Monday, April 8, 2013

Reading, thinking, writing

I love dandelions when they've gone to seed
I spend most of my time doing one of three things - reading, thinking or writing. All are activities done alone. I hope the end result will be something creative and I’ve read that solitude is necessary for creativity.

Right now I’m reading Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I bought the book last week when I found out my local book shop didn’t have this one in yet (a book I’m very much looking forward to).

I’m about half-way through Quiet, which means I’ll be done in a couple of days. I’m finding the book fascinating, especially since I’m an introvert. I’ve always known I’m an introvert and I’ve always counted that as one of my strengths, even when others have not.

Quiet is about the value of introverts in our extrovert-centric society, especially around creative work. It is clear from research that brilliant ideas often come from people who mostly work alone, where group work typically results in ideas that came from the one that spoke the loudest - not necessarily the smartest.

She writes about how brainstorming in theory produces better ideas that individuals working alone - an idea that many team-building sessions glom on to. However, the actual research shows the opposite is true. When brainstorming and working in solitude are subjected to an actual test, more and better ideas are generated when working alone. Perhaps, I’ll point that out next time I’m forced into a brainstorming session (more likely, I’ll simply endure it).

In another interesting study she found, violin players were compared who all spent the same amount of time practicing. The best musicians were the ones that spent the most time working alone in ‘deliberate practice’ - which translates to working specifically on a nuance or skill where the musician struggles. The idea of a ‘deliberate practice’ intrigues me.

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the book

As a tangent, the author describes herself this way: “I’m prone to wild flights of self-doubt, but I also have a deep well of courage in my own convictions. I feel horribly uncomfortable on my first day in a foreign city, but I love to travel. I was shy as a child, but have outgrown the worst of it.” - a description that would also apply well to me.

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