Innovations – Creativity

Wednesday, November 17th – Are we facing a shortage of creavitity? Patrick Chapin provides you with some great ways to stimulate your noggin and give you fresh perspective in deckbuilding and beyond.

Imagination is more important than knowledge.” -Albert Einstein

Examining Standard halfway through such an oft-played season can be tricky business. Keep in mind, we’re talking about the same cards that were legal before the State Championships. Additionally, we have months to go before we have any idea what Mirrodin Besieged will look like. We’re pretty firmly smack dab in the middle of a very deep season. Where do we start? This is part of what makes Magic such a fascinating game! It’s such a rich and complex world, despite relatively simple textures and edges, that it’s not enough to rely on mere linear thinking or convergent thinking

Linear thinking involves “logical” statements, such as when you think in the form of “If (sufficient condition), then (necessary outcome).” For instance,

people play a lot of blue decks,

Ramp decks with Summoning Trap are better. Convergent thinking brings together information focused on solving problems that have a single, correct solution. For instance, I have these cards, my opponent has those cards, and our life totals are what they are. What is the correct play?

Instead, when faced with open-ended questions (as so very many questions tend to be, whether on the surface or not), we can also use divergent thinking, which in many ways is the very opposite of convergent thinking. Divergent thinking moves away in different directions so as to involve a variety of aspects. It’s this sort of thinking that leads to outside-the-box, novel ideas and solutions and is very much associated with creativity.

“Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have values. Divergent thinking is not the same thing as creativity, however it is an essential capacity for creativity. It is the ability to see lots of possible answers to a question, lots of possible ways of interpreting a question, to think laterally, not just linear or convergent thought.” -Sir Ken Robinson

An example might be the Conley Woods solution to the problem this past spring of how to defend Esper Control from swarms of Vengevines. Many just attacked the problem in a linear fashion; such as if Vengevine coming back is the problem, then the removal we should use should exile it. Others were primarily convergent, such as “U/W is bad against Vengevines, but good against Mythic. Mythic is good against Vengevines, but bad against control. Jund is nearly fifty-fifty versus all of the popular decks. Naya has these matchups, Red has those. Weighing all the percentages of each matchup and the popularity of each deck, we should play
that deck, there.”

Conley challenged the very nature of the “problem.” Who says that you have to play removal at all? Who says you have to play one of those decks? In his question for many possible ways to solve the problem, he challenged basic assumptions such as “The problem is Vengevine coming back.” He asked himself every possible way he could imagine to win a game of Magic against someone that used Vengevine. The result? He tried four Baneslayer Angels and four Abyssal Persecutors (months before they were cool again)! The result? Well, he certainly was teased quite a bit by his friends for being so far out there, but the Esper deck he built crushed Vengevine decks, like Next Level Bant. Conley Woods is a 200-ways-to-use-a-paperclip type of guy, to be sure.

How does one learn to be creative? You’re born creative! Does that mean some lucky few were born creative, and the rest didn’t win the genetic lottery? No! Much the opposite in fact!
Nearly everyone

is born exceptionally creative! Now, here’s the wild part, by the time kids are ten, half of them no longer display strong signs of creativity. By the time they’re fifteen, the exceptionally creative are greatly outnumbered. What causes this? Is this just a very early symptom of age?

Many (myself included) disagree! Society, particularly our educational system, breeds conformity. Most of the first eighteen years of our lives, we’re forced to take countless required classes and standardized tests. To paraphrase Sir Ken Robinson, again:

“We are told there is one answer… it’s at the back of the book, but don’t look… and don’t copy, because that’s cheating! I mean, outside of schools that is called collaboration, but inside of schools that is called cheating.”

How can we rediscover this component of ourselves that lies dormant? How can we reawaken the child inside of us that pretends the grocery store is a dungeon, that people have super powers, that we are Bruce Lee?

Nassif as Bruce Lee

How to Be Creative

1) Limit yourself to only the most vital tools.

Yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard Mark Rosewater say countless times, restrictions breed creativity. Well, guess what? He’s right. If you have a very limited set of vital tools, it will be challenging to produce the desired result, which will force you to be creative in your approach. See how that works! With a smaller set of tools to work with, you’ll get really good at using those tools, refining your ability to wield them to a degree that will allow you to make anything you wish with them. This actually makes you far more creative than someone who’s merely a novice with a hundred tools.

One of my favorite articles that I’ve ever wrote is
A Void but Nothing Missing: Looking Back on 2009.

I decided to write an entire article without the letter “e,” placing a severe restriction on me indeed. It isn’t that I was using one less tool, it was that I was strictly limiting my tools to words without “e,” obviously abstaining from tools that did.

I encountered a variety of obstacles that had to be overcome, if I was to achieve my goal. For instance, it was the end of the year, and I wanted to write a year-end review but couldn’t say year, end, or review! How can I cover the year that just happened, without ending words with “-ed?” What was I to do when a Magic card name I wanted to reference had an “e” in it? How about names of people? I had an image of a card; how do I deal with the word “creature” on the type line, or words like “gets” and “end” in the text box? What about my signature, which features a “The?” This brings up a major hurdle; how do you describe specific items without “the?” “The” is a very, very common word that doesn’t exactly have many synonyms.

The point of all of this was that by the time I finished the article, I had developed powerful systems for using the tools I did have that allowed me to say whatever I wanted without the letter “e.” By restricting myself heavily, I forced myself to come up with creative ways to use the tools I did have.

Now let’s return our view to children. Children have incredibly limited tools to work with, forcing them to be creative with how they use this stick or that tin can. It’s very telling to see just how much fun a kid can have with a cardboard box, yet can end up bored to tears with their eighty video games (not hating on video games, just speaking the truth).

Another place where people are heavily restricted is in prison. As I’m sure you can imagine, prison offers a much, much smaller set of tools than “being free.” As a result, prisoners tend to become incredibly resourceful, imaginative, and creative. There’s a lot of art being made in prisons, and it’s not because the inmates magically have more time. Everyone has 24 hours. The person not in prison could’ve made that vase or painted that picture, but they don’t, because they could do anything they want. So often, when people can do anything, they do nothing.

It’s not just art, though. In prison, people become writers, get degrees, write music, formulate philosophies, master games, invent games, sing, and more. This is certainly not to say that prisons are all sunshine and lollipops, as much of this creative energy gets used for ill. Weapons are crafted out of a broken piece of fiberglass, a sharpened toothbrush, or a “lock-in-a-sock.” New methods of getting high, no matter the harm, are invented. Tattoos are made using a pen, a paper clip, and a melted-down checker. New cons are invented every day, as well as new ways to bend the rules (the restrictions).

2) Let go of perfectionism!

When you’re continually trying to revise things to be what you

is perfect, you often end up cutting off beautiful possibilities. This isn’t to say that you should settle for less than perfect, but rather that during the creative process, a perfect end result shouldn’t be the focus. There’s plenty of time to perfect your art once you know what it is you’re making. This is why when we’re trying new deck ideas, we’re never afraid to put random one-ofs to try a lot of different cards. Worrying about the deck being perfect will impede the creative process. Besides, oftentimes, what we perceive as “flaws” are merely things we don’t understand the beauty of. Jeff Cunningham once played a U/G Madness deck with exactly two Aether Bursts. How many people do you think changed his list without even testing it, assuming it just had to be flawed? As Ffej would say, you don’t just wake up one morning and decide to play two Aether Bursts


be a slave to feedback!

I know that sounds crazy, but during the creative process, it can be very easy to stop thinking for ourselves and adopt the words of those around us as our own. While their words may turn out to make something better, it’s generally less creative, as their words are filled with their own preconceived notions. There’s a time and a place for feedback, particularly when you’re not engaged in the creative process, as well as when you’re stuck. However, can you imagine if Nassif had listened to every bystander (or teammate!) that told him WW couldn’t work or that Faeries couldn’t be Mono-Blue?

