Scratching for Ideas

I found myself working way too hard at my scratching exercise. When I read the chapter on scratching in The Creative Habit, these were my primary takeaways:

  • The act of changing your environment is the scratch
  • The Environment should be conducive to “finding an answer” though
  • Scratch for little ideas first to get you going
  • Scratching can be reading, conversation, environment, culture, heroes, mentors, nature
  • You can’t just stop at one idea. You don’t have a workable idea until you combine two ideas.

I found myself trying to identify the answer I was looking for and plot where I would go to “change my environment”. I felt stuck because I am a very reflective person, always letting my mind wander to creative ideas no matter where I am, but here I was up against a deadline to perform this “scratching task” and arrive at some kind of epiphany about my final project. I felt like my creativity was just on the other side of a glass wall and I couldn’t reach it.

Twyla Tharp says, “Scratching takes way longer when you are rusty.” Rusty is an understatement for me because I have never done an exercise like this before. It felt foreign to me so I found myself clinging to the “instructions” of how to do it.

Ultimately, I decided to let go and make this assignment whatever I wanted. I went to Barns and Noble to check out some magazines to try and get a better idea of what true connection between two people looks like. I haven’t been to the book store in years but going there always puts me in a different state of mind – almost more open. I browsed the magazine racks looking at every cover, even if the magazine was on a subject that was completely uninteresting to me. I wrote down all of the words, either ones that I saw, or that popped into my head because of something that I saw, that captured the feeling of true connection to me. I didn’t come away with a “workable idea” but I do feel like I am one step closer to describing my vision of interpersonal communication.

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