creative sparks and rastrophiliopustrocity


“You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood.

What mood is that?

Last-minute panic. “

Bill Watterson


Occasionally, you learn a new word which is worth learning. Rastrophiliopustrocity:

 a barrage of creative random thoughts, images, and ideas that spontaneously overwhelms the brain, which then becomes immediately exercised when other parts of your brain engage within spacious awareness from an empty point.


Oh my. What a thought.

Barrage of creative random thoughts engaging from an empty point.


I believe a creative spark needs some fodder. It doesn’t arise from nothing because, well, nothing begets nothing. There has to be something from which a spark can occur. Or as i quoted in my ‘rabbits and ideas post’ … “… not even the best magician in the world can produce a rabbit out of a hat if there is not already a rabbit in the hat.”


I have yet to see a process that ensures great creative. Yeah. I just said that. Having been in the creation of creative output business for years I have seen far too many creative generating companies <tangible work as well as ideas> that revolve around some mystical ‘process’ for creative output. These processes get put up in beautiful charts outlining step by step, in nice tidy steps, how past great ideas have been consistently generated. Take note that the mystical processes are most often endorsed by the pragmatic boring logical anal people randomly strewn throughout these creative organizations <who want to define creativity so that in some way they can appear to control the creativity and output>. They are typically endorsed <and embraced> by people who want to manage their creative output like manufacturing plants.

Drives me nuts.

Here is a creative business truth. A rigid process is counterproductive to the creative process.

It is counter to the sometimes haphazardness, oft untidiness, of true creative thinking and will stymie if not stifle the best thinking. In addition, a rigid process often eliminates what we all know happens all the time <which is counterintuitively not a bad thing> that, uh oh, we often revise an original strategy document because of a creative idea.

Yeah. Uh oh.

This is the insidious uncomfortable ‘revising strategy once you have seen output’ discussion. I have had this debate so many times I think I could write a book <or I guess I could watch a slo-motion video of my head exploding>. What happens when a strategy changes in this way is it makes people think that creative thinking drives strategy. What also happens is that I laugh, throw something sharp, if I don’t have anything heavy, and say:

“No, it’s just like a boomerang. You throw the boomerang out (the original strategy/insight) and it goes out and there is creativity as it passes through the mix of sun and clouds but it ends up coming back to the same place. but the trip thru the clouds and fresh air and rain can enhance the original strategy. “

I also point out that means that boomerangs that aren’t properly thrown go astray. This means that boomerangs that end up in some tree means that idea isn’t ‘the one.’


Bad metaphor but anybody who believes a well written strategy or insight is perfect and shouldn’t change is nuts. It is simply well written. And by being well written it inspires, it creates the ‘spark’, the overall creative thinking which ultimately generates the end ideas. In fact, a well written brief – or strategic idea/lily pad – should offer just a bit of gravity for rastrophiliopustrocity to occur.  Yeah. A great thinking process enhances the likelihood you can uncover a great insight (no more, no less). Not an “actionable insight” or some “big idea insight,” or even the heinous ‘bid idea’, just some great insight or thought that inspires thinking. Please note I said “enhances the likelihood” not guarantees (people who sell process rarely point that out). A process, or even an insight, doesn’t generate the output it simply provides input that enables output. Or maybe it is inspires …  rastrophiliopustrocity.


Now that I have espoused on the limitations of process, let me suggest a process benefit which all creative generating companies want, need, and rarely get.



What the fuck does that have to do with generating creativity? or a creative spark?


It doesn’t.


A good process provides an opportunity to solidify an aligned objective and manage expectations.

That alone can make a process valuable. Yeah. Do not underestimate the importance of alignment with regard to creative thinking and ideas. What I mean by that is more good, and great, creative thinking dies within presentation and articulation and ‘agreement’ than anywhere else. Far too often creative sparks get smothered in presentation and discussion and go off to die.

So alignment and input actually paves the way for actually DOING great creative thinking. All this means is that process is EXACTLY like research. It is to inform not to make decisions and not to create.