If your idea is truly creative, then most people will generally resist them because good ideas change the paradigm, the status quo. People tend to feel more comfortable with things the way they are, rather than the fear of change. It isn’t uncommon for real genius to cause friends, loved ones, and peers to feel threatened.

4) Avoid trends!

This isn’t some hipster angle; it’s just that trends are the opposite of creativity. They can be useful for gaining popularity, making money, or even winning more, but they destroy creativity. This isn’t to say that you ought to avoid trends all the time, but rather when you’re striving to be creative, you probably are better served by marching to your own beat than that of pop-culture, the hive mind, if you will. TV and radio are massive plagues to creativity. They aren’t “bad”; it’s just that they tend to normalize you.

Additionally, while you’re actually being creative, the past is of little consequence. The past is very useful for determining what’s best going forward, but the actual act of creating isn’t where this sort of evaluation takes place. This is much like letting go of perfectionism. There’s plenty of time to worry about if it’s good later! Right now, let’s just imagine what

be possible! Why do you think it’s that the best deckbuilders build nine bad decks for every good one? I know plenty of people that almost always build decent decks. They don’t take any chances; they just copy what’s been winning, rather than ever create something new. Not everyone cares about being creative, but if you do, you can’t be afraid to come up with a lot of “bad ideas.”

5) Spend time alone!

You certainly don’t need to be anti-social or a recluse, but spending a fair amount of time alone regularly tends to have a very positive impact on your creativity. Additionally, positive creative routines can go a long way towards putting you in the right frame of mind to be creative. Some
deckbuilders look for inspiration by scrolling through the
StarCityGames.com spoiler generator.
Others go for a walk to the gas station and imagine the possibilities for a card. Others still will sit in a reclining chair, on the beach, out in the sun, with a pen, a notepad, and a glass of lemonade.

Actual Fantastical Magical Samples

I shouldn’t have to, but just to be clear, you most definitely do not need to play Jace, the Mind Sculptor in the sideboard of this deck, so if budget is a concern, this is a place where it’s not a big deal. For serious, is there any more played out subject than Jace, the Mind Sculptor?

1. Mythics are good/bad for the game!

2. The hive mind, OMG!

3. Grand Prix are


4. I’m not the audience for Premium Content #11 of 18, time to register a throwaway!


needs to be banned! No,

needs to be unbanned!

6. Blue is too good!

Err, where was I?

Readers of this column are surely already very familiar with this new, “more fair,” incarnation of

While this would’ve been an awesome choice for the 2010s and continues to put up reasonable results, it was designed during slightly different days. There was a lot more aggro than there is today, leading to a construction set up to dismantle aggressive decks. The format has been evolving, however. To begin with, Gaea’s Revenge has been seeing more and more play (popularity that I imagine will continue to climb).

This incarnation of Ascension is very much a U/R Control deck that kills with Ascension, more than it is a true combo deck. This kill isn’t actually that fast, and often Gaea’s Revenge will come down on turn 4 or 5, presenting a very fast clock that’s impossible to defend against, with this list. Often, ramp decks can just go “over the top,” and the defense of “I’ll just play a lot of counterspells” holds much less water, given that they already plan on half of their opponents doing this.

Additionally, this build of Ascension isn’t the best against various blue decks. Ratchet Bomb sees a fair bit of play now and should see more. Into the Roil is finally industry standard. The red removal is soft against threats like Persecutor, Grave Titan, and Frost Titan. Now that aggro numbers are much lower, is it time to adjust the maindeck build? What can be done to sideboard more effectively? There are lots of ways to fight, aside from charging into battle.

One exercise that can nurture creativity inside you is to look at the decklist or the physical deck in front of you. Then write down ten ways people can beat you. Then write down three to five ways you can trump each of those plans. For instance, let’s say that after we make our list of ways that people can beat us, first on the list happens to be Gaea’s Revenge.

