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Creativity and Problem-Solving

solving puzzles

Let’s face it: If indie publishers and self-pubbed authors didn’t run into problems, there would be no need for the Indie Navigator. So I’m well aware that — at least in the beginning — most folks contact me to help them solve problems. And I usually consider my relationship with them successful when I’ve worked myself out of a job. 🙂

So this begs the question: Why do I want to take on solving these problems?

And the answer is both very simple and a little complex: Because I can.

I am someone who inherently wants to help. It’s in my genes. It’s not convenient or always even a great idea, but I can’t prevent myself from plunging in headlong where I think I can help. And given the many other possibilities for how I could have been born, I’ll take being an innate helper type.

But it’s also because — at least in this industry — I know I CAN help. I’ve been there, from the very beginning of modern indie publishing (and even long before it), and I have made most of the mistakes that a person could possibly make. I want to keep others from having to go through that. It’s not fun, and it’s just not necessary.

But I think another huge motivator for me is that I am often able to see past the problem or challenge to a solution, when the folks who call me just…can’t. I don’t know why — perhaps they’re frightened, maybe they’ve exhausted all their own ideas, or maybe they just don’t understand enough the way things work, and so they’re stymied, seemingly without a path forward.

Whatever the reason, I can usually bring a fresh perspective and very often, there is an easy and obvious way around what seems to them an insurmountable obstacle. Not always, but often. And when the answer’s not quite so obvious, I am lucky that I can almost always find a different way to approach it that reveals a solution we can use.

I’ve always been thankful for this ability, though I never really thought much about it when I was young. I just thought it was something everyone could do. My default mode is, “Yep, sure I can!” until I prove to myself beyond a shadow of a doubt that I can’t (which, by the way, has rarely happened, and I don’t think it’s because I’m extraordinarily skilled. I think it’s just because I believe I can).

Then, as I grew older and gained more experience, I realized that for some people, the default is, “Oh, no way. I can’t do that.” Again, not because they ACTUALLY can’t, but because they believe they can’t. Though this makes me sad, because I feel bad when people don’t believe in themselves, I know now that it simply is the way it is. It’s a fact of life and doesn’t need my judgment. It does, however, need my interest, compassion and desire to help. I believe that’s why we’re here…but that’s a topic in itself, for another place and time.

thirdmetriclogo

This is all a rambling introduction to the fact that today I discovered an extraordinarily well-done blog post at the Huffington Post’s Third Metric project. It’s about the nature of creative people, whom it turns out tend to be pretty good at problem-solving. I have always believed I am creative, not least because I’ve always been told so by many people around me. But I’ve also often wondered what that really means, and at times have challenged the notion about myself — usually when I’m struggling with a creative project.

So I just wanted to share this post with you, because it’s really incisive and deeply probing into the nature and science of creativity — a topic I have been interested in all my life, and become more so each day. I think it’s really worth the read, if not to understand creative people better, then to maybe discover that you, yourself, likely have some creative leanings you just don’t give yourself credit for!

My personal belief is that we’re all born creative — it’s hard to watch a group of kids playing and not think so — but that while some of us retain that characteristic through a mixture of nurture and honoring our own natures, many of us — I daresay maybe most — somehow come to accept that creativity is a special gift reserved only for some, and allow the difficulties of life to just beat it out of us. Again, I find this sad, but mostly I find it disturbing, because this world desperately needs creative thinkers and problem solvers and imaginative wonderers who don’t accept no for an answer.

Just my two cents — I’d love to know what you think.