30 WAYS TO INCREASE YOUR CREATIVITY:
1. Stop second-guessing yourself and try not to focus on how others will perceive your work.
2. Study and experiment with several forms of media: music, photography, writing or drawing. You can often learn concepts from all of these media which you can apply to other disciplines.
3. Read one page of the dictionary every day and write down any words that catch your attention in a notebook. When you need inspiration, look through the words you have written down.
4. Show up: schedule a regular time to practice your craft–whether it’s writing or anything else–and show up, even if you’re not feeling creative.
5. Beware of the ten creativity “locks” identified by Roger von Oeck:
* There is One Right Answer
* That’s Not Logical
* Follow the Rules
* Be Practical
* Play Is Frivolous
* That’s Not My Area
* Avoid Ambiguity
* Don’t Be Foolish
* To Err Is Wrong
* I’m Not Creative
6. Immerse yourself in the task at hand: do your research, read everything you can about your subject, attend seminars, ask experts for their input, and so on.
7. Create a “swipe file”. This is basically a collection of items of interest which you found noteworthy and which you can refer to in order to help jump-start your creativity.
8. Be curious about everything. You never know when random, seemingly unrelated ideas will come together to form a new idea.
9. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Edward de Bono advises that “It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.”
10. Follow Pablo Picasso’s lead: learn the rules, and then break them.
11. Create Mindmaps. Write a topic heading in the center of a white piece of paper and then start writing related ideas on branches linked to the main topic; then add more ideas as sub-branches. Create as many levels of ideas as you want. Use different colors and add illustrations.
12. Ask yourself lots of questions.
13. Exercise during your lunch break.
14. Re-connect with your inner child:
* Buy crayons and a coloring book-the big thick kind filled with all kinds of images that you loved as a child–and sit down for an afternoon of coloring. It’s OK if you color outside the lines.
* When you were a child did you play jacks, draw with chalk on the sidewalk, build fortresses with Legos, or create “baked goods” with Play-Doh? Give yourself permission to spend some time playing with the things you loved as a child.
* Go to the playground. Play hopscotch, jump rope, climb on the swings, and climb on the jungle gyms.
* Make a cootie catcher. Did you forget how? Go here.
15. Constantly ask: “What if . . .”; “Why not . . .”; “How else can this be done?”; “How can this be improved?”; “What other alternatives are there?”
16. Disrupt your habitual thought patterns. Take a different route to work, try food you’ve never eaten before, listen to a music genre you normally don’t listen to, and so on.
17. Take a break. Seymour Cray, the legendary designer of high-speed computers, used to divide his time between building the next generation super computer and digging an underground tunnel below his Chippewa Falls house. He would immerse himself in his work, and then he would walk away from it and let the ideas percolate.
18. Learn to notice patterns. “The genius,” said American painter Ben Shahn, “is merely the one able to detect the pattern amidst the confusion of details just a little sooner than the average man.”
19. Confront your assumptions. Break a problem down into it’s smallest components and rebuild it from the ground up, questioning at every step whether that’s the best way to do it.
20. Awaken your sense of wonder. The authors of The Artist’s Way at Work suggest that once a week, for at least an hour, you take yourself on some small festive adventure. Explore something new, try something you’ve always wondered about.
21. Act on your creative impulses.
22. Define yourself as an artist of life.
23. Come up with your own version of reality.
24. Think of something routine you do on a daily basis and find a way to give it a little more pizazz.
25. Listen to your inner critic for tips on how to improve what you’re working on and to spot possible problems that need to be corrected. Then promptly thank your inner critic for sharing and proceed to ignore anything else he/she has to say.
26. Build your self-confidence. Insecurity in your abilities can suppress your creativity.
27. Use Edward de Bono’s “Six-Hat” technique.
* Red Hat: Look at the situation emotionally. What do your feelings tell you?
* White Hat: Look at the situation objectively. What are the facts?
* Yellow Hat: Use a positive perspective. Which elements of the solution will work?
* Black Hat: Use a negative perspective. Which elements of the solution won’t work?
* Green Hat: Think creatively. What are some alternative ideas?
* Blue Hat: Think broadly. What is the best overall solution?
28. Dancing is a very creative form of expression; intelligence does not reside only in the brain, your body knows things. Let your body contribute to your creative process by blaring the music and dancing around the room.
29. Make a habit of using your imagination.
30. Surround yourself with inspirational props, whether it’s books on creativity, a Ball of Whacks, images you find inspiring, creativity quotes, and so on.
WAYS TO BE UBER-CREATIVE:
1. Pause and allow the muse to whisper in your ear. To quote the poet Doug King: “Learn to pause . . . or nothing worthwhile will ever catch up to you.” Don’t underestimate the role of play and leisure in creativity.
2. Forget everything you learned in school. Much of our educational system is an elaborate game of “guess what the teacher is thinking”. In his article, “The Plural of Leaf is Tree”, Michael Meyerhoff explains that there’s a significant difference between doing well in school and learning. There are kids for whom the thrill is not in acquiring knowledge, but in manipulating that knowledge in an interesting manner. However, the “right answer” is often preferred over the creative answer in schools.
Consider this quote from Beatrix Potter: “Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.”
3. Don’t fall in love with your conclusions. If you become too enamored of your conclusions you’ll fail to see any evidence that contradicts your hypothesis and can miss a truly revolutionary idea.