Gaea’s Revenge is way bigger, faster, more uncounterable, and more protected from our business than anything. Meeting it face-first in battle seems suicidal. So the problem is Gaea’s Revenge presents a Stage 3 that we cannot beat? What options do we have?

To start with, Mindbreak Trap seems like an easy fit for us, if we don’t branch out into wackiness and just want to play a reasonable card that can actually give us chances against their endgame. It might be too much head-on, but it’s a solid counterspell with a variety of applications. Aside from just being an excellent hard counter that’s reliable, it doesn’t trigger Summoner’s Trap, and it stops uncounterable threats such as the Revenge or even the pointy side of Emrakul. Still, it seems somewhat inefficient as a trump, as it merely aspires to even the score after their latest trump, rather than trumping them back.

Another possibility is to keep them off of Stage 3 with disruption. A lot of ramp decks have a weakness to land destruction, due to their overreliance on Eye of Ugin or Valakut, as well as their absurdly high mana requirements. What about four Roiling Terrains and two Frost Titans in the sideboard and four Spreading Seas and Tectonic Edges main? Could that be enough of a Land Destruction plan? Maybe even Goblin Ruinblaster could get in on the action? It’s unclear how much this would cost your aggro matchups, but an Ascension player looking for a way to gain edge over Ramp could certainly do worse.

Another angle, still, might be re-raising with a superior Stage 3. What about sideboarding Selective Memory, Explosive Revelation, and some number of Emrakuls? This sideboard combo probably leads you to want Treasure Hunts in the maindeck, as well as Jace, the Mind Sculptor and the fourth Halimar Depths to help set up the top of your library. The primary combo, though, is of course fifteen damage, after you Selective Memory everything but Emrakul, then Explosive Revelations. A couple other burn spells can either set it up or finish the job. You can also use Emrakul with Explosive Revelations, set up by Depths, Jace, Preordain, or Foresee. Additionally, in a pinch, you can do some weird stuff with Selective Memory + Treasure Hunt, such as exiling everything except an Explosive Revelation (when you have Emrakul in hand), then Treasure Hunting. Then put Emrakul back into your deck with See Beyond or Jace, and you’re good to go! Convoluted? Sure, but we’re talking backup plans within the transformational sideboard!

Remember, let your imagination run wild!

Say you wanted to combat various blue control decks that beat you by countering key spells, advancing their board with planeswalkers and resilient threats, and drawing extra cards, as well as bouncing your Ascension. I wonder about the old Archive Trap kill that renowned divergent thinker Michael Flores used in his Ascension list. Would it just be too crazy to sideboard four Archive Traps, three Trapmaker’s Snares, and a Mindbreak Trap? It probably isn’t worth that kind of space, but it’s this sort of outside-the-box thinking that might inspire another solution.

Alternatively, you could load up on planeswalkers. Who’s to say you can’t use tons of Jaces, or maybe even Koths! What if you turn into a weird sort of aggro deck, with Calcite Snappers, or maybe Plated Geopede or Kiln Find?

Most people playing Ascension right now play very similar lists, but a little creative exercise, and already you have a plethora of new ideas to explore to improve the deck, to evolve it for this week!

After winning the SCG Open the previous weekend, Dan repeats with the same deck! Awesome? To be sure, but he did make some changes, such as moving Goblin Ruinblaster to the maindeck. Maybe that was right, maybe it is now, maybe it will be tomorrow, but you can be sure that after back-to-backing, Dan’s list will be copied and tested against ad nauseam. The modern R/U/G deck is very clearly a descendant of DarkestMage, Michael Jacob‘s, block deck that Brad Nelson won the Magic Online Block Championships with, spawning the block deck that Paulo Vitor won Pro Tour San Juan with.

This deck has pedigree and is continuing to put up the numbers. How can we improve it? A similar experiment to the above could work, most likely focused on beating Valakut and Eldrazi Green. Alternatively, we may ask ourselves what are ten cards we might want to try in this deck? What if we ask ourselves, what are ten cards that are good against this deck? One of the most fun things is writing a list of sixty cards that aren’t in this deck, but could be. I know, that seems like a lot, but you’d be amazed at what you can imagine once you let go of needing to only think about “good ideas.”

