Help! I need to think creatively!!

November 17th, 2006 by Sit up a Tree

We’re all told to think outside the box. Being creative, coming up with ideas, new solutions, breakthrough thinking – they’re essential in industry. But, largely we brought up to think the same. School is all about conforming, doing the same thing. It can be a pretty hard job then to suddenly pull a bunch of original ideas out of your ear! So here are some tips to help you be creative when you’re feeling at your most uncreative!

  • Get random! Remember that old thing in school where you were told to write about anything and you just stared at the page? Even if at that second your head was filled with a host of ideas, plans, schemes, memories and dreams, the moment you’re hit by blank sheet syndrome it’s all gone. You can’t think of a thing. If this happens to you , you’ll probably know the panic that comes with it. So what to do? Get random. Don’t try and think of something, think of anything. The first thing that comes into your head. The goal here is to forget that you’re supposed to be thinking of something in particular. Or the solution to a problem. So just play with it. Don’t be afraid to let your mind wander. Daydream for a couple of minutes and when you come back to it your creative thinking engine will be ignited and idling in your driveway ready for you to take it out for a spin!
  • But I really can’t think of anything! OK If I told you to think of anything and you’re saying you can’t it’s probably more of an emotional block, like a rabbit caught in the headlights. But if I said ‘let’s play I-spy you go first’, you’d probably be able to come up with something because you’d pick an object you could see, a chair, a desk, a screen. In other words a visual stimulus to start the game. Looking at something and naming it is a good way to break the thousand mile stare into the headlights. Now wake up the creative part of your brain by putting your head on one side and looking at the object again. What’s different? Now close your eyes and recreate that object in your head. Now change its color. Play with it. If it’s got legs like a table give it an extra one. If it’s got a screen, imagine it with a big eye instead. The trick is to break out of the left brain freeze and free up the subtler more creative right brain.
  • If getting random doesn’t work, get more random! If you haven’t got an oracle to hand or a copy of the I-Ching, get your inspiration from anywhere. Take the first noun that the DJ next says on the radio. If you need to come up with the subject for a story and you’re staring at a shelf of books, try picking the 75th page of the 3rd book from the right. Pick the first noun you come to in the 4th line. Now do the same only pick your own numbers and a verb. Build it up that way. Even if the ideas are nonsense you’ll kick-start your creativity.
  • Write it out! Very often when we need to be creative it is with a specific problem in mind and we need to come up with a new solution. One way to do this is to sit down and write twenty possible solutions. The first five will usually be the most obvious. The next ten will be impossible and the final five will usually be the most difficult, but also the most productive and likely solutions.
  • Free writing. One of the best ways to get creative is free writing. Start writing about the topic for about five to ten minutes. After a little while you’ll find that you’ll begin writing about a particular area specifically and the ideas will start flowing. Sometimes at the very least it helps to clarify the full nature of the problem. This clarity in itself can take the panic out of finding a solution!
  • Think how Perry Mason would solve it. It sounds daft but this one works for a lot of people. They pick a fictional character that they know well and think (or write down) how they would solve your problem. It doesn’t even have to be a fictional person. Pick a real person that you know and think about how they would approach it.
  • Ask your subconscious. That sounds easy but how? First you start by getting the question right. Asking yourself ‘can i solve this problem’ is going to get a one word answer and probably not the one you want to hear. So ask an open question (how can we? what can I do? what solutions are available?) Asking yourself loaded questions aren’t going to help. For example asking ‘How are you going to find a solution to this, you loser?’ is not going to bring your creativity and self-confidence out of hiding. So make it positive. Tell yourself you can do it!

Now you’ve got the question ask the question. What next? Go do something else. It should be something repetitive that doesn’t need too much thought. Doing dishes, mowing the lawn, waxing the car are ideal because your hands are busy, your conscious brain and self criticism don’t stick around for such menial chores leaving your subconscious to work miracles!

So get creative!  Good luck!!


This entry was posted on Friday, November 17th, 2006 at 2:01 pm and is filed under Productivity. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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