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The Storm of Creativity

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The stages of the creative process—from “unlearning” to beginning again—seen through examples from the practice of artists, architects, poets, and others. Although each instance of creativity is singular and specific, Kyna Leski tells us, the creative process is universal. Artists, architects, poets, inventors, scientists, and others all navigate the same stages of the process in order to discover something that does not yet exist. All of us must work our way through the empty page, the blank screen, writer's block, confusion, chaos, and doubt. In this book, Leski draws from her observations and experiences as a teacher, student, maker, writer, and architect to describe the workings of the creative process. Leski sees the creative process as being like a storm; it slowly begins to gather and take form until it overtakes us—if we are willing to let it. It is dynamic, continually in motion; it starts, stops, rages and abates, ebbs and flows. In illustrations that accompany each chapter, she maps the arc of the creative process by tracing the path of water droplets traveling the stages of a storm. Leski describes unlearning, ridding ourselves of preconceptions; only when we realize what we don't know can we pose the problem that we need to solve. We gather evidence—with notebook jottings, research, the collection of objects—propelling the process. We perceive and conceive; we look ahead without knowing where we are going; we make connections. We pause, retreat, and stop, only to start again. To illustrate these stages of the process, Leski draws on examples of creative practice that range from Paul Klee to Steve Jobs, from the discovery of continental drift to the design of Antoni Gaudí's Sagrada Familia. Creativity, Leski tells us, is a path with no beginning or end; it is ongoing. This revelatory view of the creative process will be an essential guide for anyone engaged in creative discovery. The Creative Process
Problem Making
Gathering and Tracking
Perceiving and Conceiving
Seeing Ahead

216 pages, Hardcover

First published November 6, 2015

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About the author

Kyna Leski

5 books3 followers
Kyna Leski has invested her life in navigating the creative process. She has done this through her teaching as a Professor of Architecture at The Rhode Island School of Design, through her design work as a founding principal of 3six0 Architecture and her practices as an artist, aspiring/practicing actor and writer.

She has spoken about the creative process throughout the U.S. and abroad and gave a Main stage presentation at PopTech in 2009. She recently finished writing and illustrating a book, called The Storm of Creativity published by MIT Press. She is an avid rower who can be found most mornings before dawn on the Seekonk River and Narragansett Bay in Providence.

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5 stars
46 (27%)
4 stars
58 (34%)
3 stars
44 (26%)
2 stars
13 (7%)
1 star
7 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews
Profile Image for Maryna Ponomaryova.
536 reviews37 followers
June 27, 2022
Авторка порівнює креативний процес із штормом. Прослідковує поетапно всі елементи шторму і як вони співвідносяться з різними творчими процесами. Можна прочитати назви розділів і впринципі зрозуміти про що книга, просто плюс буде багато різних прикладів з різних галузей. Не знаю як це допоможе бути мені більш дисциплінованою чи креативною, бо висновок напрошується один: просто твори.
Profile Image for Griflet.
482 reviews
March 22, 2016
"Still, as the Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955) wrote in one of his many essays:

To be shipwrecked is not to drown. The poor human being feeling himself sinking into the abyss, moves his arm to keep afloat.

The peril those students feel as their preconceptions disappear is a good thing that helps them achieve an open mind. Ortega y Gasset continued,

Some discontinuity must therefore intervene, in order that man may renew his feeling of peril, the substance of his life. All his lifesaving equipment must fail, he must find nothing to cling to. Then his arms will once again move redeemingly.

Still, with all those feelings of peril, the students move forward. They begin to make, and the clearing of their mind forces them to pose important questions about their making. Since the challenge they've been given has no cues to trigger prior learning methods or preconceptions, some ask, 'Is this what you want?' What I want is not the purpose of their education. They don't get an answer. They have to move their arms and swim on their own. Returning to Ortega y Gasset:

This movement of the arms which is his reaction against his own destruction is culture - a swimming stroke... When a culture is no more than this, it fulfills its function, and the human being rises above his own abyss. But ten centuries of cultural continuity brings with it - among many advantages - the great disadvantage that man believes himself safe, loses the feeling of shipwreck, and his culture proceeds to burden itself with parasitic and lymphatic matter.