The key is challenging yourself to find many answers, instead of just one. This is that vital component to creativity we were talking about, divergent thinking. Another exercise you may want to try to strengthen your creativity is to write a list of fifteen basic questions such as:

1) What is your name?

2) What are you doing tomorrow?

3) What do you do for fun?

Then answer all fifteen questions using only Magic card names! It’s tempting to try to imagine the card names before you write them, but don’t! If you already know the card name answer before you write the question, pick a different question. Any simple basic questions will do.

Josh is using Gerry Thompson‘s Mimic Vat deck that draws heavily on Nassif’s U/B Control, though differing quite a bit on a few key decision points. Currently, it looks and feels like U/B is one of the absolute best decks in the format. What can we do to expand it? Already we’ve seen such debates play out as Trinket Mage vs. Sea Gate Oracle, Abyssal Persecutor vs. more permission and removal, Mimic Vat vs. Jace Beleren. As an experiment, write four reasons why each side of each of those debates is better.

The experiments from the above lists can be applied here, as well, of course, but there are unbounded numbers of other possibilities. For instance, make a list of at least five more open-ended questions that require you to come up with at least ten answers each. You don’t actually have to complete those fifty answers, by any means. Just coming up with the five categories is the exercise!

Another experiment to try: write a note (maybe share it on Facebook!) that details your experiences at the last tournament you played in. Write about the events leading up to the tournament, what you played, a brief recap of what you faced each round, and the adventures after. Use complete sentences! Now, here’s the kicker… you


the words “I,” “Me,” “My,” or “Mine,” or any other such word identifying yourself, such as “We,” “Our,” or “Us!”

Keep it smooth, make it interesting; the goal is that the reader ought not to be able to notice that anything strange is afoot. Why did I consider my
article without the letter “e,” to be more successful than my article,
Reverse Read Theory For Everyone,

that could be read forward or backward? Simple, while many appreciated the Reverse Read article, there was no mistaking that it wouldn’t hold up under a microscope as a good article to anyone that wasn’t giving it extra credit for being clever. It may have had many similarities to an “article,” but it couldn’t quite stand on its own without the cleverness of the gimmick.

PC: The article does not contain the letter “e.”

PV: Oh, lol, it’s pretty well done then since I hadn’t even noticed.

A Void, but Nothing Missing

was actually far more successful, as Paulo Vitor paid me one of most powerful compliments I’d ever received. He had read the article and engaged in a lengthy forum discussion about it, without even noticing anything strange. English may not be Paulo’s first language, but he’s exceptionally bright and certainly fluent. It was such a compliment, not because of some trick being pulled off, but rather, that Paulo read the article and enjoyed it on its own merits. It was smooth enough that he would’ve let everything that was said stand on its own (as opposed to the Reverse Read, which contained many sentences and ideas that would never get a pass without the gimmick).

I had a similar encounter with Brian Kowal, who thought the strangest part of the article was that I referred to Brian Kibler as the “BK that is famous for Rith, not Brian Kowal.” Such smoothness of execution ought to be the target for these creativity experiments, including the “tournament report,” with no I/Me/My/Mine/We/Our/Us. Doing so will force your mind outward, setting aside the preoccupations and obsessions of your own life. I wonder whose tournament report in this style I’d want to read most, out of Kowal and Kibler, as both would be interesting.

Could it be? Is U/W making a comeback? Worse still, does it involve zero Preordains?

Our next experiment is to make a list of ten different combinations of cards that could be cut or changed to make room for the four Preordains we are to add!

“Now wait a minute,” you may be saying, “Doesn’t this give weight to the idea of building control without Preordain?” Others of you may not be Shaheen Soorani. Still, fair is fair.

Preordain Camp #1024:

Guillaume Wafo-Tapa:

Sure I’ve been playing Standard. Of course I start every blue control list with four Preordains. I just didn’t realize how sick it was at the time M11 came out. Take care.

