Creativity Bootcamp: Use Your Senses

April 20 2010 – 04:33pm

This is week 3 of Creativity Bootcamp, based upon the Eight Life Hacks for Creative Thinking. Last week, I told you to Express Your Thoughts by doing some writing. This week, I want you to Use Your Senses.Often times in life, we see someone with great creative talent – or any talent for that matter, and marvel at how they are able to do what they do. The great chef, the talented artist, the magical basketball player – whatever their skill – you can be sure they all got to where they were through essentially the same means. They used their senses, and through trial-and-error, developed their unique approach that makes them special.

The most relatable medium I can think of for understanding this is cooking. Some people are great at it, but even more are absolutely paralyzed at the thought of trying to cook something. I personally used to not cook that much, relying mostly on frozen microwavables.

Eventually I forced myself to start cooking. As someone who suffers from perfection paralysis, in the beginning, making a meal was an incredibly difficult undertaking for me. I would look up a recipe on my favorite recipe site, make a list of ingredients, and – hey, what is a beet anyway? (look up on Wikipedia). I’d finally make a list of all of the ingredients, buy the stuff at the grocery store, and check the recipe 3 dozen times to make sure I was getting everything right. Today, I can improvise a meal – with modest skill – out of whatever is available, and I don’t even own a microwave.

I get the sense that next time, I'll use less heat.

The valuable thing I learned after awhile is that cooking isn’t all that difficult. You get some food, and you heat it up. Wonder what two foods might taste like together? Just smell one, then smell the other, and imagine. If that doesn’t work, then simply try eating them together. The same thing works with spices. Sometimes, you fuck up and overcook, undercook, mis-match, or overspice. Then what? You do it differently next time, and eventually you learn. By Using Your Senses.

This week: cook a meal unlike any meal you have cooked before. That doesn’t mean it has to be extravagant, just something you don’t usually cook. Most of us cook the same couple of things over and over again. If you are in a habit of making hamburgers and pizzas, try making some Glazed Salmon. Always making Chicken? Make some Roasted Pheasant.

While you’re making the recipe, improvise a little bit. Maybe you don’t have some of the spices available, so smell and imagine the spices in your dish. How does it “taste?” If imagining isn’t enough, you might have to try it for real.

The important thing is that you get out of routine, and be forced to Use Your Senses.

PS Don’t forget to nomm your dish.

Fire photo by liber

This post is filed under Creativity.