4. Stop waiting for inspiration, get up and grab it by the horns. In the words of Peter de Vries: “I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at 9:00 o’clock every morning.”
5. Follow Roger van Oeck’s advice from his book “A Kick in the Seat of the Pants” and adopt the four roles of the creative process: Explorer, Artist, Judge, and Warrior.
* The Explorer. When it’s time to seek out new information, adopt the mindset of an Explorer. Get off the beaten path, poke around everywhere, be curious, and pay attention to unusual patterns.
* The Artist. When you need to create a new idea, let the Artist come out. Ask what-if questions and look for hidden analogies. Break the rules and look at things backwards. Apply creativity techniques. Exaggerate. Look at things from many different perspectives.
* The Judge. When it’s time to decide if your idea is worth implementing, or if there is anything that needs to be added or subtracted from your idea, see yourself as a Judge. Ask what’s wrong and if the timing is right. Question your assumptions and make a decision.
* The Warrior. When you carry your idea into action, be a Warrior. Get excited about implementing your idea, eliminate all excuses, and do what needs to be done to reach your objective.
6. Realize that the mind’s default state is to be uncreative. The following quote by Edward de Bono illustrates this point: “…the mind is habitually uncreative - it is usually preoccupied with organizing masses of incoming data into convenient patterns. Once this pattern is established, then the mind tends to rely upon that pattern in future situations, in order to facilitate decision making and action in an otherwise complex world…” Therefore, you have to be proactive when it comes to being creative.
7. In “Expect the Unexpected (or You Won’t Find It): A Creativity Tool Based on the Ancient Wisdom of Heraclitus” Roger Von Oech uses 30 of the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus’ epigrams to approach problems in a fresh manner. One of the epigrams he lists is the following: “A wonderful harmony is created when you join together the seemingly unconnected.”
Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press is considered one of the world’s greatest inventions. Before the printing press, all books were laboriously copied out by hand or stamped out with woodblocks. Around 1450 Gutenberg combined two ideas to invent a mode of printing with moveable type. He coupled the flexibility of a coin punch with the power of a wine press. His invention enabled the production of books and the spread of knowledge and ideas.
Here are two more interesting combinations:
* Someone put a copier and a telephone together and got a fax machine.
* Someone put a bell and a clock together and got an alarm clock.
8. Keep in mind the following epigram, also from taken from Von Oech’s book “Expect the Unexpected (or You Won’t Find It)”, when someone criticizes your work: “Dogs bark at what they don’t understand.”
9. Create a habit of completion. The amazingly creative author SARK explains in her book “Creative Companion: How to Free Your Creative Spirit” that you have to make your ideas “real”. She wanted to make some cards to guide and help people in their spiritual journeys, so she invented their form. By tearing French rag paper into small squares, and hand-coloring the edges, she created a canvas on which she could write her messages. She then folded an envelope out of the same paper, dyed some cotton string to tie it shut with, and wrote a simple instruction guide. And voilá . . . these became spirit cards and she sold thousands of them.
10. Exaggerate. Think big: what if you had to create your recipe for 50,000 people? Think small: take a look at Adele Lack’s incredible micropaintings.
11. Go Back to Basics. Pick up a pen or pencil and paper. There’s something about a good old-fashioned pen and a stack of papers, or a brand new notebook, that gets the creative juices flowing.
12. Concede that there are all kinds of ways to live a creative life, from arranging flowers in a vase, to cooking a meal from scratch, to finding a creative way to market your blog, to painting the walls of your home office in a color you mixed yourself at the paint shop, and so on.
13. Borrow ideas from others but make the end product your own. Michael de Meng has the following to say about creativity: “In my view, creativity is a rampant thievery mixed with reinterpretation . . . I see the act [of creativity] as being like a martini shaker, in which you add all those ingredients that you like or admire. Three parts Picasso, two parts Joseph Cornell, seven parts Mexican Folk Art, a splash of abstract expressionism, and garnish with a twist of Daidism.”
14. Focus. Great creative breakthroughs usually happen only after we have focused sufficient attention on our subject matter. That is, AHA! moments normally come only after much intense conscious effort. The answer may come to you in the shower or in a dream, but it comes as a culmination of the effort that you put into studying the issue at hand.
15. Practice being in a receptive state of mind. Instead of constantly having the television on, listening to your ipod, and surrounding yourself with noise and other distractions, practice being in a relaxed, contemplative state of mind. This state of mind is the one most conducive to allowing creative thoughts to slip into your mind.
16. Don’t be afraid of asking ridiculous questions. On November 2nd, 2000, Scott Ginsberg was wearing a nametag for a seminar and thought to himself: “What if I just kept this thing on my shirt every day?” He started to wear the nametag every single day, which so far has led to two published books, over eighty articles, more than 100 speeches, and countless interviews. It’s how he makes his living.
17. Always look for a multiplicity of ways to approach a subject. Most people stop looking for solutions to a problem once they’ve found a solution that works. Don’t stop at one solution: entertain different perspectives and alternative approaches. This will broaden your thinking and keep you open to new, and perhaps better, possibilities.
18. Think vertically and horizontally. Thinking vertically is basically looking for ways to improve the product or service that already exists. It’s about finding ways to drill oil while reducing the impact on the environment. Thinking horizontally is going off in a completely different direction. It’s creating alternative energy sources such as sugar ethanol and solar power.