Ortega y Gasset was writing about the making of culture, but his message is universal to creative practice, which contributes to the making of culture. Culture develops authentically as a process in its making. If culture is understood as a preexisting complete condition that sits as context for design, then design is not a result of the creative process but instead is based on connoisseurship. In other words, the objective would be to meet the standards of cultural conventions or tastes."
Profile Image for Linda.
141 reviews17 followers
May 10, 2022
An extended metaphor that equates the turbulence and potentiality of creativity to a storm. The metaphor is a strong one, but feels a bit laboured by the end (what starts as a springboard turns into a crutch). She presents a linear progression of creative steps, but is clear that creativity rarely follows a regular path. Her go-to examples from Gaudi, Darwin and one of the barcode inventors, Joseph Woodland, are supplemented by various examples of student works, philosophical writings, and the poetry of T.S. Eliot. My main complaint, beside some repetition, is the referencing; she includes endnotes for her quotes but they only reference the book title and author, but not the page number, making them difficult if not impossible to follow up. Otherwise - very creative ;)
Profile Image for Brenda.
35 reviews1 follower
February 13, 2023
This book fundamentally changed how I conceive of and experience the creative process. As an artist, and someone who has thought a lot about what it means to create and how to continue to create, I find Leski’s perspective on-point and invaluable. I’d recommend this book to literally everyone. The mark of wisdom or depth of thought, for me, is an endless opening into further - maybe, probably endless - questioning. This book is full of rich, thoughtful wisdom on how to live a life of both creativity and wonder.
Profile Image for Inna En.
17 reviews
May 31, 2023
Creatively written book about creativity. The author makes the analogy of the creative process to the process of the storm being formed. The key takeaway of mine from this book was that the creativity begins from uncertainty and accepting the fact that you do not know. Therefore, one must seek to delve into the unknown.
Profile Image for c g  beck.
101 reviews12 followers
August 30, 2020
I’m fortunate enough to have been a student of Leski’s, so though I’m a little biased, I can decisively say that encountering her ways of thinking about the creative process shaped my own in an incredibly profound way.
Profile Image for Juan Fernández.
16 reviews
January 24, 2021
Kyna Leski offers a wonderfully braided collection of insights on the creative process of artists and scientists across disciplines.

This is recommended for those that are interested in cross domain thinking and the feeling of intuitively navigating creativity in any domain (dance, physics, software design, comics, music, etc.). Leski subtly addresses the creative process has phases that have fuzzy boundaries and that connect to each other in a nonlinear combinatorial way.

The core metaphor is that a f the storm system: An emergent phenomenon driven by underlying dynamics that feeds itself.

In many ways this book gives a richly detailed unintentionally perfect view on Bruce Lee’s advice to “Be like water”.

(I recommend reading this book nonlinearly by chapters as Leski encourages.)
Profile Image for Jason Comely.
Author 1 book33 followers
February 3, 2018
I myself experience creativity like a storm, and was interested to see how far she could take the metaphor. Not very far, but that's okay. I enjoyed reading this book with it's jolts of inspiration here and there.
3 reviews
February 8, 2020
A terrific book for anyone interested in creativity--the prose is spectacular, and the insights tremendous. I've gifted this book to so many people.
Profile Image for Tantunicemilbey.
98 reviews4 followers
April 11, 2021
Uzun zamandır bu kadar kötü.bir kitap okumamıştım. Yaratıcılığın ne olduğunu bilmesek yani... Bir heyecan yaratır bir teknik öğretir dedim ama bomboş...
52 reviews
March 21, 2018
Like a lot of books of this length, it's essentially a long blog post. The analogy of a storm for creativity felt a bit sticked on. Much of the book consisted of reducing famous inventions into focused narratives of synchronicity. It contained some, but not very many, insights that felt useful or meaningful to me. For most of the book, I am unsure what I got out of it, but it being different than expected was in itself a big plus. I am not sure I would recommend reading it, but I won't advice against it either.
Profile Image for Craig Dove.
Author 1 book2 followers
April 18, 2016
Interesting book, not quite what I was expecting when I picked it up (I was preparing for a workshop on spirituality and the visual arts, with an emphasis on doing) - but I'm glad to have read it. Lots of examples from a lot of different sources, including some that I'd heard before but wouldn't have thought to include (but were clearly relevant).
639 reviews12 followers
November 15, 2016
Interesting read on creativity from a design thinking perspective. Leski includes 10 chapters, each involving a particular aspect of the creative process, and she uses a metaphor of a meteorological storm for the creative process throughout the book. Overall, there are some really interesting things in this text for those studying creativity.
Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews

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