How is it possible to think new thoughts? Creativity is the process leading to the generation of new and valued ideas. Creativity can solve almost any problem. The imaginative act, the conquest of routine by originality, overcomes everything. Creativity is the ability to come up with ideas or artifacts that are new, unanticipated, and beneficial. Creativity is best thought of as a kind of effort, not an abstract thing—it is what goes on when you are trying to solve a problem.
- Exercise your brain. Creativity involves putting old things together in new ways. Brains, like bodies, need exercise to keep fit. If you don’t exercise your brain, it will get flabby and useless. Exercise your brain by reading a lot, talking to intelligent people and disagreeing with people—arguing can be a wonderful way to give your brain cells a workout.
- Brainstorm. To develop something truly amazing, you have to produce many ideas, even crazy ones. If properly carried out, brainstorming can help you not only come up with sacks full of new ideas, but can help you choose which is best. Finding the mastery of ourselves through brainstorming feeds the source of collective satisfaction and creativity. Team up with a coworker who has complementary skills: If you’re a detail-oriented person, find a big-picture partner, or vice versa. During brainstorming, you will determine that not every idea is worth implementing, but if you are too harsh in your evaluation of ideas, you might create a mental process that does not generate new ideas.
- If you can’t think, go for a walk or distract yourself. A change of atmosphere is good for you and gentle exercise helps shake up the brain cells. Einstein once acknowledged, “Creativity is the residue of time wasted.” Many significant breakthroughs have happened in the unlikeliest of places: Archimedes’s ideas of buoyancy in the bathtub, physicist Richard Feynman thinking of equations at a strip club. Companies like Google putting ping-pong tables and other so-called distractions in workplaces so that engineers invent ideas as they relax.
- Always carry a notebook and a pen or pencil around with you. Creativity originates from an inspiration inside of us. Often this flash of insight leads a person to produce something that is unique in its nature. That way, if you have a spark of an idea, you can quickly note it down.
- Experiment and allow yourself to make mistakes. Pick a problem you care about and get to work. If you don’t care about anything, your problem isn’t creativity, it’s apathy. Art is knowing which ones to keep. We all have a natural creative style; find it and start from there. Try things out and if it doesn’t work try something else. Try to solve problems in different ways. One of the most common letdowns of talented people is a lack of courage. They tend to play it safe. In creativity, you have to play a less safe game, if want it to be interesting.
- Be observant and passionate about your work. Creativity is the combination of familiar ideas in unfamiliar ways. Everything starts with noticing things; scrutinize the world around you and think about how you could do things better. Feed your mind with what you are passionate about. Pursue your aspirations. Most creative people are very passionate about their work, yet they can be extremely objective about it as well.
- Be curious like a child. Don’t take things for granted; have a questioning disposition; ask why. Creativity represents a miraculous coming together of the uninhibited energy of the child with its perceptible opposite and enemy, the sense of order imposed on the disciplined adult intelligence. Combination and reorganization of ideas may bring about new ideas and new understandings that are the trademark of creative thought.
- Expose yourself to new things. Ideas seem to emerge almost by magic without any real explanation for their development. Creative people are both rebellious and conservative. As Leonardo da Vinci once said, “One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.” New people, new experiences equals new ideas and new perspectives. More of the same people and experiences equals more of the same ideas. Accept what you’re given and make it work.
- Read as much as you can about everything possible. Books exercise your brain, provide inspiration and fill you with information that allows you to make imaginative connections easily. Creativity is often about knowing things and then putting those ideas together in a new way. The field of aerodynamics borrows heavily from the physical constructions of fish and birds. Environmentally-conscious architects borrow heavily from ideas from primitive housing. Therefore, don’t just read a lot; read broadly.
Creativity is a skill and anyone can learn to be creative and to get better at it. As you begin to practice more creative practices, you’ll find yourself actually becoming more and more creative. And likely, more and more successful. Have patience as you try these techniques for yourself.