Just the other day one of my friends at church asked me: “Terry, you are a creative guy, what is it like to always be the one who comes up with fresh new ideas?” That was the first time I’d been asked that question and I had to stop and think for a minute. Then I blurted out: “It’s a lot of hard work!” “Really,” said my surprised listener, “it looks so easy. You always seem to pop out with good ideas with no effort.”
Later, as I thought about this conversation, it occurred to me that I could have given a more complete answer so my friend would have a better understanding of the real source of what he called: the apparently easy process of getting fresh, new ideas.
Here’s what I came up with in my thinking. First of all, I’ve learned that thinking is hard work, much harder than the physical labor of digging ditches. If you have ever faced a white artist’s canvas, a block of wood waiting to be carved, or a blank computer screen that is waiting for you to fill it with words, then you can appreciate what I’m saying about the hard work of thinking. Before any of those tasks can be accomplished, I find I have to spend lots of time thinking about the job to be done.
Over time, I’ve learned to put down my paint brush, my carving knife, or turn off the computer – lean back, put my feet up on a footstool, close my eyes and think. For a couple of hours I sit there and I mentally shovel into my brain all of the facts and impressions I’ve gathered about this project over a lifetime. I try to define the problem by asking myself hundreds of questions. This is what I call my: preparation.
Next, I put all of those thoughts aside, get up, take a break and walk down to the newsstand to get the paper, I make some phone calls, or go and get a cup of coffee. I may even take a short nap. I call this my time of: incubation. (To incubate is to keep - as eggs - under conditions favorable for development).
All of this eventually, I stress: eventually, draws my thinking toward a moment in time when I get a clear vision - I call it my “aha” moment that suddenly puts me on the road to a successful solution to the problem at hand. Let’s call this a moment of insight.
Now, my job, my task, is to figuratively pick up this insight and examine it. I mentally turn it around and around, in my mind like a cut diamond, and examine each facet to determine its value. This process of evaluation requires more hard thinking than I want to explain here.
Finally (I bet you thought I’d never get to this), I can begin the exciting work of reducing all of these ideas and thoughts to practice, I can begin to make the idea real, understandable and useful to others in the form of a nautical painting, a hand carved shorebird or an interesting story – such as this. In this way, (which I see as very much like mining my brain for diamonds) my creative thoughts and works are exposed and made clear to all who may be interested.
If you want to see the practical, physical results of this kind of creativity, take a look at the work, the creations, I have displayed on my website: Originals by Weber (www.yrret.stirsite.com). While you are there perhaps you can look at the list of some of the items I've created. (You can see them listed on the left side of the page).