Creative choices

A hundred thousand million haikus

mehatAll of our communication as humans mirrors the creative act. For example every time we speak we engage in a creative act. The communication starts out as a feeling, turns into a thought and forms a concept that hopefully finds expression ‘out there’, with other people.

Even just talking means choosing words from the ranges on offer, and constructing sentences to convey meaning. On this level we all make creative choices every time we speak.

A simple exercise demonstrates this complexity and is a playful introduction to the exercises later in this book. In conversation we design sentences subconsciously, sometimes without thinking them through at all! We have become so skilled at using language that we can often put conversation onto ‘auto-pilot’.

Below is a ‘blank’ format for a haiku, a form of Japanese poetry based on a syllabic form of three phases of 5, 7 and 5 . The key words have been replaced with numbers:

All [1] in the [2]

I [3][4][5] in the [6]

[7] the [8] has [9].

The table below contains ten options for each possible word. They are chosen from words that are more poetic than scientific. Skim down through the nine lists, one at a time and select a word that appeals to you from each. Then write down the format above, with the words you have chosen in place of the numbers. You will construct a Haiku-by-numbers!

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
gold night see bright moon trees hush sun gone
dew day paint blue pools woods warm bloom passed
sharp leaves smell dark air moss cold wind flown
soft sea give scent stream peaks red bird grown
glad clouds call pure trees home yell boat curled
peace lake sing green moss woods call crow come
storm field move sweet sound bread cool skin tears
sleep church leap cloud land light zap hair gifts
fast spring taste sharp stars ghost blush eye missed
speed bus love soft river house glad face iced


All sharp in the night

I leap pure air in the woods

Hush the wind has gifts.

Even with just this simple format and vocabulary of only ninety words there are a hundredthousand million haiku options here in this 17 word construction. Most of the haikus generated by this method will be meaningless, but somewhere lurking in there are probably a couple of good ones, (I haven’t tried them all!)

This is the level of complexity we engage with every day in just constructing language. We allow our subconscious minds to select from the lists of most probable words we know. If we had to consciously think through each choice of word and sentence construction, conversation would become extremely slow. You are incredibly creative. Just by talking a language, by unconsciously selecting the words and forming them into a cohesive sentence, you are using your subconscious mind to create. The larger the vocabulary you hold, the more choices you have and the more potential for transferring complex meanings to the reciever of your message, (should they hold the same meanings for the words).

Whether we are communicating with words, or with music, colours, art or dance – we are still selecting from the ranges of what we know. For another example – take dressing. Today I am choosing from my clothes instead of ‘words’. For the purpose of this example I have listed simple ‘limited to 4’ subsets of ‘clothes’ below:

blue tie jeans white smart jumper
red tie smart black blue stripes hoody
striped tie fawn chinos light green T suit jacket
spotty tie suit pale pink coat
smart black bowler black scarf
trainers Cuban brown shoulder bag
walking Panama canvas gloves
sandals beanie baler twine sunglasses

There are all sorts of rules and conventions which govern the choices I make getting dressed here. Am I dressing for work or play? Comfort or display? Travel or social? People who see me will make judgements based on the choices I have made. What I wear will influence how I feel, how I act. Yet every day we take such complexity of choice for granted – and this is just a simplified example.

Extract from simonthescribe’s book on creative thinking, called ‘Create’

simonthescribe writes and publishes articles, books and websites themed around living a sustainable life in tune with nature.