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Brainstorm: Harnessing the Power of Productive Obsessions Paperback – May 18, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Eric Maisel (Coaching the Artist Within), a creativity coach and columnist, and wife Ann Maisel (What Would Your Character Do?) have collaborated on a self-help book with an intriguing twist: that the right kind of "productive" obsession is not only desirable but an essential feature of creativity. To lend credibility to their claim the Maisels reference research into consciousness that suggests the cerebral cortex contains dynamic cooperatives of neurons which may lay the foundation for "a productive obsession that is a large neuronal gestalt of long duration - a big idea that lasts a long time." In answer to the criticism that any obsession might be dangerous, the Maisels acknowledge that this possibility hasn't been thoroughly investigated but believe the gains outweigh any potential negatives. The process of nurturing productive obsessions, the authors believe, is at the heart of how we value life and find purpose. It goes beyond simple stimulation, neat ideas, or interesting hobbies. By "investing meaning," in our ideas, we can move from mere interest to "the meaningfulness of authentic engagement." All too often people overlook the basics of a productive life, distracted by multitasking, marketing, and information overload. With this provocative departure from the usual lifestyle manual, the Maisels are out to break us of those tendencies.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Camille Minichino, physicist and author of the Periodic Table Mysteries
What a pivotal way to experience your brain and all that it can create! I love that this book celebrates and teaches the concept of productive obsession and the multitudinous gifts of brainstorming.”
SARK, author, artist, and creative fountain
A great tool for anyone who might be feeling stuck with a creative urge or idea but hasn’t brought it to fruition. You’ll discover how to use your brain as your ally and go beyond what you thought possible.”
Phyllis Lane, documentary filmmaker
Elegantly combines the most inspiring elements of mindfulness, engagement, focus, and flow. Eric Maisel shows how we can be more productive by turning obsessions into positive passions.”
Susan K. Perry, PhD, social psychologist, author of Writing in Flow, and creativity blogger for Psychology Today
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Top Customer Reviews
There are excellent points made in the book - about choosing the direction of your mental energy, not wasting your obsessions, turning off bad obsessions, and brainstorming with intention. These fall under a general distrust of "scope creep." Very important to keep in mind and something I've recently taken more serious to great benefit.
But the majority of the book is filler - fluff stories and anecdotals that extend the page count and justify the seller's cost I assume. These junk sentences surround, and at times smother, the good and valuable nuggets of wisdom that give life to this author's argument.
This is an okay book with very good points made. Don't waste your time reading every sentence - skim this book, highlight the important segments (they pop) and don't let the rest frustrate you. Accept it for what it is and use the few and good from these pages to your advantage.
But here's the thing: for someone who is a creativity coach, his body of work does not show a great deal of creativity. Not only do I not seeing Maisel producing notable works of, say, literature or film or art, but even the books he creates tend to be pretty much the same sort of advice over and over, with minor variations in emphasis. As good as I found Atheist's Way, it's hard not to conclude after seeing the efforts that came before or after it that it might not have been just one more marketing trick, one more way to package some advice that is very sound, very excellent--but not very original--for an additional audience. In one sense there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, and I was grateful for the nod to atheists' hard work of creating meaning and wresting meaning from a universe that does not easily yield it.
In another sense, though, it's hard to escape the sarcastic voice in my head when I read "Brainstorm" saying something along the lines of, "Physician, heal thyself." Don't preach to me about the crucial nature of creativity, of productive obsessions, when you have been writing the same book for several years now.
That, however, is a meta-criticism across the entirety of Maisel's output. Taken by itself, Brainstorm is a good book. It is a clear, concise, cogent prod to creativity and actually taking the steps, doing the work, absolutely essential to having the kind of life one can feel good about and proud of. That's a terrifically valuable assertion to make, and the advice is top-drawer. All that being said, I wish that someone as obviously talented as Maisel is could move beyond his obsession for marketing a few good ideas and get a brainstorm about some new contribution to make. I have no doubt it could be momentous.
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