Creativity Without Imagination? This Ancient Formula Still Rules

Creativity Without Imagination? This Ancient Formula Still Rules

What kind of content do you write? Is it ads, emails, sales letters? It makes no difference. One formula provides the means for endless ideas. An unusual family trip reminded me of this yesterday.

I packed my two kids in the car to go on a trip to Southden.

Without the benefit of GPS, my six-year-old son acted as navigator. I let his imagination guide us.

“We’re lost. I’ll give it ten more minutes. If we don’t find it, we’re going home.” I told the kids

My older son complained and cried. I told him to use his imagination. That’s all it takes to solve this problem.

You see, “Southden” does not exist. My son invented it. He likes to imagine pretend places and visit them. Sometimes I find it a drag to indulge him. Other times I envy his ability to use his imagination. I hope he holds onto it.

We Forget How To Imagine

I once had that same ability. It faded as I aged. Years later I became a writer. I tried to rekindle that lost art. Can someone become a writer without the vivid imagination of a child?

Maybe fiction writers need it. I don’t know.

Some people claim imagination leads to creativity. I argue that you can be creative without a vivid imagination. I’m not the first to claim this. One of my favorite books on creativity is from 1939. Don’t let this bland title fool you.

A Technique For Producing Ideas by James Webb Young.

Someone recommended that book to me a few years ago. I thought:

“What a boring title for a book on creativity.”

Read the book. I will let you in on the core secret behind creativity. Read the book for the full details. It’s super short.

I warn you. This secret underwhelms. Nobody gasps from an OMG moment.

Three Steps To Unlimited Ideas

  1. Gather information related to your specific area of expertise, product or focus
  2. Gather general knowledge (any info outside your domain)
  3. Combine facts from the two steps above. Create different combinations. In time, you find a fit that works.

By combining two existing ideas, you create something brand new. That’s the core secret behind creativity. It still holds relevance seventy-eight years later.

We may lose the vivid imagination of a child as we grow up. We still hold the ability to be creative. A simple, seventy-eight-year-old formula may be the jump start you need.

The Ultimate Proof

Do you need proof that this formula works?

I use a slight variation of this formula myself. I publish a new article on Medium every day. Today’s article marks one-hundred-forty-three consecutive days. Almost every single one combines something from my personal life with a lesson on writing, persuasion or business.

I recommend you get the book. It’s available on Amazon. You can read it in an hour.


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