Via email, I asked four friends and colleagues, “What do you do to stimulate creative thinking?” I posted their responses, then interpreted each in a quick visual sketch.


“Sweet question. I’ll be super interested to hear what types of patterns you find in people’s answers, if any.

I find I like to write from a box rather than a mountaintop — as in, I like to enter a creative space through intensive structure rather than intensive possibility. When I write, I start with a point-blank description of a meal, and take it from there. When I present to an audience about the Yale Farm, I like to ground my speech in photos of the farm and do my best to stay on the farm as I improvise.

I quickly become dizzy with possibility when I start without such structure. I often short-circuit my ability to be playful by trying to be profound or resonant too quickly. When I begin by confining myself, I want to overflow those confining walls, and so I do it. And then the momentum begins, and the process becomes ambitious. An image for this process might be a shot glass in a tea cup in a pint glass in a bucket in a bathtub. I like to fill the little shot glass first, and then trickle into the teacup, and then the pint glass…

That’s my thought for now. Put the blinders on, and then get mad that they’re on and take them off.”



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