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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Why Sharing Your Work, Setbacks & Struggles Breaks Creative Blocks | David Burkus, The 99 Percent


We tend to believe that creative work is a lonely endeavor. But, research – not to mention past precedent – suggests otherwise. In fact, one of the single most effective ways to enhance your creativity is to regularly break the cycle of isolation and interact, talk, and share your work with your colleagues and friends.
In this article, reports on a study of four microbiology labs to gain insights on how new theories are developed. The researcher, psychologist Kevin Dunbar, found that most creative insights and discoveries happened during regular lab meetings, when individual researchers shared their latest findings and their most difficult setbacks.

Burkus writes [emphasis added]:
Dunbar discovered that as the researchers developed analogies, and as other researchers built on the ideas around those analogies, the solutions to their problems just seemed to develop. Sometimes, a researcher would spend a week vexed by a problem and the solution would seem to present itself in just 10 minutes of discussion with peers.
Burkus provides examples from two other research locations and concludes:
These findings imply that getting individuals to regularly connect and share their work, setbacks, and insights can amplify the creativity produced by each. So the next time you get stuck, don't go it alone. Rally your colleagues, or even just a friend, to talk over the problem, and see what happens.
As a writer/editor for more than 30 years, I've met frequently with other writers and editors to discuss work. And from my experience, I believe Dunbar is on to something here.  

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To rally more articles on creativity, see my daily Creativity Connections paper at the Creativity tab above.

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