Creativity Galore (Part I)

I have broken this exploration of a conceptual system for creativity and the inventive process  into two parts. This is because I absolutely feel that the topic warrants such attention, so let’s hope I do it justice.


Finding new and different ways to utilize my floor-to-ceiling mirror whiteboards is always a fun distraction from the task of working on my current manuscript. Early in my writing, I was drawn to adapting conceptual frameworks designed for other purposes to the task of idea-creation and narrative structuring. Some of my favourite insights from this approach came from exploring TRIZ, a system, as I understand it, originally designed to formalize, codify and capture the inspirational component of the inventive process. TRIZ (which translates from the Russian as Theory of Inventive Problem Solving) was designed by Genrich Altshuller, who was an inventor, amongst other things.

Mr Edison and That 1%

The previously mentioned wikis relating to TRIZ and Altshuller are worthy of the time spent reading them, as they offer amazing insights for anyone at all interested in the creative process. Thomas Edison famously said: ‘What it boils down to is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration.’ I hasten to add here that I do not have delusions of grandeur (beyond the usual ones of any human being) and I realize that I am neither Thomas Edison, nor am I a genius. However, Altshuller and TRIZ offer us all the possibility of spending as much time getting that key idea, or big step forward, and as little time banging our heads against the creative wall, waiting endlessly for inspiration.

The Mechanics of TRIZ

I must confess that I have found gaining an in-depth understanding of the scientific application of TRIZ has ultimately eluded me, due to the specific nature of the framework. This can be seen in the extraordinary (and enormous) ‘matrix of contradictions’ chart that proposes specific inventive approaches to problems that are regularly encountered by engineers and inventors. What I have found are some helpful heuristics that can be applied throughout all inventive thinking, rather than precise rules for problem solving.

To Be Continued

In my next post, I will outline my attempts to employ TRIZ concepts to improve my writing, both in relation to form and structure.

Be well.