“Do you want to play white, or do you want to be black?” My grandfather worked as a draftsman designing submarines. He has a keen understanding of math and strategy. When I was growing up he used to play chess with me all the time… and he would win usually within five moves.
One night (I think it was after one of our small family birthday parties) my grandfather had beat me best out of three games again. He has this great laugh that just made me smile when I lost and left me confounded as to how he always beat me. Being the reader I was I had started reading a biography on a famous chess master. It was a long time ago but I think the chess master was Bobby Fischer, and he had drawn a chess board on his ceiling. He would lie awake at night, strategizing how to improve his game.
That night as I lay awake in bed I could not get out of my mind how easily my grandfather had won those chess games, so I visualized a chess board on my ceiling. The mind is a powerful thing. If creatively utilized in quiet moments it can generate solutions to problems standard problem solving might miss. By visualizing the potential chess strategies and guessing at my grandfather’s counter moves I was able to figure out how he repeatedly won against me.
The next time I played chess… I won! We ended up having so many fun, competitive matches. Some of my best memories. My grandfather picked up a used trophy of a golden horse. Each time we played a chess game the trophy was at stake. We jotted down our matches in a little notebook, each time letting the winner take the trophy home.
Chess, my Grandpa, and creative thinking are all linked in my mind. Chess forced me to be creative. Chess forced me to contemplate the potential outcomes of each move before I made it.
Today I approach writing in much the same way. I sit back and contemplate scenarios, character development, and moral implications. It is important to think strategically. Often we desire to rush a creation when, instead, all that is needed is thoughtful strategy. Maybe instead of immediately attacking with the queen, we move out our knight and bishop to set up the field.
Question: How does strategy play into your creative thinking?
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