Creativity, Part 3 of 10: The techniques

Part 1Part 2 |  Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10

Welcome back! In the last installment, we experienced the nasty end of the Prince of Arbor, and the exciting continuation of the Prince of Belle as he arrived in the distant land. Let’s check in to see what he learned from the magicians.



The Prince of Belle and Tony traveled to the outskirts of the city, down a little-used path, and into a cheerful wood. There, amidst the wisdom of the forest, three other magicians, filled with great interest, came out of their dwellings to meet them.

With obvious respect, Tony introduced his friends. “This is E’mussa, Ras and Art, three of the most amazing people you will ever have a chance to meet.” There was great merriment and laughter when the four were together. The other three playfully teased Tony about his hand and polished metal idea. Tony did not seem to mind, because of the obvious respect that the four had for each other.

The prince nodded slowly, beginning to see that there was some method to the apparent madness of this adventure. “So, you are all magicians?” he asked.

“Yes, and very good ones, too!” answered Ras energetically, as he produced a coin from behind The prince’s ear. “But we are more than that; we are challengers, imaginers, and creators. We each have a special way of dealing with difficult situations. . We would like to share our wisdom with you, to help you with your challenges. But of course, it’s not just for your current challenges, but for the rest of your life!”

“Now cut that out, Ras. You’re going to confuse our poor Prince so much, he won’t want to play!” said the confident Art, speaking to the group for the first time. Art looked at The prince kindly and began to explain, “I can tell you that the other two Princes who were facing the challenges have already failed. To overcome the challenges, you will need to do something different than they did.  We are here, not just to help you with your specific challenges, but to teach you the tools you need to solve any challenges in your own unique way.”

“So,” The prince said doubtfully, “you believe I can overcome these challenges?”

The looks of astonishment that came over their faces made The prince actually laugh out loud. They all began talking at once. “Of course you will pass the challenges!” “Why, the thought of not passing didn’t even enter into our minds…”

Ras spoke above everyone else to quiet them down, and summed up the sentiment of the feisty band. “Prince, we absolutely guarantee that you will overcome these challenges.”

“Tell me how then,” said the prince excitedly. “Tell me now, for I want to go back and be with my lady!”

“Well…” said Ras, without a hint of merriment, “We don’t know how.”

“But you just said…” started the prince.

“What he said,” interrupted Tony, “was that you will succeed. We don’t know exactly how, that is up to you to discover. You have already begun the process of learning the techniques that will help you overcome these challenges.  Now it is time to get some rest, for tomorrow evening, our journey of learning and discovery will begin!”

The prince looked around at his four new friends, and simply said, “I’m think I am beginning to understand.” With that, the prince’s training began.


The next day, the prince went with E’mussa, Ras and Art  to explore the town. By the time the prince arrived back in the clearing, the sun had already set, and in the purple twilight, he could see Tony excitedly lighting torches in a circle around the clearing. When he saw the prince, Tony hurried over to him, grasping The prince’s hand with his right hand, and clasping The prince’s shoulder with his left.

“Welcome my friend!” exclaimed Tony. “I trust your day was pleasant. Forgive my enthusiasm, but I am so excited to have a new pupil! Come into the circle of light, so we may begin!”

So saying, he took the prince warmly by the arm, and ushered him into clearing.  Tony began talking almost immediately, his arms and

hands gesturing enthusiastically to emphasize his points. “Prince, before we begin, I will tell you that I believe you will have succeeded in these lessons when you have realized the two promises I am about to make to you. When you are done with these lessons, I promise that:

“You will begin to believe that the impossible is possible”


“You will have many more ideas than you ever thought possible”


Tony continued: “So how do you come up with creative ideas, on demand?  One way we have found is to keep our minds loose and flexible by constantly breaking routines in our daily life.”

Ras interjected. “Tony understands that routine and tradition can mean the death of creative ideas, so he constantly challenges himself to look for new ways of doing even the most mundane tasks, even to the point of finding new ways home every day.”

The prince nodded, suddenly understanding why, when they first met, Tony seemed unsure of his way home. “So there is a method to their madness!” The prince thought to himself admiringly.

The prince asked the group, “This may be a silly question, but how does one break routine? If something is routine, I may not even be aware enough of it to break it!”


“Excellent question” said Tony. “We do hold on to patterns. To answer your question, you may want to search under my hat!”

The prince was beginning to feel comfortable with Tony’s way of teaching, so he went over to have a look. Sure enough, upon examination the prince saw, apparently tattooed on Tony’s scalp, the following words:

“Go hang a salami, I’m a lasagna hog!”

The prince looked at the sentence for a long time, and finally had to admit that other than making him realize that he was getting hungry, he wasn’t finding any significance.

Tony then told the prince to think about the following set of words:

Noon, Nun, Eve, Bob

“What do you notice about these words, my willing pupil?” asked Tony.

