Creativity: Popcorn Popper vs. Slow Cooker?

Ever been on a committee that had to come up with ideas for the next best thing?

It could be great fun, depending on what has to be made:

–a Super Bowl commercial

–a plot twist for a TV show

–a name for a new doodad

–a catchy slogan or jingle for a new brand

–a new method for motivating students

Or paint colors! Whoever sits around coming up with those must have a blast. Been to the paint store lately? You’ll find every hue and shade from Wisteria Snow and Gothic Amethyst to Peach Encounter and Turkish Coffee.

Visualize people sitting around the table, spouting ideas that get bounced around like a racket ball spinning from wall to wall. Palpable energy sizzles as creativity takes wing. Like popcorn spinning from a popper.

Photo credit: Elo Vazquez on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-ND

Now hone in the artist in his studio, standing at the easel, paintbrush in hand. He’s so entranced he doesn’t hear laughter, TV, or sirens. A stroke of vermillion here, a splash of crimson there–unimpeded by the world. The last thing he wants is someone knocking on the door.

Or note the author plunking away at her keyboard in isolation. She’s oblivious to everything outside the open window. Characters and actions flit across her mind’s eye, then settle in to stay. Heated dialogue sparks and crackles, just as real as this morning’s breakfast.

A far cry from the noisy committee! Yet both artist and author are immersed in a creative process as vital as the board room meeting.

In fact, some people claim they can’t think or create with people around.

Others need the energy sparked by colleagues for imagination to flourish.

Some say ideas just pop into their head without warning. Like popcorn.

Others say their ideas incubate, swimming around in murky waters a while before making themselves known. In the back burners of the mind, flavors meld together over time. Like a slow cooker.

Whether you’re the more artistic “right-brained” type or the more methodical, analytical “left-brained” thinker, you need an environment that invites new ideas rather than inhibits.

Surely personality has something to do with it. And whether a person is an introvert or extravert. Where does energy come from? From outside or within?

Both methods are valid. And needed.

Do you come up with your best ideas in discussion or solitude? Popcorn-style or slow cooker?

Please add your comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

Ever musing,


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17 thoughts on “Creativity: Popcorn Popper vs. Slow Cooker?

  1. Sometimes I’m the popcorn and sometimes the slow-cooker. I wrote a 2-act musical in a weekend, but an 800-word post can take me two years. Ideas? Like PopRocks, I’m bombarded with them constantly–but they often require some simmering to flesh out the flavors. And people around me become white noise as long as I can have music playing. If I’m home and it’s too quiet, the dust starts calling my name.
    So I guess the end result? Sometimes I right-brained, sometimes left, but generally, I’m probably a big pot of slow-cooked popcorn soup! 😉

    1. Maybe we’re all a mix, depending on the product. Sometimes I can’t come up with a new idea until I take a walk, clean out some files, or do something else completely unrelated to my project. Then all of a sudden, it’s there! Other times, the idea is brewing for a long time before it takes shape.

      1. I totally agree on a walk helping the thoughts flow.
        I remember once working with a group in college. We had to come up with an idea for a presentation, but our group was last, and everything we thought of, someone else did before we could. We sat in a room, struggling. Finally I said I needed a Diet Coke. I walked to the machine down the hall, came back, and outlined an entire 25-minute proposition.
        This guy sat staring. “You got all that from going to get a Diet Coke?” 🙂

  2. I think I am more of a popcorn popper person. I generate ideas by processing with others. I would love to work for OPI – coming up with those amazing names that they have for their nail polish colors. So creative!

  3. I’m a little of both, or maybe more of a slow-cooker, but definitely got some popcorn in me. I recently co-wrote a TV pilot script with a talented friend, and we had a lot of fun bouncing ideas! I’d love to be in a TV writer’s room someday collaborating– I hear it’s quite an experience! But, the paragraphs in your blog entry that really grabed me were the ones with the painter and the writer oblivious to the world around them as they create… Those are the kind of moments I crave!

    1. I crave those quiet, oblivious moments, too! Plus, I think when you co-create, you need broad shoulders. You take the risk of putting your thoughts out there, for all to see, not knowing how people will respond. Of course, at some point, you have to do that anyhow–either at the beginning or the end of the creative process.

  4. I don’t create for the sake of creating. Not sure I could! Most of my creations come out of life’s happenings. So I’m currently creating quilts because of a desire to have some mementos after a family loss, and most of my writing is born from life’s current quandaries that need expression in order to assist my mental health status. So is that a popcorn popper or a slow-cooker? Not sure!

    1. Maybe it doesn’t matter which method it is as long as you’re following the muse! It sounds like your endeavors are definitely going to bless your family.

  5. I would say that there is a bit of both in me. Sometimes ideas pop into my mind, from which I draw inspiration. At other times I do better in a group arena where ideas are shared. Overall, my preference would be more along the lines of the slow cooker!

    1. And the advantage of the slow cooker method is that by the time you’ve cooked them up, the ideas have stood the test of time! At least inside your head.

  6. Ideas often come to me as popcorn, especially if I am relaxed, well-rested, and in a different environment than my typical day-to-day work and home life. When I go to a museum, a concert, visit another city, take a long hike, my creativity lights up and I get all sorts of ideas for fictional story plots, characters and situations. I try to write them down for later. It doesn’t matter if they have a purpose right away. The slow-cooker will determine if the idea will survive and make it into a future story.

    1. There is definitely something to be said for a change of scenery in helping the ideas to flow. Also, I do the same thing you do–the thoughts pop up and I have to grab them and write them down. I can’t always use them immediately, so they go into the slow cooker where they grow and/or change over time.

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