This summer I had a goal. I wanted to get better at invention.
The reason for this was simple: while I think I am a relatively creative person and at least competent in intellect, I feel I am poor at invention, or at the very least I could be far better. As a poet and a teacher, invention and creativity are important to me. As an individual, creativity is important to me. And I wanted to be a better creator and so I thought I needed to read some books and learn to better improve it and continue that work in my actual work.
Another reason I wanted to do this was because when I am solving a problem, I usually throw out things I don’t need to solve the problem. I may ignore these things and maybe revisit them later, or discard them entirely. Considering everything I already knew about invention, I felt that was a bad habit I needed to break and I wanted to learn strategies for how. In truth, doing this has been the hardest part. I even told a friend who is an engineer and knows exactly what I am talking about that doing this might be “an impossible task.” I don’t know. Maybe and maybe not.
What I learned was that maybe I am better than invention in some ways than I think. For one, it just takes me longer to come up with things. For example, in class I don’t come up with my best ideas; instead, I come up with them after the fact and bring them with me for the next class or they end up in my homework. I need to realize that this is my typical MO and it isn’t a bad thing. It just means sitting in class can be a frustrating process as everyone else (or at least most others) say really smart, insightful things.
Another thing I learned is that i need to do things that I may not necessarily good at, which is always hard for me to do because at heart I am a competitor. I also learned that I need to add unrelated elements to things I already do. For example, I write poetry, but I don’t typically write sonnets. This means I should write a sonnet, right? Probably.
I also realized i need to take better notes. I don’t always take good notes of the things around me. Like what someone said at that dinner party (though I did sit down and write down a few things this morning after last night). Or like when I am going to school and I see something that interests me. I may remember these things for a time, but I need to take larger and better notice of them. And I need to listen a bit better because sometimes if I feel something isn’t important to me (I know, I sound like such a snot here), I tend to not pay too much attention or even say something not so nice. While I think I am polite listener, I need to let go of my biases a little more. I think we could all learn something from that.