A favourite tool of mine is Oblique Strategies, which started life as a set of cards created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt in the 1970s (and which have been updated several times sine). The Oblique Strategies cards provide a way to get around creative roadblocks, each featuring an instruction on how to proceed. By selecting a card at random and following the guidance on the card, one can ‘trick’ the mind into exploring potentially novel paths in response to the card. My favourite has always been “Honour thy error as a hidden intention”, but they are all useful. Here are some random selections:
- Breathe more deeply
- Use an old idea
- Destroy -nothing -the most important thing
- Think of the radio
- Only one element of each kind
- Would anybody want it?
For those interested, a current version of the card deck is available at Eno Shop.
There was, in the past, an elegant Mac OS X dashboard widget that provided access to the text of the Oblique Strategies cards (all editions), as well as a similar iPhone app. It appears that both are no longer available via Apple, possibly for quite reasonable reasons relating to copyright. I still have my app, though, sitting next to Bloom, Trope, and Air on my iPhone, and I still draw on it regularly for inspiration. It would be lovely to see Oblique Strategies made available in these formats again.