Isaac Asimov on how to come up with new ideas

Isaac Asimov on how to come up with new ideas

https://ift.tt/3pvdo0e

In 1959, science fiction great Isaac Asimov penned a delightful essay about the nature of creativity that was almost entirely unknown until 2014 when one of his old friends discovered it in a file and Technology Review published it. From “On Creativity” by Isaac Asimov:

A person willing to fly in the face of reason, authority, and common sense must be a person of considerable self-assurance. Since he occurs only rarely, he must seem eccentric (in at least that respect) to the rest of us. A person eccentric in one respect is often eccentric in others.

Consequently, the person who is most likely to get new ideas is a person of good background in the field of interest and one who is unconventional in his habits. (To be a crackpot is not, however, enough in itself.)

Once you have the people you want, the next question is: Do you want to bring them together so that they may discuss the problem mutually, or should you inform each of the problem and allow them to work in isolation?

My feeling is that as far as creativity is concerned, isolation is required. The creative person is, in any case, continually working at it. His mind is shuffling his information at all times, even when he is not conscious of it. (The famous example of Kekule working out the structure of benzene in his sleep is well-known.)

The presence of others can only inhibit this process, since creation is embarrassing. For every new good idea you have, there are a hundred, ten thousand foolish ones, which you naturally do not care to display.

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November 14, 2020 at 05:39AM

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