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Showing 1-10 of 34 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 53 reviews
on March 25, 2013
This fascinating book not only claims that we all have what it takes to be creative people but also gives a research-backed, step-by-step process to make this claim a reality. The format is very user-friendly, with lists and personal assessments, inspiring quotes, and intriguing tales and current research supporting Keith Sawyer's eight steps to greater creativity. An impressive blend of the scientist and the artful storyteller, Sawyer makes it fun to learn how to solve every-day and entrenched problems with fresh insights. This is not a linear process but one which "zig zags" along.

Be warned, Sawyer is very clear that creativity is not the result of one sudden inspiration that we can quickly acquire by some new form of free thinking nor is it a magic potion to be pulled out when stumped with a difficult problem...rather it is the result of specific daily practices combined with hard work. The exciting news is that once we make these eight steps part of our modus operandi, we will grow accustomed to little bursts of insight and creativity permeating all of our projects and efforts. Whether we are business people, church volunteers, school principals, stay-at-home moms, or artists, this easy-to-read book can lead us to become truly creative people!
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on April 19, 2013
Full disclosure: I know Keith Sawyer and have worked with him. I'm, Bob Mankoff, the cartoon editor of The New Yorker. I've always been interested in the creative process especially as it relates to humor and the creation of cartoons. By the way, if you want to read all my reviews on Amazon, you can stop right here. This is the only one so far.

Anyway, I read a previous book by Keith "Group Genius" and was very impressed about the research he brought to bear on the general process of creativity and wondered if he was interested in looking into as it applied to humor creation. Long story short it did. As he wrote

"I found that there's a pattern to their creativity--and this pattern provides a window onto how all creativity works for scientists and inventors and for The New Yorker caption contest as well."

His new book "Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity", wasn't surprising to me because of my past work with Keith, but will be revelation to people who think creativity is some God given gift, or if you're an atheist, some genetic given gift. Reading this book will tell you it's the gift you can give yourself. First by buying the book, and then, by not just reading it, but by applying it's principals and doing it's assignments. Then, after you've given yourself the gift of creativity you can pass it on by re-gifting this book to someone who's still waiting for the light bulbs to go off in his or her own head.
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on June 17, 2014
Until recently I tried to buy every book on creative thinking that was published. I had to abandon this notion for two reasons. The first being the great number of books being published on the subject. The second being that I believe I've found the best book on creative thinking to see print in the last 30 years. That being this, ZIG ZAG by Keith Sawyer. I don't need to write an extensive review, just read what others have said about this book. It's fresh, insightful, and every time I open it at a random page and begin reading I learn something new. The first book I ever read on creativity was USE YOUR HEAD by Stuart Litvak back around 1983. It drastically rewired my brain and I haven't been the same since. If you look for that book you must find a first edition and avoid revised editions and the sequel, More Ways To Use Your Head. Something was lost in later editions. For lack of a better excuse, the magic was missing that was in that first edition. Creativty can take a writer a lomg way in his/her career. Buy and read as many books on the subject as you can afford. Two other books I highly recommend are CRACKING CREATIVTY and THINKERTOYS. The 4 books mentioned above have provided me an endless resource of ideas pouring out of my head for decades.
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on August 10, 2013
Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity

I became aware of Keith Sawyer's research when, in 2010/2011, I was awarded a faculty development leave to research and design a new undergraduate-level course in creativity for the non-arts major. I've been interested in the study of creativity since reading Arthur Koestler's The Act of Creation in grad school. As a nationally-recognized professor of theatre arts, I believe I've nurtured creativity in my students for over thirty-five years. Serious theatre practitioners have been exploring techniques for awakening and enhancing creativity at least since Constantin Stanislavski, founder of modern acting technique, began early in the twentieth century to seek what he called "the conscious keys to unlock the unconscious." Stanislavski observed that actors' performances were stunning when the artist was inspired but lackluster when she wasn't. In developing his "system," Stanislavski sought means for the actor to call upon creative inspiration at will--and his tools, along with the discoveries of additional artists, have become standard theatre pedagogy. Courses in theatre practice, such as acting, directing, and design, employ active learning methods to develop student creativity. Since the early 1980s, when I was awarded a Kellogg National Fellowship (leadership training and interdisciplinary research), I have pursued an interest in theatre-based techniques as active learning tools for other disciplines.

