As more people are being asked to work from home, I’ve been wondering how social distancing affects creativity. As human beings, we are social creatures. We crave the company of others and anticipate sharing our stories and feelings with other people.
The state of CA has only been on total lockdown for a few days now and I’m already seeing how much I took social interaction for granted. I’m completely okay spending lots of time alone, but I must say I’m missing the ability to bounce ideas off of others. I can generate them on my own, but I don’t know if those ideas are any good or not. When I run ideas past friends whose opinions I trust, the truth will show on their faces, something I can’t get over the phone. Interactions will spark serendipitous ideas we could never come up with on our own.
In the book Group Genius Keith Sawyer talks about how the most creative people are both introverted and extroverted. But groups are actually better at solving complex problems than individuals alone. I also believe this and teach a creativity system that incorporates both. When you’re alone coming up with ideas, you can just power through them without stopping for anyone else. But the best creative sparks come from unique, disparate ideas and connections, and that is what you get when you have a group of people to bounce off of. You’re able to use the improv game “yes, and…” to add information to your ideas.
One thing that may come out of this is that people were forced to get out of their comfort zone. Yes, you’re being quarantined you’re in your own home, but your daily routine is disrupted. In that way you are getting out of your comfort zone and are seeing things from a different angle.
When you sit at home, the part of creativity that’s missing is serendipity. It’s hard to find serendipity sitting in your apartment. That comes from getting out into the world and seeing and experiencing new things, like the story from “The Three Princes of Serendip”.
The king wanted his sons to experience the world, so he made up an excuse to get the sons out of the castle and into the world. It was there that they went on amazing journeys and made incredible discoveries. They never would have found that serendipity from just sitting in the castle.
As much I know people need to get out of their comfort zone, and I’m sure some creativity has been forged because of having to think and work differently, I do hope we get back to social togetherness soon. After all, we are social animals.