Metaphor is to the human mind what folding is to science.
Everything is made of folds - the earth, our DNA, illness and health in the folding and unfolding of protein molecules, the human brain, our clothes, the folding and unfolding of our memories, metaphors and dreams ...
A few weeks ago, as I was watching a documentary about origami (Between the Folds by Vanessa Gould) I found myself thinking about Clean Language, what it means to me, my experiences with it and how I have formed a…
Jewels Carter runs a devised drama group at which meets on a project-by-project basis at The Art House in Southampton. They aim to to perform twice a year, and to give everyone a flavour of the whole creative process, regardless of ability.
They were a month away from performing a production called 'Tinkering' when disaster struck. Four actors pulled out en-mass with less than four weeks to go. Jewels felt she had exhausted all the ideas and so was a little apprehensive about continuing, even though it would be even worse to stop and let everyone down.
So she decided to put her new Clean Language skills to the test, and took a deep breath and asked the remaining three actors,
"What would you like to have happen?"
How can we create a workshop that's 'clean' (i.e. attempts to not give people our models, theories, ideas, suggestions, advice and metaphors but instead creates experiences that enable them to learn from themselves and others) AND which has a distinct topic?
This is the challenge Penny Tompkins and I set ourselves when we first conceived our Discover Your Assertive Self workshop - and it took a LOT of thinking about. We were so tempted to add in a few pearls of wisdom, and to talk about our favourite models! We had to be strong for each other when one of us made a 'let's tell them' kind of suggestion. We had to notice what assumptions were going into activities we were designing. And we had to acknowledge that it was impossible to make no assumptions at all. Even the name of the workshop has an assumption or two: that everyone has an 'assertive self' for example, and that it's possible to 'discover' it.
Practice Group Report
First-timers to the group this month were Morven (all the way from London) and Jonathan - Welcome! Our topic was Creativity, and we started the meeting by asking "What is Creativity?" Responses included: putting things together that haven't been put together in that way before; non-linear, not obvious; taking risks, ignoring normal boundaries; something that happens in response to "You can never do that!"
Musing about creativity and wondering what it might be, since it is not a thing, it occurred to me that there are aspects of the creative process that are similar to the process of change in general.
There are, I suppose, many models of change – one that I am familiar with is known to me as ‘The Stages of Change’. James Prochaska, John Norcross and Carlo DiClemente developed this model, identifying 6 stages of changing fully described in their book Changing For Good. Many people find this a useful roadmap in evaluating where they are in the process of making changes. Have a look at this website to get a potted description of the model: http://www.proactive-coach.com/resolutions/theory/index.htm
On Radio 2 this morning, Alex Lester interviewed the Kaiser Chiefs (the inde rock band) about their creative process. It starts with a 'flash of inspiration' which may be a guitar or piano piece or some lyrics. This forms the main body of the song. The group then work together, playing, refining and developing the sound until it either works (i.e. it's sounds like Kaiser Chiefs') or it becomes clear it's not going to work. When it works, it can take just two hours to develop a song from scratch. And yet, even though they were 'desperate to get another album together', it took them almost a year to create their latest album, Yours Truly - eight months to write the songs and seven weeks to record them. when they are not writing they are busy playing and rehearsing.
When I am working on the 'technical' bits of this website - choosing colours, getting columns to line up properly in a table, or buying stock photos, for example - I often wonder whether other people would describe the process as 'creative'.
I am a fan of Robert Fritz, author of "Creating" and "The Path of Least Resistance" - and I know that he would definitely consider this to have been a creative process. He describes the need to have a purpose (i.e. in this case, a good looking website) and to set up a tension between that purpose and current reality. To illustrate this, he uses the metaphor of an elastic band stretched between the two and suggests that the creative process is all about reducing that tension, so you gradually make it towards your goal.
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