Learn how to be creative anytime and anywhere. Creativity Explained is not an easy thing, given creativity is an intangible thing (you can’t pick it up and put it neatly into a wheelbarrow). What’s the best way to do this? Rather than give you a long long scientific explanation of what is creativity, let me give you an experience of it instead. In particular, a direct experience of a creative moment. And the best way to do this is to play a game.
The Martians Game
Games are fun, right? This game, I call The Martians Game. The aim of the game is to see the world as a Martian or alien might.
I’m going to describe an everyday situation. But I’m going to describe it as if I’m a Martian or an alien. I’ll describe what I’m seeing and hearing in a literal way – without the usual labels we have for things. And your challenge is to guess what the situation or thing is that I’m describing.
Now if you’re with a group of people watching this video and playing this game it’s important that you don’t blurt out the answer here. If you do, you’ll spoil this for everyone else.
Creativity Example 1
Based on these clues, see if you can work out where I am.
- I walked into this place.
- And I sat on a piece of wood.
- A person came up to me and gave me a bit of paper.
- I pointed to something.
- They came back with a dead animal.
- I sat for a while.
- Then I gave them a bit of plastic.
- And then I left.
Did you get it? What was I describing?
Hopefully, you’ve worked out I went into a restaurant and had a meal. Let’s debrief what just happened.
- I walked into this place (inside a building)
- And I sat on a piece of wood. (table, chair)
- A person came up to me and gave me a bit of paper. (the person was a waiter and they handed me a menu)
- I pointed to something. (I chose a meal from a menu)
- They came back with a dead animal. (a cooked meal, which could be chicken, fish, beef, lamb…)
- I sat for a while. (While I was eating)
- Then I gave them a bit of plastic. (My credit or debit card)
- And left. (I walked out of the restaurant)
Creativity Example 2
- The other day I was walking down the street and I heard this noise – Bop. Bop. Bop.
- And then it stopped. Then it started again. Bop. Bop.
- Then it stopped again. Then it started again. Bop.
- Another pause. Bop. Bop. Bop. Bop. Bop. Bop. Bop.
- I started walking toward the sound and I saw a big metal cage. It was 15 feet or 4 metres high. And it was 120 feet or 40 metres long.
- Inside were two people. They were running and stopping. Running and stopping.
- And between the two people in the middle of the cage was a big banner. It wasn’t a solid banner – It had big holes in it.
- The people were counting something but not in a regular way. They called each other love. And they would say ‘out’ a lot.
Have you worked out what I’m describing? It’s a game of tennis. Now if we play those clues backwards, they all make sense.
- The bop is the sound of the tennis being hit.
- The wire cage is the court fence.
- Inside the court, the two people were tennis players.
- They ran during points and stopped running when the point was played.
- The banner with holes in it was the net.
- The scoring in tennis is – love, 15, 30, deuce, game.
- And when you play without lines people you call ‘out’ when the ball lands outside the lines of the court.
Creativity Explained – How to be creative
The heart or core of creativity is a realization. At one point you didn’t know what I was talking about – and then you did.
That’s why a light bulb is a common analogy for creative insights. We go from dark to light. From not knowing to knowing.
That’s creativity – and you can apply this to any situation – whether it’s your work, your art or your life.
I think this quote from French painter Claude Monet says a lot…
To see, we must forget the name of the thing we are looking at.
The Martians Game is based on language. And Monet cuts to the heart of this – when we can look past the labels we have for things we can see them in fresh ways – we can have creative moments or creative insights.
You can use this to be creative in any situation – anytime and anywhere. All you need to do is describe your current situation as a Martian or alien would see it. The key is to look for an objective or factual interpretation of what is happening. Describe what you see without the interpretations or the labels. For instance, ‘I sat on a piece of wood’ as compared to ‘I sat in a chair’.
Your Creative Challenge
Your creative challenge – if you choose to accept – is to create your own examples of Martians.
For instance, how would describe:
- Driving a car
- Taking a shower
- Playing tennis (your favourite sport)
- Buying groceries
- Doing your work (this could be a tricky one)
Then share this with a friend or colleague and see if they can guess it. When I’ve played this game in my Being Creative workshops, participants have given feedback saying this was the most fun they’d had in a long time.
Plus, I’d love to hear about your creative moment.
Add a comment below and let me know what your experience was in playing The Martians Game.
If you want to be more creative, here are a couple of other videos that can inspire you.
More to help you Be More Creative
If you would like to be more creative in your life and at work, then you might like to read these posts next:
- Five Creativity Synonyms to be more creative at work
- Double your Creativity in under 10 minutes
- Be More Creative Today with this simple Neuroscience Hack]