Inner child and inner critic: a battle for creativity

“It takes a very long time to become young,” Pablo Picasso once said. Adults miss the innocent curiosity of their youth; artists strive to reclaim their lost childlike creativity. The creative process often feels like a constant battle between an inner child and an inner critic. Can this creative battle turn into creative balance? Becoming …

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Creative challenges with Alyssa X

Welcome to a new edition of our interview series, where we meet with prolific creators and go behind the scenes to understand their creative process. Alyssa X is an incredibly talented designer, full-stack developer, and entrepreneur. Beside her full-time job at Metal, she launched many creative experiments. Her portfolio of projects includes a design tool …

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From inspiration to idea sex: how to generate ideas on demand

Blank page syndrome, writer’s block—call it whatever you want, most creators have once faced this overwhelming lack of inspiration. If you do experience writer’s block from time to time, the best reaction is to go do something else: going for a walk, journaling, talking it out with a friend. Better yet, though, is to avoid …

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The art and science of mind wandering

“Sorry, I spaced out, what were you saying?” you ask your friend. It has happened to all of us: we are physically in place, while our mind is in another one. Mind wandering, while it can take many forms, is an experience of thought shared by all of humanity. Some people see it as a …

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From mental map to mental atlas

Mental maps, cognitive maps, mind maps… Scientists and popular psychologists alike have coined all kinds of thinking maps. What’s the difference? While it may be tempting to consider some of these maps more effective than others as thinking tools, the reality is that we need a collection of maps in order to make the most …

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Thinking in maps: from the Lascaux caves to modern knowledge graphs

What do hieroglyphs, flowcharts, road signs, and knowledge graphs have in common? They’re all thinking maps. Humans have been thinking in maps since the very first symbolic communication systems. While thinking in maps may first bring to mind the idea of cartography, a map does not need to be geographic—it can be any symbolic depiction …

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The anatomy of a perfect educational article

Writing an educational article about something you want to learn about may be one of the best ways to study a topic. The Feynman Technique—which I recently discovered may have been coined by Scott Young—helps you understand anything by pretending you are explaining the concept to a child or someone who has no prior knowledge …

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Writing as a thinking tool

Writing has many science-based benefits. It can help you develop your self-authorship, reflect and create metacognitive routines through journaling, and has been shown to make you happier and healthier. For something that’s completely free, it’s a pretty good deal. Beyond these benefits, writing is also a thinking tool. Not only for personal management, but for …

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Programmed creativity: generate ideas on demand

We often see creativity as something that happens to us. There is a thought every knowledge worker or creative has had at some point in their work life: “I don’t feel inspired.” But this idea of creativity as something we either have or we don’t is a myth. In fact, creativity can be programmed. The …

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