Think Make, not Think Meet

"picture of the book impro"

Think Make, acting instead of talking, isn’t new and isn’t limited to design.  Last night, I read this in Keith Johnstone’s Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre:

“My bias against discussion is something I’ve learned to see as very English.  I’ve known political theatre groups in Europe which would readily cancel a rehearsal, but never a discussion.  My feeling is that the best argument may be a testimony to the skill of the presenter, rather than to the excellence of the solution advocated.  Also the bulk of discussion time is visibly taken up with the transactions of status which have nothing to do with the problem to be solved.  My attitude is like Edison’s, who found a solvent for rubber by putting bits of rubber in every solution he could think of, and beat all those scientists who were approaching the problem theoretically.”

Think. Make. Go.

Also, while reading Impro, I found myself asking: By studying a subject’s rules, guidelines, and best practices, do we become less creative?  For instance, in design, usability guidelines may help a product be used, but does it also prevent leaps in innovation and creative interfaces?  Johnstone talking about becoming a theatre director:

“Obviously, I felt I ought to study my craft, but the more I understood how things ought to be done, the more boring my productions were.  Then as now, when I’m inspired, everything is fine, but when I try to get things right it’s a disaster.  In a way I was successful – I ended up as the Associate Director of the Theatre – but once again my talent had left me.

When I considered the difference between myself, and other people, I thought of myself as a late developer.  Most people lost their talent at puberty.  I lost mine in my early twenties.  I began to think of children not as immature adults, but of adults as atrophied children.”

What do you think?  Does this only apply to creativity, not craft?  Or art, not design?


I wonder if the difference between “when I’m inspired” and “when I try to get things right” has something to do with using the larger, older, more powerful pattern-matching part of the brain versus using the smaller, newer, more limited language & theory part of the brain. (Which sounds similar to the explanation behind the Perils of Introspection:

So when we think about theory and “getting things right,” are we inherently limiting our creative ability? Should we then spend more time practicing and absorbing and less time learning theory and thinking critically?

Or is the best of all worlds to learn and understand theory, but then be careful to not explicitly think about it during the creative process?

Curious what @jkolko thinks about this.

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