imagine writing a book and twenty five years later it's still as good as ever and selling! well that's the case with roger von oech's whack on the side of the head. the 25th anniversary edition is about to be released (this week i think) revised and updated. i have a real soft spot for this book. i read it at a time when i was just getting going in youth work and had relied on a friend's creative ideas. but he was due to move on so we couldn't rely on him and had to get our creative juices flowing. whack provided the inspiration, so much so that we got known for our creative approach. and i have loved creative thinking ever since. i have actually given awaay or mislaid or leant my first copy so was really pleased to get hold of it again.
it's an easy book to read - oech outlines 10 mental locks to creativity and illustrates with lots of stories, puzzles and illustrations how each of those locks can be unlocked. the locks are things such as 'play is frivolous' or 'the right answer' or 'that's not logical', things that we have in the back of our minds that stop us being creative. we all think in patterns, and make assumptions that mean we see and think in particular tracks. we need a whack to knock us out of that particular groove.
creativity and imagination are wonderful things. and they are particularly important when in a season where we have got in a rut, or stuck and need to change. that's why i think that the current challenge the church faces of change in a postmodern culture is one which needs plenty of creative thinking encouraged. church planters, leaders, missionaries and so on should get training in creativity and improvisation. i got to know roger via his blog a couple of years back and we have exchanged to and fro since. i was interviewed on his blog in dec 2006 and in answer to the question what i do, my answer was that my job is to give the church a whack on the side of the head! i follow his blog in my reader - he often comes up with gems. i liked his thoughts recently on when you get ideas i could relate to the feedback that pressure/necessity is one way people get creative (i know a deadline focuses my mind) but equally so is playing around. so as roger puts it necessity may be the mother of invention but play is certainly the father.
i also have the creative whack pack - a series of cards with creative strategies. i have used them on my own sometimes when i'm in an ideas phase. and i have used them with groups. they are also really worth getting.
the last lock in the book is 'i'm not creative' - this is perhaps the most subtle but powerful. so many people tell themselves that they are not a creative person, or don't have that gift - but it's precisely beieving that that makes it a self fulfilling prophecy. if you think you are creative you will be. you'd better believe it...