Practicing Creativity

Match each action to the scale of the tool

When developing the whole, the size and scale of your tools will have a direct influence on the scale you can develop in a single step or cycle. A bulldozer and a hammer have very different areas of effect and level of precision—tools with larger areas of effect and lower level of precision are likely to be used in earlier, sketchy and rough cycles to shape and adjust larger centers, while tools with smaller areas of effect and higher level of precision are likely to be used in later, more detailed cycles to shape and adjust smaller centers.

The size of your widest effect tool and your smallest effect tool will determine the the range at which you can Stay at the human scale, from a square centimeter to a city block.

A common way to Get stuck is to try to work at a larger or smaller scale than your tools naturally pair with. If your tools are much smaller than the total area, you'll likely need to work in smaller "sections" that can be developed as a whole while continuing to practice awareness of the much larger whole. If your tools are very large and imprecise, your final result will likely be more sketchy and rough, which should be accepted to maintain wholeness–Wholeness includes roughness. Trying to add Too much detail at too small of a scale with large tools will not only be difficult, it will be out of proportion to the larger centers and smaller centers will be isolated from the coherence of the whole. Meanwhile, having Too much roughness without a layer of detail within will lead to large, patchy centers that aren't held together as a whole via smaller centers.

  • A pencil drawing might be developed in shorter passages than a painting which can be made with a wide range of brush sizes and wide strokes.
  • A city or town is built from the individual actions of many people working within their own homes and neighborhoods—it can't be defined at full scale with a single action.
  • A novel might be developed as a whole using an outline of scenes, drafts of each scene, and connecting moments. A series of novels may be roughly sketched as a whole, but each book is developed and published as a whole.
  • Software is developed with different tools at different scales from high level infrastructure to user interface details, with varying levels of scale within each boundary. Software developers tend to Reduce batch size and increase frequency of changes using small tools to ensure each change is integrated with the whole regularly.

Pages that link here

These are my draft notes on creativity—as a skill, a practice, and a mystery

Reduce batch size and increase frequency
Reduce project size and each step size

Sketch the whole first
Since Creativity is organic, and Morphogenetic creativity starts with wholeness, a key skill is to sketch the whole first

About Practicing Creativity

These are my notes on creativity—as a skill, a practice, and a mystery. Everything you find here is in a perpetual draft state and much of it may not make sense. I hope these notes become clearer over time as I continue writing and updating them, although I hope they might be useful even in disarray.

For updates on new or revised notes, please subscribe to the newsletter!