Creativity is a funny thing. It seems to be something that everyone is born with to some degree, although some more than others.
Creativity comes in all shapes and forms and may not always be the arty farty type of creative thinking that we have become accustomed to when we think about creativity.
There are the visual creatives who have amazing ideas and concepts for art and film. The academic creatives. These people might be the Thomas Edisons or Albert Einsteins of the world who see the universe a bit differently and can come up with scientific or mathematical solutions that nobody ever considered. There are the writers, the performers and the entrepreneurs with their wacky, way out, exciting ideas that pave the way to our future.
There are times however when even the most creative of minds comes up blank. The creative flow is gone, the ideas are just out of reach, and the brain seemingly freezes over.
Here are a few suggestions to get the creative flow moving again.
Have a shower
This is a well known, common suggestion. For one good reason. It works! I can’t tell you how often the best ideas come during that zone out time in the shower. It’s often the place where our minds are free to wander, the running water wakes up our mind and bodies, and creativity can run free.
Something you might not know is that some creative advertising agencies have showers at their place of work to use during the work day for this very reason.
Try something new
Learn a new skill, take up surfing, go bungy jumping or learn to sew. Learning a new skill can be the door to seeing things differently.
"Creativity is intelligence having fun"
Ask a child
Our 6 year old son sees the world in an unusually creative way. He is not restricted by the conformities of society and his mind runs free in ways that only a 6 year olds can. Ask him to write a story and he will have multiple ideas flowing at the same time. Take time to consult a youngling and see what they come up with. You never know, it might just give you a new idea of your own.
Look from a different perspective
A change of perspective can make the difference between a good thought and a brilliant thought.
Get down low, get up to a high point. A different physical perspective can change the way you perceive the world.
Imagining the world from someone else’s perspective is another good way to see the world creatively. Imagine you are the person serving ice creams – what are they seeing, feeling, touching? Seeing the world from someone else’s perspective also has the added benefit of helping us become a bit more tolerant in a sometimes intolerant world.
Taking an idea and letting it evolve and change can lead to ideas that you never expected to have. The 16 box group brainstorming strategy is one that encourages wild
ideas and builds on the ideas of others. Often we fall into the trap of running with our first idea. By having a group brainstorm 16 ideas, the best concept is usually about number 11. The more ideas the better and it’s important to not to slam an idea for being too wacky or out there. That seemingly bad idea just might be the catalyst to the brilliant one.
Ah. My favourite. A well rested mind is often where creative concepts are born. Keep a notepad or a voice recorder next to the bed so as not to let that life-changing thought slip away.
Be ready to capture a good idea where-ever, whenever.
Recently I heard Guy Howard-Willis - highly successful entrepreneur, founder and director of 1-Day Deals and Torpedo 7 - share his story. He is a true entrepreneur in the true sense of the word. He has business ideas and concepts brewing that are creative, interesting and do-able and that would never cross my mind in a thousand years. When relaying the story of his furniture factory burning to the ground, he mentioned that this was what led him on his journey to starting Torpedo 7. He said that the tough times and necessity are often where the best ideas start. We HAVE to do something, so we start to think outside of the square.
Go for a walk or run
Getting out in nature for some exercise gets all the right physical responses in our body happening, which in turn stimulates our brains. When we leave behind the chatter and busyness of our day to day world, it gives our mind a chance to do the all important “nothing”. The added advantage of getting out in nature is that we start to see the world from a different perspective.
I’ll leave you with this thought from the University of Texas which sums up quite nicely the importance of “doing nothing".
“THE IMPORTANCE OF "DOING NOTHING"
Of course, we don't literally mean do nothing. The point is to get out of your own way by calming your mind or giving it something simple to do so you can focus. Whatever method of generating ideas you use, it is essential to take time to reflect, think about your work, or just rest. This allows what creativity theorists call the "incubation" phase, that phase in which ideas seem to simply emerge while you are doing something "mindless" (walking the dog, showering, cooking, etc.).“
Let us know in the comments box below how you get your most creative thoughts. Is it while you are “doing nothing” or faced with a challenge?
Author: Sarah Galbraith
University of Texas