Isaac Asimov on Creativity

Isaac Asimov Asks, “How Do People Get New Ideas?”

It’s about making mental connections:

Obviously, then, what is needed is not only people with a good background in a particular field, but also people capable of making a connection between item 1 and item 2 which might not ordinarily seem connected.


Once you have the people you want, the next question is: Do you want to bring them together so that they may discuss the problem mutually, or should you inform each of the problem and allow them to work in isolation?

My feeling is that as far as creativity is concerned, isolation is required. The creative person is, in any case, continually working at it. His mind is shuffling his information at all times, even when he is not conscious of it. (The famous example of Kekule working out the structure of benzene in his sleep is well-known.)

The presence of others can only inhibit this process, since creation is embarrassing. For every new good idea you have, there are a hundred, ten thousand foolish ones, which you naturally do not care to display.

I agree more with the book “Managing Oneself” by Peter Drucker. People learn differently. Some learn best by writing down their thoughts, solving a problem by writing it down, some learn by speaking to others(that’s me. The other person doesn’t even need to respond, just need an audience), some by listening to others speak on some random topic. Same applies to new ideas.


Edit: There is also a great post on SGM about solving problems while you rest. Here are my notes for it:
"Divide your home into sections; work, sleep, reading, eating and meditating.

Two ways for problem solving while resting;

  • State what you need your brain to give you before these. Clear command.
  1. Power Napping
  • No more than 30 min. Focus on the problem, expect the answer.
  1. Prospective Meditation
  • Shut off all thought, focus on feeling body.
  • Observe your thoughts without getting drawn into them. Meta-cognition.
  • Wait and observe the internal dialogue for interesting thoughts. Wait for a good idea to come along.

Immediately write down these solutions and ideas to not forget them. "

Interesting post…

There’s a blog post with some research about power naps. When I’m really tired, I aim for 45 minutes – otherwise 10, 20, or 30, depending on how much time I have. I get sluggish if I nap too long, but 45 minutes seems okay for me.

Lately, it has been more difficult for me to fall asleep. I tried to sleep today, but couldn’t stop thinking. Sometimes there is too much noise. A neighbor likes to leafblow the yard nearly every single day. :tired:

I try not to consider failed naps to be wasted time because of this wakeful resting study.

I used to have huge problems with falling asleep, same as you; couldn’t stop thinking. For the past 2 years or so, haven’t had them though. Ever since I read the ‘4 hour body’, and saw the ‘last-resort’ sleep position, a half crawl (left leg and arm straight, relaxed, right arm over head right leg perpendicular at hip and knee, laying on stomach), I haven’t been able to sleep in any other position. I’ve gotten so used to it, any other position doesn’t work. Even doing a mirror of the position doesn’t work.

Then, I added some meditative techniques to it, ie: feeling each of your muscles relax in order, talking to your muscles, counting backwards from 100 with each breath, walking down a staircase/climbing down a rope, and those help me fall asleep <10 minutes. That’s the thing about meditation, they say don’t do it while laying in bed because you’ll fall asleep. For me, it’s actually very effective for inducing sleep. (I also meditate at other times).

I’ve been trying power naps, they do seem effective if I’m ever tired during the day, reduce sleepiness enough. Have seen studies showing sleeping after studying increases recall of information.


It recommends sleeping on the stomach? I’ve read that that is hard on the neck and back, but I’m not sure.

I’ll try the meditation technique next time I go for a nap. Usually what happens is that some noise stops right in the middle of falling asleep, and then my thoughts jump back in.

Apparently the best way to sleep is on your side, in the fetal position. Never could get used to it though. As I’m also a big on body language, it feels like a very weak position. Perhaps that’s what one wants when sleeping though.

Noises don’t bring me all the way back, they just bring me back a little bit. Unless I move.