Brian Kibler:

You’re bonkers. (Re: Author not playing Preordain)

Michael Flores:

Have you read Preordain? Because if you haven’t read it, I could totally see your position, bro!

Gerry Thompson:

If you’re not god-awful, consistency is better than power. Ponder is NOT PreordainPreordain is like a sicko split card. Drawing a removal spell isn’t always good. Drawing a land isn’t always good. Drawing a finisher isn’t always good. Drawing Preordain is always good. Cut one of each of those for Preordains. The end.

Gerard Fabiano:

What’s going on man? Giggity Gfabs can talk some sense into you…

Michael Jacob:

Any deck with at least three Islands should be running four Preordains. They are as big a reason to be playing blue as Brainstorm is in other formats, and it shouldn’t take long for people to figure this out.

Sam Black:

Preordain is just an outstanding card.

Tom Martell:

…The burden of proof is on not playing them (i.e. default is playing them).

Kyle Boggemes:

I start building my decks around [Preordain] now. It makes my decks far more consistent, and I want to draw it early and late game.

Our camp also confirmed includes
Luis Scott-Vargas, Gabriel Nassif, Josh Utter-Leyton, Justin Bieber, Brian Kowal,

Brad Nelson.

Pro-Death/Hate/Pain/Fear Camp

Shaheen Soorani

Kyle Sanchez

Shaheen’s Dentist

Of course,
life is beautiful,

and I have hope that Kyle will come over to the good guys. What does this have to do with creativity?

Because, all jokes aside, as sure as I am that Preordain is right, it would be very close-minded of me to say that it
could not

be right to cut Preordain. Isn’t the appeal to authority above the exact sort of trend and feedback stuff that we were warned off above? Well, that’s just it. We weren’t “warned” about it, because it isn’t bad; it just impedes creativity.

Can you list fifteen vehicles that you could take to the next Magic tournament you go to, besides cars and planes? Sure! Now, guess what is the best? That is right; it is the

creative of the answers. Why? Because this happens to be a question where we make the decision to conform, without even considering taking a bicycle, a scooter, a Segway, or a Pogo-Ball, since we’re so sure that the default is the best, we opt not to spend the time exploring the creative options. You only have so much time in the day, so having good systems for determining on what to focus your creative energy is of great value.

That said, someone had to be the guy to explore other ways to get to places besides bicycles, such as
putting wings on them

in the first place. Is it possible that Shaheen and Sanchez are inventing the airplane? I have a feeling they’re just wrong brothers driving scooters cross-country. I love those two, to be sure, so more power to them. Besides, if Sanchez has the chips, I know he’s happy! For serious, though, his deck may be good, but I’d bet dollars to doughnuts it’s better with Preordains.

Creativity exercise: Select a random card from your collection, and display it in front of you while you type/write. Make a list of thirty words that relate to or are about the artwork on that card. Yes, the artwork. Now, write a crazy story that uses all thirty of those words that can be about anything you want,

that card.

Now we’re really getting down to it, aren’t we? This list was designed by MichaelJ using a system that’s similar to his previous Critical Mass decks in more ways than just colors, as it’s designed to be the most, best cards, which is actually the system he used when arming Andre Coimbra with Naya Lightsaber last year. Was Naya Lightsaber the best deck at any point? Highly debatable; however, it was certainly at least a decent deck, and this sort of thinking often produces surprisingly valuable discoveries.

Creativity exercise: List ten ways the above deck is similar to the Standard Critical Mass deck listed below.

Now list ten ways that they’re different. For reference, that Critical Mass deck is based on its block counterpart:

Just as Flores expanded on the ideas of his Block deck in the Standard format that followed, so too do we see the same thing today, with DarkestMage’s R/U/G deck.

