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Zig Zag : The Surprising Path to Constant Creativity



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A science-backed method to maximize creative potential in any sphere of life With the prevalence of computer technology and outsourcing, new jobs and fulfilling lives will rely heavily on creativity and innovation. Keith Sawyer draws from his expansive research of the creative journey, exceptional creators, creative abilities, and world-changing innovations to create an accessible, eight-step program to increasing anyone's creative potential. Sawyer reveals the surprising secrets of highly creative people (such as learning to ask better questions when faced with a problem), demonstrates how to come up with better ideas, and explains how to carry those ideas to fruition most effectively. This science-backed, step-by step method can maximize our creative potential in any sphere of life. Offers a proven method for developing new ideas and creative problem-solving no matter what your profession Includes an eight-step method, 30 practices, and more than 100 techniques that can be launched at any point in a creative journey Psychologist, jazz pianist, and author Keith Sawyer studied with world-famous creativity expert Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Sawyer's book offers a wealth of easy to apply strategies and ideas for anyone who wants to tap into their creative power.

Author Biography

Keith Sawyer, PhD, is associate professor of psychology, education, and business at Washington University in St. Louis. An accomplished jazz pianist and former video game designer for Atari, he has published widely on the topics of collaboration and creativity. His book Group Genius won awards from Library Journal and (800) CEO-READ and has been translated into many languages. He is the proud owner of a collection of vintage Grateful Dead bootleg tapes, his childhood piano teacher's old (but working) accordion, and a 1982 BMW motorcycle (also working). To learn more, visit

Table of Contents

Introduction: Choosing Creativity 1

Step One ASK: How the Right Questions Lead to the Most Novel Answers 19

Find the Question

Search the Space

Transform the Problem

Step Two LEARN: How to Prepare Your Mind for Constant Creativity 49

Practice Deliberately

Master Your Domain

Learn Forever

Balance Specialty with Generality

Step Three LOOK: How to Be Aware of the Answers All Around You 73

Use Fresh Eyes

Grab New Sights and Cool Sounds

Render It Visible

Step Four PLAY: How to Free Your Mind to Imagine Possible Worlds 101



Find the Right Box

Be a Beginner

Step Five THINK: How to Have Way More Ideas Than You’ll Ever Need 129




Step Six FUSE: How to Combine Ideas in Surprising NewWays 153


Make Analogies

Do a People Mash-Up

Step Seven CHOOSE: How to Pick the Best Ideas and Then Make Them Even Better 173

Know What You’re Looking For

Host an Idea Competition

Look Past the Good

Edit, Revise, Improve

Step Eight MAKE: How Getting Your Ideas Out into the World Drives Creativity Forward 195

Draw It

See It

Build It

Make It Concrete

Reflect on It

Conclusion 215

Appendix A: Outline of All of the Steps, Practices, and Techniques 229

Appendix B: The Research Behind the Eight Steps 237

References 243

Acknowledgments 261

About the Author 263

Index 265

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