With regard to process, I have seen a trend in the creative creation businesses that with timelines getting tighter and people wanting things faster that a lot of businesses use an initial client/agency immersion session as a creative briefing session.

Yeah. They are seeking shortcuts to the end creative output.

What they do is include all creative creators and non-creative creators in one room along with some moderator who typically guides the discussion with strategy or creative thinking in mind.

Personally, I think its nuts (although I will offer a non-nuts version of this in a bit).

You cannot, and will not, arrive at a ‘spark’ or an ‘insight’ in an initial immersion session. You can certainly ask divergent questions, do deep dive curiosity creating questioning and even maybe circle some interesting spaces. But it ain’t happening here.

To be clear.

Even with all the good potential I just cited this is high risk and high return territory.

Depends on how good your moderator is. How good your team is. How good the questions are and whether the right people are in the room.  As well as a confluence of factors <because as noted earlier … what works one time may not work another time>.


And another thing. It also depends on whether the listeners hear everything that they are supposed to hear <and everyone hears the same thing>. Another thing <part 2> it depends on whether you have people in place who can quickly assimilate information and have good, if not great, ability to come up with smart, insightful good initial ideas.

And to be clear.

While many people in the creative business flippantly say that ‘often the initial idea and thinking is the best’ more often than not; it is not.

Anyway, the idea I just shit on is more often is simply a good starting place.

Ok. Here is the non-nuts version.

After some immersion and discovery and some information download, a creative agency puts a small group of ‘thinking’ people in a room and think. Pose possibilities, poke and prod, think out loud and craft some different ideas.  Sure. In these short cut type meetings, I have seen the best of the best in action and even then, arriving at a clear non debatable insight, or whatever you are aiming for, is not a 100% guarantee. More often you end up circling the answer, but struggle to pin it down because, of course, doing so means making choices. And, while earlier choices in the session are easy, toward the end of the meeting session when you are seeking a conclusion … the choices are difficult.

But the reason this isn’t nuts, is because it often provides the ‘gravity thought’ or what I often call ‘the lily pad of a thought.” Its kind of like a running start. The smart group of people sift through the chaff and isolate some potential wheat. I will suggest that this type of meeting, if you have the right people, definitely speeds up the spark process and creative process.


Process provides input, but should never be construed as the ways & means to creative spark.


Creative spark is really simply divergent thinking.

  • Thinking where you seek more verbs than nouns.
  • Thinking when you seek to stand for something instead of everything … or nothing.
  • Thinking when your mind just says … well … fuck it.
  • Thinking that the conventional is simply atrophy.

“Honestly, you just take a deep breath and say fuck it.”

Johnny Knoxville

Real creative sparks, the ones that matter, are really a combination of a “fuck it” <ignore conventional thinking and conventional ‘wants’> and “where did that fucking idea come from” type moments.

Oh. And maybe a little bit of some personal ‘fuck its.’ What I mean by that is an individual decision to leave the conventional and take a chance.

I say this because while I am not a creative artist or writer per se I have encountered creative sparks.

They can be overwhelming.

In fact I can honestly say that they are more often overwhelming than they are any blinding flash of insight or thought. It comes down to weaving your way through the barrage of thought that seemingly crashes out from this black void in which you have seen nothing, or certainly nothing clearly, that the creative idea arises. Uhm … rastrophiliopustrocity in other words.


There will always be a need, a time & a place, for creative thinking. Therefore, we will always be seeking to uncover how to generate a ‘creative spark’ on demand. We will always seek some magical process that ‘creates’ sparks and ultimately creative.

The difficulty is that creative sparks come from that black void called ‘the creative thinking space.’

There is no formula for a creative process or creative thinking. What works for one person doesn’t for another. And maddeningly what works at one time will not work in another time. Therefore, creative sparks are elusive to rhyme or reason. No. They defy rhyme or reason. And that is maddening to everyone, but mostly to accountant types, manufacturing types and ‘management measurement gwonks.’ And the ‘play-safers.’

All I can say is rastrophiliopustrocity. Ponder.

Written by Bruce