand and appreciate creative products. It also provides suggestions about how to better support others through their own creative processes.