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10.1. Three Sources of Blocks


How To Invent (Almost) Anything > 10. Getting Past the Blocks > 10.1. Three Sources of Blocks

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Blocks can come from a number of places, although these may be reduced to three common sources.

First and very commonly, blocks come from other people, which is perhaps why many inventors prefer to work alone. There is nothing more damaging to a fledgling idea that having the boot put in by a well-meaning, let alone a jealous, critic. In fact we do not even need the critic to say anything: the thought that someone just might criticise our idea is enough to dissuade many of us from proposing ideas in public, even with close friends and family. The threat of rejection or loss of social position is a severe punishment we would rather avoid.

Secondly, the environment can contain blocks. Being creative in a cramped room which is cold and damp or hot and stuffy is not as easy as dreaming up ideas in a comfortable and familiar environment. We also associate types of thinking with different places, for example many people take off their creative hat the moment they walk through the doorway of their workplace, where the formal clothes and interactions with other people all confirm that this is a place of logical action, rather than off-the-wall thinking.

Finally, we create our own blocks, such as a mental model we might have of ourselves that tells us we are unable to invent anything of value. In fact, all blocks fall into this category, as although people and places might provide the stimuli for blocking, it is the meaning that we place upon these that leads us to feel uncreative.

Fig. 10.1 Three sources of blocks

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