Creativity and Learning 5/1/22

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

Albert Einstein once said that learning is not a linear process.  In fact, it involves a series of intuitive leaps with periods of lack of progress in between.  This can be frustrating, as I’m finding now with my guitar.  In fact, it’s made worse because failure to progress also tends to lead to a lack of desire to continue practicing and trying (leading, in fact, to backsliding). 

When I was in college, I took on a variety of jobs each summer, wanting to do something different every time as I assumed that, once I graduated, I would be working in chemistry and wouldn’t have the opportunity to experience those jobs again.  One year, I worked as an inventory taker.  The jobs usually started somewhere around nine in the evening and would continue to about three in the morning (when there were no or few shoppers around).  We had a recording device that had a large keyboard (like the square number pad on old keyboards like the one I’m working on now) that would hang around and to our side.  The goal was to touch nothing (if possible); you simply looked back in the shelf and count the number of any type of unit.  You would then just type in the number and price per unit. 

I struggled.  It was new, and I was being very cautious.  When the supervisor would check, though, I was always right on the money.  One day, mid aisle, something in me just popped.  I had that intuitive leap, and suddenly I was just flying through them.  I’d hit my stride.  Something just clicked, and there I was, able to work several times faster than ever I had before. 

It’s a curious sensation.  Today, I had a creative leap in intuition, a new idea for a book that seems like it would be an amazing story if I am more successful at keeping up with the writing than I have been my other ideas.  My excitement is high, my motivation is through the roof, and the story, even as I am just now writing down the idea, has already taken twists and turns I hadn’t anticipated. 

Those of you who have been reading my short stories have an idea of the demons that torment my thoughts, unless you’ve been reading the Christmas stories which, frankly, are just a little gift for you all.  Yes, my idea is truly a horrific one, Biblical in nature, though.  It will be dark and evil, though, so it should be a fun ride. 

A few times in my life, I’ve had that intuitive leap.  I still remember a few of them, and as a former teacher, it was those leaps that I loved most about working with students.  It seems like they would sit in my office, struggling with some concept, not getting it, as I tried various approaches to help them over the hurdle.  Suddenly, a light would shine on their face.  Their eyes would open wide, their jaws would drop, and that soft “oohhh” could be heard.  In fact, I just had an intuitive leap as I almost wrote “…would cross their lips that I so craved,” but the intuitive leap told me that it would be misinterpreted.  So, I didn’t write it, and you’ll never know that I had even thought it.

Having such intuitive leaps often feels spiritual to me.  These ideas often feel so far beyond my own abilities that I will often, as I did today, utter a little “thanks” to God.  I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’m not religious, but I am spiritual.  I do believe in God, I just don’t pretend to understand her nature, and I’m okay with that.  Are such leaps from God, or not?  Does she hear me when I tell her “thank you”, or not?  I guess it doesn’t really matter.  If there is a God who is actually listening, then she deserves my gratitude.  If not, it still makes me feel better.

So, the next step in my new book is an outline.  I’ve written down the main points, and my overall idea.  Usually, in my horror books, I like writing thirteen chapters.  Somehow it just feels appropriate.  I learned some time ago (when writing my first and to date only book) that if I just write two pages (minimum) per day, I can finish the first draft of a book in just a few months.  These blog posts are about a page and a third, and of late I’ve been writing two or three a day.  So, I’ll slow down to writing one post per day, and start writing the new book.  Wish me luck!

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