The “Magic Formula” to Be Prolific, say Scientists
Cracking the Code of Creative “Hot Streaks” using AI
There’s a way to trigger creative “hot streaks,” like legendary artists during prolific periods churning out masterpiece after masterpiece.
Think of your favorite musician or painter… They most likely went through a period of “peak performance” where they created most of the works that defined them.
Writers often speak of the “flow state” where they pen sweeping narratives in one euphoric session. It’s a state-of-mind more precious than gold because it can create works that can make an artist’s career.
So, how to trigger these creative hot streaks? Scientists have identified the two keys to get the creative genius bursting.
Creative hot streaks begin with bold experimentation
If you’re trying to do the same thing over and over and hoping for success, that’s the wrong route. In fact, it’s the opposite of what you want to do, until success strikes, that is.
Scientists found that people who experimented in the fields, even going wildly outside the norms, were the most likely to hit up on something new and exciting.
Vincent Van Gogh began painting objects as expressions of light.
Bob Dylan added philosophy to rock.
Steve Jobs turned a music player into a phone.
Once each of these artists made the breakthrough, what did they do next? They focused on continuing to down the new innovative path, creating more successful works and defining entire new genres.
What Scientists Found using AI
Northwestern University researchers reported that, “By using artificial intelligence to mine big data related to artists, film directors and scientists,” they discovered a pattern common to successful creative streaks, even calling is a “magical formula.”
The data showed hot streaks result from years of exploration (experimenting with different styles, genres, etc.) immediately followed by years of exploitation (cultivating what worked).
“Neither exploration nor exploitation alone in isolation is associated with a hot streak. It’s the sequence of them together,” Dashun Wang, who led the study.
So here’s your 2-step formula to becoming prolific:
- Explore outside the norms until a breakthrough is achieved.
- Replicating the breakthrough so it evolves and carves out its own niche.
“Blessed are the weird people:
poets, misfits, writers
mystics, painters, troubadours
for they teach us to see the world through different eyes.”
― Jacob Nordby