Let’s jump back, however, to the Turbo Land deck, from above. What are ten cards that we might want to try in it? When I first saw Flores’ list, it contained Rampaging Baloths instead of Frost Titan. While many ridiculed his deck (mostly his forums…), I approached the deck with an open mind and just tried to imagine possible worlds where one was already doing all this stuff. What could make it better? Instead of worrying about whether Turbo Land was the perfect deck for the current format, I restricted myself to imagining that
we have

to play it, and even more, that it might be decent.

One classic way to use divergent thinking with deckbuilding is to imagine what the deck looks like without a pocket of four cards (or however many there are of each). What are three cards you could play instead? Do this for every card in the deck, and you’re looking at a lot of possibilities. Obviously, we develop shortcuts to save time (such as establishing the order of best mana fixers, best burn, best permission, whatever), though even these tend to stifle creativity a bit. They are a
necessary evil,


When I looked at Flores’ list, I identified which cards seemed most cut-able. Every card is cut-able, depending, so instead of a pass-fail, type of thing, it’s more of a loose ordering so as to focus more time on the most obviously cut-able cards, which in this case looked to me to be the Baloths, just on intrinsic power. I considered a variety of different solutions, such as Avenger of Zendikar, Pelakka Wurm, Wurmcoil Engine, Eldrazi, Terastodon, and more. However, it was Frost Titan that really resonated with me. Was this just propagating the Frost Titan fad? Well, actually, I liked the idea of the Tectonic Edge aspect of Mike’s deck and wondered if we couldn’t possibly play that up a little.

By imagining what it would take to make you cut each card (in that case, a six-drop that has an ability that’s more relevant when you aren’t already winning), you can often realize improvements you wouldn’t have even thought of but wonder how you could’ve gone without. For instance, when I saw this latest list, I again imagined cutting each card, and it was Forest that I thought was most cut-able (as two could become Verdant Catacombs, right off the top, if you ask me).

Creativity exercise: Play word association! This is best with at least one other person, but you can do it by yourself; you just need to focus. Say a Magic card name, then the other person says a Magic card name that comes to mind when they hear that name. Go back and forth, and if you ever name a card that has already been named, you have to come up with another one! This improves your free association of ideas, a boon for creative endeavors.

I had an interesting encounter with creative thinking when I was gunslinging the Arkansas Scars Prerelease at Game Zone Alpha. My flight out of Arkansas to Tennessee, where I would connect to Milwaukee was Stoic Rebuttaled. To make matters worse, there were only two flights a day making that trip, and the other had already left. They told me to come back the next day!

I called Brian, the storeowner, who drove back to the airport to pick me up, and we quickly began to brainstorm possible solutions. He’s an outside-the-box thinker himself and suggested a train, a bus, another airline, staying in a hotel and working, going out on the town, and even that if it was just a flight to Tennessee I was missing, what if he drove me? Yes, it would be a three-hour drive, but I could just barely make the connection if we left now!

I was certainly blown away by his kindness and hospitality, though I did end up electing to do the work in a hotel that I would’ve done back at home. Nevertheless, creativity doesn’t mean being a slave to the creative idea, either. Sometimes the mundane and boring idea (stay in a hotel and work) actually is the best.

Alright, I gotta wrap it up. Before I go, I’d like to share something I was introduced to when discussing this subject with my gf, a schoolteacher named Amanda. She put me onto an
awesome video

that I highly, highly recommend if you’re interested in more on Sir Ken Robinson or creativity in general. It’s both fun and extremely interesting. Thanks again for joining me. I’ll leave you with one last creativity exercise. Get a blank notebook, and write a different metaphor every day that describes something you’re thinking, feeling, or experiencing, on separate pages, with only the date. This will cost you so little in time, but as the notebook fills up, you’ll surely find the routine to have paid dividends the likes of which you’d never have guessed.

Whatever you’re trying to do, be, or experience, creativity opens up elements of life that you might not have even known existed. Creativity and divergent thinking aren’t generally nurtured as we grow up; however they are highly valued in those that wield them. Everyone loves coming up with a good idea. How do you pull that good idea out of thin air? By exercising your imagination while reawakening your creative inner child!

Patrick Chapin
“The Innovator”