You’ve heard it many times before: “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” This adage is attributed to Einstein, but who knows who really said it…(really, no one knows. It’s probably not even a real quote). Regardless, this statement that many like to cite slapdashedly in presentations and blog posts like this one makes two false assumptions about creativity: to be creative you must be intelligent, and the creative process is fun. If you’ve ever been tasked with producing a creative piece of work on a short deadline, you know the creative process can be anything but fun.
What does it actually mean to be creative? According to the Oxford Research Encylopedia on Psychology:
“The creative process is thought to involve the capacity to shift between divergent and convergent modes of thought in response to task demands. Divergent thought is conventionally characterized as the kind of thinking needed for open-ended tasks, and it is measured by the ability to generate multiple solutions, while convergent thought is commonly characterized as the kind of thinking needed for tasks in which there is only one correct solution.”
Creativity does involve putting your brain to work, but it’s more problem-solving than aimless imagining. Creativity can, therefore, be learned. According to Oxford, creativity has two main criteria that scholars widely agree on: originality and appropriateness. Some other scholars include on that list surprise and quality.
So we’ve compiled this list of podcasts not based on their capacity to make you think artistically, but rather on their capacity to make you think originally, to start connecting dots, to generate solutions that are appropriate, high-quality, and surprising.
Here are five podcasts to inspire creative thinking:
If you work in business, you’ve probably already heard of this podcast. But you may have listened to it to study the history of the world’s biggest companies and brush up on your trivia facts. But now, revisit the episodes and pay special attention to the methods the expert guests—“innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists”—used to solve problems in their industries. How did they identify the problems? How do they come up with solutions? How many tries did it take, and what did they learn? Understanding strategic thinking can help you break through creative inertia in any application—not just business.
It’s one of many philosophy-related podcasts that are worth the listen, but Philosophize This! is probably my favorite. The episodes take you through a history of philosophic thought, working through major concepts and theories and challenging listeners to question their mindsets. From Democritus to Buddha to Foucault, each episode offers deep insight into the ponderings of the world’s most influential thinkers. Digging into philosophic inquiry even if just five minutes a day or 30-minutes a week will make you look at your problems differently and approach solution-building with more originality than ever.
Creative thinking requires a clear mind. A meditation podcast is great for helping you carve out time to clear your head before putting pen to paper. Researchers at Harvard found that “mindfulness mediation works to enhance creativity and innovation, and 10 to 12 minutes of it are enough to boost creativity.” Meditation Minis podcast offers just that, with weekly episodes leading you in guided mediations for 12 minutes or less — perfect for in-between meetings or lunch.
A classic podcast that is loved by curious minds of all ages, SYSK isn’t commonly found on lists of creativity-provoking podcasts. But—hear me out—the more dots you have, the easier it might be to connect them. Stuff You Should Know covers just about every topic worth knowing, each hour-long episode diving into the history or application of topics such as the Navajo Code Talkers, how black holes work, or how corporate cartels are monopolizing the economy. It’s totally random and totally fun. Not only will knowing more things help you bring different perspectives into your creative process, but it’ll also make you more interesting at dinner parties (if those ever become a thing again).
Lastly, this one is more on the nose when it comes to creative inspiration, but it is incredibly helpful and thought-provoking for those who work in creative industries. Host Mark McGuinness, poet and “creative coach,” interviews an array of creative professionals across industries, exploring their challenges and creative solutions, and typically ends the episode with a creative prompt for listeners. Just as with How I Built This, this podcast offers food for thought as you set about your own tasks and will aid in your own development of original thought.
Still, stumped by your creative writing project? Get in touch with us — WriteVest can help!
Credits: Alexis Anthony, writer; Unsplash, image