Prapas Cholsaranon, whom we know as a thinker, writer, songwriter, director,
award-winning television program producer and co-founder of Workpoint Entertainment, talked about his thinking methods candidly in the annual symposium Creativities Unfold, Bangkok 2008.
“People think all the time. Everyone is a thinker.” Prapas told the audience and explained his own theory of how people think, which can be divided into 3 types: exact thinking, estimate thinking, and choice thinking. The third is a combination of the first two, which results in creativity. To have choice thinking is to have imagination.
As an experienced thinker, Prapas has come up with “thinking methods” which he shared with the audience.
The 7 thinking methods are:
1. Destroy the box of illusion Prapas strongly opposed the idea of thinking outside the box. According to him, it is the box that gives us ideas. Everything comes with a box but the box is actually far larger than we think. The problem is that people often create their own box of familiarity, which blocks the ideas. Prapas added that his ideas come from the box because it gives him the basis of thinking. The thing that we need to do is to destroy the box of illusion we create.
2. Reverse your angle Prapas cited John Cage, an American composer who performed a song of silence made up entirely of rest symbols, as a great example of reversing one’s perspectives. He also pointed out that the words “listen” and “silent” are anagrams of each other. The order of the alphabets changes, so does the meaning.
3. Fight fire with fire A good example of this type of creative thinking is the Eskimos tradition of building igloos out of ice to shield people from the cold.
4. Small things matter Prapas got the idea for Fan Pan Tae (“True Fan”) television program from listening to his friends talking about something so trivial and, according to him, not worth knowing. He found it interesting that there are people who actually know about these little insignificant things as well as entertaining to listen to them talk so passionately about their favorite subjects.
5. Coupling Putting small things together can breed creativity. Prapas gave a few examples: tom yam (spicy soup) noodles, the iPhone, and the Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall. A recent creative idea he found at the shopping mall was mango nam pla wan (mango in fish sauce dip) ice cream. He found this to be a very interesting idea but was not sure if it was doing well since he did not give it a try.
6. What ifs This is the method Prapas uses most often when composing lyrics or writing. His example was the song, “If there were only the two of us in the world…” Hypothesizing allows us to imagine the impossible, and makes it possible in our mind.
7. Just Write it. Prapas uses this method to create various pieces of work. He told the audience that the song “Long Live the Host” was at first written as “Long Live the Creditor.” But it did not feel right, so he kept rewriting until it became “Long Live the Host”. He believes that ideas can come from the process of writing. Put down what comes into your head, and keep on working until you make the best out of it.
All these methods fall under the category of ‘choice thinking’. They take us out of the box of familiarity which he believes is such a large obstacle to creativity. Nothing in this world is original or completely new. Everything builds on existing ideas. Just the same, Prapas’ thoughts might spark some new ideas for the audience.
To many people, Prapas seems like a great thinker who cranks out ideas
at the drop of a hat. But Prapas himself was surprised to hear that comment. He refuted: “Do I look like someone who has ideas all the time?” He backed his statement when, at the end of the session, an audience member asked what to do when ideas run out as he answered: “I have no idea. I’ve also run out of ideas right now.”
Summary of lecture by Prapas Cholsaranon
Annual symposium Creativities Unfold, Bangkok 2008.
3 October 2008, TCDC
Translated by Siritharin Chareonsiri