This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Art of Learning" by Josh Waitzkin. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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Can you inspire creativity on demand? Or does creativity only come in fits of spontaneity?
Your creative muse can come and go of its own volition. But you can also conjure creative inspiration on demand. To this end, create triggers for creative states.
Here’s how to inspire creative states whenever you want.
Systematize Creative States
Each of us will discover that particular emotions inspire creativity more than others. To find these, sit with all your emotions as they arise, experience them mindfully, and then note them down. Over time, you’ll learn which you draw the most creative energy from.
Once you’ve accessed that creative state through introspection, create a routine and link it to that state. Then, compress the routine until you’ve created an effective trigger.
For example, you might link the tranquility of an early morning walk to some breathing exercises, jumping jacks, and a brief meditation. Then, shorten your walk, breathwork, jumping jacks, and meditation until just a brief walk activates a creative state.
Now practice the habits or activities until they’re linked and your body will begin to associate the routine with the state the walk puts you in. Once you’ve linked the routine to your state, you can perform the routine to activate that state whenever you need it. Eventually, you’ll create a swift, reliable way to “switch on” your creativity mode.
(Shortform note: Csikszentmihalyi also discusses finding “flow” throughout your everyday life. He gives several criteria for creating flow-state experiences. Typically, such experiences involve deep concentration, a well-defined goal, a tight feedback loop that allows you to adjust your efforts, and a difficulty level that pushes your abilities without causing you to feel out of control. By intentionally setting up conditions like these, you can consciously create flow experiences instead of hoping that they’ll come along naturally.)
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- Life advice from chess prodigy and tai chi World Champion Josh Waitzkin
- Detailed looks at the psychological and technical sides of skill-building
- How to build any skill from the bottom-up