Robert Frost had to choose between only two roads diverging in a yellow woods. Today we have to choose among a bewildering series of clover leaf exchanges connecting high-speed freeways. As we travel the interconnecting paths of our multi-talents, how can we possibly decide which creative roads to take? What will help us traverse the interconnected web of deciding which projects to undertake and which creative disciplines to use?
Using divergent and convergent thinking is a way to avoid the traffic jams having multi-talents can drive us to. Identified by J. P. Guilford in 1967, divergent and convergent thinking are tools for problem solving. Divergent thinking explodes outward from a central point of origin. It’s a tool to expand choices. Think of a cluster diagram or physics vector graph Convergent thinking is a tool to compress choices. It moves ideas back toward a point of origin. One is not better than the other. Both can be useful tools in decision-making.
Divergent Thinking in Action
With divergent thinking you discover along the way. Rather than stopping at what is already defined, you make something new. How? By creating your own definitions.
Try this: Cluster or mind-map your ideas as they arise. Then use the idea bubbles to freewrite about what you want to know more about. You’ve just generated options you can build from.
Review each bubble and the web of connections in the cluster diagram. For freewriting read your work; circle key ideas and underline sentences or phrases that shine. These beginnings set a foundation for making choices, solving problems, and launching into your writing project.
Convergent Thinking in Action
Creativity can be stifled by chaos. To bring order to your creative universe, 1) search for themes, patterns, and commonalities among your choices; 2) Analyze categories that emerge from your original idea; and, 3) Ask yourself what pulls you towards a particular choice. What pushes you away?
Don’t be afraid to explore your different talents. At the same time, don’t let too many choices become overwhelmingly confusing. Include balanced sanity as part of your creative goal.
Use these tips to gain clarity:
· Ask yourself: Can I say “yes” to all the possibilities I
uncovered through divergent thinking? Do I feel comfortable with the
simplification convergent thinking provided?
· Be like Oprah Winfrey. Say “no” as easily as you say “yes.
· Accept that life is the art of improvisation.
Choose a creative road to roam. Walk to the next fork and choose a path to follow. Don’t fret about getting lost. Soon enough you’ll find your way home, enriched by your exploration.
Pose questions about practical
creativity; give ideas for future cycle themes; and join in the dialog. Learn more about creating connections through the arts and across cultures at http://www.riehlife.com. And, heh! “Sightlines: A Family Love Story in Poetry and Music” won an award at the San Francisco Book Festival http://bit.ly/aZVd1e.