Arbitrary Sorting Mechanism
Creativity literally means making something out of nothing. But in many cases, it means making something out of something. Organizing raw materials into different wholes. Helping ideas bounce of other ideas, going from one until the other, until they hit an exciting new nerve. It’s not as labor intensive as creating something out of whole cloth, but it requires a certain volume of inventory to be possible.
ARBITRARY SORTING MECHANISM — An organizing principle, free of judgment and expectation, that allows ideas to find each other
How might you change the way you approach the raw materials of your creative process? Alphabetically is one way, which allows an arbitrary sorting mechanism for your ideas. This organizing principle allows you to see patterns in your inspiration. For example, if you notice a collection of eight ideas that start with the same word or phrase, maybe you can use that as inspiration for a larger piece. Let the information do some of the heavy lifting for you and reveal what wants to be written.
One of my favorite creative rituals is walking the factory floor. It’s an established parcel of structured curiosity, whereby I casually and thoughtfully peruse every idea I’ve recently accumulated. The secret is, when I start to see the same ideas, over and over, and I can feel my mind starting to go numb, I change the visual landscape. I introduce an arbitrary sorting mechanism into the process. And what’s fascinating is, simply shuffling the order of the files in my browser, sorting them by a different category, i.e., date created, date modified or alphabetically, makes all the difference in the world. By completely rearranging the order of the inventory, I start to notice new patterns and happy accidents and disparate combinations that weren’t available to me before. And before I know, I’ve created something out of something.
Thanks to these sorting mechanisms, each time you walk the factory floor, you open the various folders of ideas and just let the ideas wash over you as the serendipitous construction and collection of words massage your brain. Are you forcing organization on something that would be better as a random assortment?
Sift through massive piles of ideas quickly
Make it easier to notice useful patterns in your work
Notice disparate combinations and connections that weren’t available before
Gain greater perspective on your projects so you can identify opportunities for monetization