Change Your Tools For Creative Thinking

The saying goes that a bad workman always blames his tools. If he is really skilled he ought to be able to finish the job with the same equipment as others in his profession.

Whilst there is undoubtedly a fair amount of truth to that, it is also possible to increase creativity by dropping the tools you are working with and picking up some new ones, even if you have never used them before. Yes, this works much better in a creative arts context that an engineering one but everybody should at least consider how it might be applicable to them!

Imagine a guitarist sitting in a studio, trying to find the right melody to lay over the top of a bass line. Nothing seems to be working and he has been trying for hours, getting more and more frustrated. He then gets up and walks over to the piano, an instrument he has only very limited experience with.

Because of his unfamiliarity, he is able to forget about the ‘work’ focus he has when he plays guitars and taps into a genuine ‘play’ mode like a child unaware of deadlines and his record label bosses. Paradoxically, he finds the melody he has been looking for because of both his improved state of mind and the piano not being associated with ‘work’ or ‘an afternoon of complete frustration’.

We might say that a bad workman blames his tools, but an uninspiring one never tries the other tools he has access to. Once again, this technique relies on a simple change of context or perspective. A new context or perspective allows us to view a problem in a new light and consequently address it in a slightly different way.