Almost immediately the prince spoke up, “All of those words are palindromes—they are the same word both backwards and forwards.”

“Right” said Tony, “Now that you know the pattern, take another look at our first sentence.”

“Go hang a salami, I’m a lasagna hog!”

“Oh!” said the prince. “Now I get it! That sentence is a giant palindrome! So, once I see the smaller pattern, I may understand larger, more complicated patterns!”

Tony smiled, and then continued, “I’m suggesting that you regularly break smaller, every day patterns, the routines of which your life is made. Once you can do that, the skill of being aware of larger patterns and breaking them into smaller chunks will flow like water.”


“To breaking routine, we need to develop the willingness to actively

look at every aspect of the world around us and ask questions.”

“As you go through your day develop the habit of constantly

asking “Why do I do what I do, the way I do it?” If the answer is nothing more than “Because I have always done it this way,” then an opportunity to break routine has just presented itself.”

“Another great question to ask is “If we weren’t doing this today, would we start doing it tomorrow?”

It was E’mussa’s turn to tell a story. “I remember my father telling me of a friend of his who had a young son. The father and son were out walking one day when the youngster asked how wind was made. “I don’t know” said the father. “Never knew much about the weather.” A few blocks farther on the boy asked what caused lightning and thunder. “To tell the truth, said the father, “I never exactly understood that myself.” The boy continued to ask questions throughout the walk, none of which the father could explain. Finally as they were nearing home, the boy turned to his father and said “Father, I hope you don’t mind my asking so many questions”. “Of course not” replied the father. “How else are you going to learn?”

The laughter came easily among the members of the group, and the prince realized he felt totally relaxed. He felt as if he had known these new friends for years.

Art jumped in, “Prince, when you first asked us if we thought you could overcome the challenges that await you back home, we all laughed and assured you that you could, but that we didn’t know how.  We said we didn’t know how you would overcome the challenges because there are many, many ways of solving any challenge. We just don’t know which one you will choose.”

“We will now teach you two of the secret techniques of how to generate many solutions to your challenges.


“Did you bring your journal with you, dear prince? You will need it for our next lesson.” The prince produced his journal and Art held out his hand, silently asking permission to look inside.

“Prince, you should always write down your ideas, no matter how small, insignificant or unconnected they may seem.  You never know when a crazy, brilliant idea may come, and you would be amazed how a germ of an idea can turn into something creative later.”

Flipping through the journal, Art continued. “I see you have begun to generate ideas of your own. Excellent!”

“Another way to use a journal is to draw a picture of your idea, or the problem you are trying to solve. Sometimes seeing a pictorial representation of an idea or problem can spark new directions.”

“Also, you could try to start writing everything that is going on in your head about the idea. It is like writing a letter to your creative muse.  There is something very powerful about writing down your thoughts about a topic. It can help clarify thinking like few things can and may help lead to a clear definition of the problem, and some creative solutions besides!”


“Next, we want to share with you the possibilities and difficulties of what most people think is the beginning and the end of the creative process— the ability to generate a wide variety of ideas through the exercise of brainstorming.”

“Brainstorming is the exercise of coming up with as many ideas as possible in a short amount of time, the crazier the idea the better.  This is a good way to start generating new ideas, but not a great way, as we shall soon see.”

“Prince, let’s say that for some reason you have 2,000 blankets you want to sell. Perhaps you purchased these blankets at a great price, only to realize later that you live in a warm climate and no one needs blankets to stay warm. You need to find new uses for your blankets, other than to keep warm, so you can sell them.”

“Take a few moments and come up with as many ideas for ways you can use your blankets, other than to keep people warm.  The crazier the ideas are the better.”

The prince instantly thought of several good ideas. After a few minutes, however, further ideas did not come so easily.  The prince asked “Can you all help me come up with more ideas?”

“Of course!” was the instant answer from the magicians, and together, many more ideas came forth. The prince suddenly understood that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. All of the magicians’ ideas, along with his own generated more ideas than the prince could have by himself.

“Well” said Tony, “We have come up with many great ideas, such as using the blankets for padding under horse saddles, using them as a rain cloak, and so on.”

“This is a good technique because it does generate many ideas.  It’s not a great technique because all it does is empty the group’s collective memory banks of anything that looks about the size and shape of a blanket. The technique usually doesn’t generate truly unique ideas.”

A note from the Author

This segment had a LOT of material in it, such as constant questioning, journaling and brainstorming. Think about how you could implement some of these ideas right away. In the next installment, we get a few more techniques. The next segment is shorter than this one, but it packs a big punch by the name of Random Provocation! Enjoy.

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2020 Gerard A. Evanski. All rights reserved.  Reproduction and distribution without written permission of the author is strictly prohibited.

Are you ready to discuss your upcoming project?