Saturday, September 22, 2012

Are You Thinking Outside the Box? Should You Be?

A basic litter box and a bag of litter
A basic litter box and a bag of litter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As a writer, I'm a student of creativity and innovation.  One of the things I'm always challenging myself to do is think outside the box, move outside my comfort zone and CREATE.  It's not always easy.  It certainly doesn't come naturally.  Sometimes I tell myself that everything new as already been done.  Every story has already been told.  Every medium has already been  explored.  What's a writer, an artist, a creator to do?

Every month I get Success magazine and one of the great perks of the magazine is the CD that comes inside.  Darren Hardy, the editor of Success interviews various innovators, creators, business mavens, etc.  on the CD and this month's interview includes one with Steve Shapiro who talks about innovation.  He trashes several of the accepted methods of being creative that I just mentioned.  In particular, he says that much like the cartoon of a cat in a litter box who says, "I do some of my best thinking inside the box." we don't necessarily need to think outside the box... we just need to make sure we're in the right box.  Another concept he used to develop innovative ideas was linking one aspect of the problem with another.  The example he gives in the interview is this:  he asks a group to come up with as many uses as they can for a brick.  He then pairs the brick with something else: a bathroom or the human body for example and then asks for as many uses as they can think of now.  He says pairing the brick with something else always improves the creative responses exponentially.

I thought about this today as I was working on the surprise that I will have available on book launch day, September 30th.  Chris Owensby, the choir director at my church was helping me record an audio CD of each of the Wyatt stories.  I came up with the idea this summer to include a CD with each Wyatt book so that children too young to read could enjoy the story by listening and following the pictures in the book.   Making the CD was great fun but a very different experience from anything I've done before.  While I've read the stories to numerous classes of children, reading into a mic after someone has just told you not to make your "p"s sound too puffy and to watch how you say any word with "f" in them, well, can I just say it makes you a little self-conscious?

After I finished, Chris asked if I'd ever thought of reading the stories but having music (he's a choir director after all) and a slide show to accompany them.  Not being the musical sort, it had never occurred to me, but don't you think it's a great idea?  Wouldn't kids just love the drama and movie like quality of that?  The end result was that we agreed to collaborate on something like this.  I'm more than excited!  

I think this experience represents what   Steve Shapiro says about innovative thinking.  Don't worry about thinking outside the box, just make sure you're in the right box.  It also demonstrates the effectiveness of pairing things together to create the most innovative idea possible.

So now you know the surprise that will be available on book launch day for Wyatt readers!!  For anyone purchasing a Wyatt book from my website or at the book launch party, I will include an audio recording of the story!  Remember to check it out at Wyatt's website

What about you?  Are you thinking in the right box?  Are you outside the box?  Where do you do your best thinking?
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  1. I don't really know WHERE I do my best thinking but you have really come up with some great ideas so I am going to have to start doing my best thinking where ever you do yours. Sounds like you have really got some wonderful ideas and products, Lynne. Great post.

  2. Wow! Great idea for the CD, Lynne. I also like the concept of finding ourselves in the right box. I'm pretty sure I'm in mine! :)
    Looking forward to the book launch!

  3. @ Kathy and Martha--thanks for stopping by!

  4. I can count on you, Lynne, to inspire and challenge. This must be an exciting time in your life, with the book launch, and now the CD and music… you must be living right, with all that encouragement and support you’re receiving from others. Wish I could be there to support you live,not just in spirit. How exciting for you!
    For the most part, I believe I’m an out-of-the-box soul. I’m going to ponder this thought on connecting two things different and see what I come up with though. Worth the try.