My development leave included apprenticeships with creativity teachers and massive reading in the field. Since my goal was to design a class, I looked not only for active learning exercises to use but a textbook. Although there are lots of "how to" creativity books out there--more every day--I found very few that seemed credible as a textbook. On the other end of the spectrum were books that focused primarily on research but little on creative practice. I was, however, extremely impressed with Keith Sawyer's rigorous and prolific research. For the first creativity course I taught, I assigned the second edition of his Explaining Creativity: The Science of Human Innovation. I supplemented this thorough review of creativity research with one of the "how to" books. I discovered that half of the class appreciated Explaining Creativity, and disdained the other text as cheesy. The other half of the class reversed these preferences, finding the "how to" text helpful and Explaining Creativity way more information than they wanted to know.

Zig Zag didn't come out until I was already teaching the second iteration of the creativity class, so I didn't have the opportunity to assign it. However, I snatched it hot off the presses and was delighted. Keith's suggested approaches arise from his research into creativity, and I respect him highly as a researcher. I can't imagine any student calling his thoughtful selection and presentation of creative strategies "cheesy." Furthermore, the book is not only well-written but concise. You may find some similar exercises in other creativity books such as Michalko's Thinkertoys--but Sawyer explains them better and with fewer words. Since I obtained Zig Zag mid-semester, I was able to try out a few of his suggested methods with my students. They liked the exercises, and even better, the strategies worked! I also appreciate chapter 8, in which (influenced by Design Thinking), the author convinces the reader of the value of prototyping, and explains how to do it.

Given his background in theatrical, as well as jazz, improvisation, I wish that Sawyer would have included more theatrical techniques among his suggested exercises. However, since I have plenty of effective theatre games at my fingertips, I don't need to have them in the textbook. The director of our university Honors College visited my class last spring and asked me to develop a one-credit version for incoming Honors freshmen this fall. I've assigned Zig Zag as the textbook. I'm sure that the students will appreciate Keith's wisdom, his knowledge, and a writing style that's not only clear and concise but enlivened with humor. I look forward to teaching with this book.
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on November 28, 2014
Zig Zag, Keith Sawyer’s book, takes a fresh look at creativity. In his book, Sawyer describes and fleshes out the 8 stages of the creative process. Although some of the stages are expected, they are some that caught the reader off guard. For example, the stages of play and look especially surprised the reader; however, as one reads the rationale for each unexpected stage, one is easily convinced of their importance. Sawyer does an excellent job organizing and explaining each stage. He presents evidence to support the significance of each stage and also fully explains each stage by elaborating and providing examples.

Sawyer not only does an excellent of job of explaining, but he also does an excellent job of applying each stage to his readers. At the end of each chapter, Sawyer presents several different practices and exercises that readers can perform in order to incorporate that particular stage into their creative process. The exercises are concise and clear. Sawyer not only teaches his readers about the stages of the creative process, but he also shows them how to integrate the stages into their own creative processes.
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on July 6, 2014
As a writer and graphic designer who has faced writer/designer block too many times to count, and even the occasional comment that I am NOT creative I am always looking for ways to boost my creativity. Now that I have started a business called "FlowZone - For The Weekender In You" which will be helping "Weekend" writers, artists, athletes, scientists, etc. at the very least develop "Zone" on command and more importantly aimed at creating (and maintaining for as long as possible) "Flow" on demand I was extremely interested in his linking of the Creative Process to Flow States. The only thing I took issue with was that some of the exercises utilized old problems that almost everyone is familiar with or impractical practices. Overall this is an absolutely excellent exploration of Creativity and Flow. It should be a must-read for every artist, scientist, business leader, etc.
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on December 8, 2014
I am a student in a creative thinking class and Zig Zag was one of our required reading materials. I generally don't like the recommended reading materials but i thought that Zig Zag was a very interesting and fun book to read. It is a book that the reader engages with like no other book and the way it was written really helps you understand the material.
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on July 2, 2013
I have taught creative thinking for the Creative Problem Solving Institute of SUNY/Buffalo, Mensa, NLP DOTAR/Santa Cruz, Los Angeles College of Chiropractic and other venues since the mid-1970's. I consider Zig Zag as a source full of useful and practical information that will sharpen the essential skill of creative living for any and all with the eyes to see, the ears to hear and the passion improve one's lot in life. BUY THIS BOOK...then USE IT!
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on December 5, 2014
Sawyer creates a great design to spur the creative process in a structured manner. The eight techniques Sawyer produces in the book are helpful and can make even the deemed "un-creative" person thrive and shine with ideas. The step that comes to mind as the most difficult personally would be free your mind stage as in the world today we are bombarded with ideas and images and freeing your mind to focus on one idea is rather difficult. Two thumbs up!
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on June 19, 2015
Great book for the average person looking to better understand creativity. If you are looking specifically for a book outlining the research on creativity also take a look at the author's (Keith Sawyer) book Explaining Creativity. Both are excellent.
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