Pattern recognition is at the core of creativity.

As a warm-up exercise a few days ago, my colleagues and I made squiggles on a piece of paper. We then passed the paper around and picked a squiggle to turn into a bird. By the end of it, we had 64 unique birds! Some looked cartoonish, some were closer to a sketch of a real bird. The idea was to practice pattern recognition. Humans are great at pattern recognition, and this activity demonstrated that really well.

 Squiggle Birds: An exercise in pattern recognition.

Squiggle Birds: An exercise in pattern recognition.

It made me wonder however about how the warm-up exercise would have gone if we had been instructed to create 64 unique birds on a blank paper. I think that it would have taken us longer to imagine and create those. This activity took significantly less time - about 20 seconds per bird! Creativity then, in my mind, is not an act of creating something out of nothing, but identifying patterns to then stimulate our imagination.

Pattern recognition is at the core of creativity.

As children, we have all sat in the grass staring at the clouds and finding animals, or spent time in the bathroom, for instance, finding faces, shapes, and objects in the textures and patterns in the tiles. I remember doodling the shapes I saw into aliens and creating stories around them when I was a teenager. It was my prized compilation of odd creatures. As time passed, I forgot about this simple act that put me in a 'flow' state. Maybe, making it a routine exercise will boost my creativity and imagination!

What do you think? How do you exercise your creative muscle?