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Having a hard time coming up with good topic for your blog? Hitting a dead end on your company project? Whether you’re a writer or a designer, this article is for you.
The creative process is very important. Nothing can be left to chance or luck. Every aspect of a creative project, from the original idea to its conception and design, requires utmost diligence and preparation to ensure a great product. Creativity is a skill that needs constant cultivation. It does not fall from the sky like rain or appear out of thin air. It is like the fruit that is ready for harvest: It all started with an original seed hidden from sight that was painstakingly watered, nourished and cared for until it gave birth to a beautiful product, ready to be presented to the world.
Even the simplest projects require creativity to see things from a different point of view or to make connections between seemingly unrelated ideas. If you ever get stuck and are unable to come up with fresh ideas, here are 13 simple ways to boost your creativity:
If you have the time and money to afford an out-of-town trip to get into the right creative mood, do so. However, if you have limited time and resources or simply aren’t keen on traveling very far, one thing you can do is change your environment by redecorating your room or office.
Add temporary shades or strip your old wallpaper and replace it with a new pattern; adjust the lighting and change the settings in your room, from dimly lit to illuminated or vice versa, and you will see it has an instant effect on your mood.
Redecorating your environment not only provides you with a new perspective on your living space, it also provides your creative self with a new angle on your project or idea.
In a previous post on creativity, I discussed one particular technique: Asking yourself a question and then viewing it from different angles to come up with different answers. This method is similar, only that you use WHY questions to further explore your options.
This technique can also be effectively used in concept mapping. As ideas come up, try challenging each of them with a “why” question:
You are working on a project design.
Why are you working on a project design? Because your company needs to create an ad.
Why do they need an ad? Because they want to sell their product.
Why should their product matter to consumers? What makes it interesting? It runs on solar power.
Why is solar power important? And so on.
White – Use facts and figures to come up with something
Red – Use emotions to come up with something
Black – Use the negatives to come up with something. Be careful to use your judgment and exercise caution.
Yellow- Use the positives to come up with ideas.
Green – Think outside the box. Use alternatives.
Blue – Look at what you have and make something out of it.
You can also ask yourself these questions to turn existing ideas into new ones:
Can you put this to other uses? As it is? Or modified?
Can it be adapted? Is there anything else like this? What does this tell you? Is the past comparable?
Can it be modified? Give it a new angle? What happens when you alter the color, sound, odor, meaning, motion, and shape?
Can you magnify it? Can anything be added in terms of time, frequency, height, length or strength? Can it be duplicated, multiplied or exaggerated?
Can it be "minified"? Can anything be taken away? Made smaller? Lowered? Shortened? Lightened? Omitted? Broken up?
Can you substitute anything? Different ingredients used? Other material? Other processes? Other place? Other approach? Other tone of voice? Someone else?
Can anything be rearranged? Swap components? Alter the pattern, sequence or layout? Change the pace or schedule? Transpose cause and effect?
Can it be reversed? Opposites? Backwards? Reverse roles? Change shoes? Turn tables? Turn other cheek? Transpose ‘+/-’?
Can it be combined with something else? Combine units, purposes, appeals or ideas? A blend, alloy, or an ensemble?
You can’t be both creative and critical. The latter limits the former by blocking your ability to recognize that even the ideas that seem like bad ones can be polished and used in the future.
Never be harsh on yourself. Understand that everything is a process and that you are creative no matter what you’re struggling with at the moment.
Reading stimulates the brain. It opens the mind to new possibilities. It inspires and increases creativity.
If you find yourself stuck, try reading a dictionary or any book within your reach.
If you have a dictionary, pick a word and see if you can associate the word with your project. If you have a book, do the same and you will quickly find yourself thinking outside of the box.
Use your concept map or Osborn checklist to do this.
Avoid pressuring yourself to produce your best work. More often than not, you will start your creative process thinking about how others will view the end product, rather than how you want them to see it.
By limiting your expectations, you will remove the burden of having to come up with the “right” product. Instead, replace the stress with love and passion for what you’re doing.
Practice makes perfect. Improving your creativity is not all about finding new techniques in the latest design courses or attending the best design school or any other school to enhance your skill. It has more to do with loving what you do and doing it relentlessly.
If you’re a writer, write something new every day. Sooner or later, the ideas will begin to flow.
If you’re a designer, design something new every day, even if it is just redesigning or reworking old projects that you have.
Accept and learn that there is always room for improvement.
Practicing your craft every day helps you achieve the level of creativity you want in your profession.
Doing something new will give you a new perspective. It inspires new ideas and gives you a fresh take on things.
Do things that you have never thought of doing. Explore and learn.
The best things happen outside of our comfort zones.
Relaxing your mind has more benefits than you may imagine. Relaxation unlocks creativity as it rejuvenates the mind.
Relaxation need not be time-consuming or expensive. It can entail simple activities like walking on the beach or going for a dip in the pool. It can be anything that will let your mind relax and revive your mood.
Meditation has also been known to unlock mental potential. It organizes your thoughts and increases productivity. Most importantly, it calms the mind and brings you back to the present moment, refreshed and more open to creative thoughts and better ideas.
Research has found that having a positive outlook on life encourages individuals to be more adventurous and enhances creative thinking.
The broaden-and-build-theory, for example, states that whenever a person feels happy, thrilled and fascinated, they are more likely to become daring and exploratory.
This overwhelming feeling of positivity makes individuals more flexible in their thoughts and, therefore, more creative.
Associating yourself with fellow creative thinkers and doers allows you to learn new things and expand your horizons.
You can learn from their mistakes, take inspiration from their ideas and share your creative problems with them. You will find great solace in this since they know where you’re coming from.
By finding friends you can constantly share and interact with, you expand your knowledge and give yourself the opportunity to work and play at the same time.
Find that old Lego set and bring it out. Start putting parts together and let your mind wander.
Pick out some pieces and just start putting them together. Put a box or a bowl of Legos next to your table and every time you feel like you’re blocked, pause and start building.
Creativity needs nourishment. If you don’t constantly free your mind from the hustle and bustle of your daily work, chances are you are inhibiting your creativity instead of allowing it to flourish..
Creativity is not all about having the right ideas at the right time. It is the ability to create something from nothing that may be of good use now or in the future. The key is not to feel defeated when you hit a road block.
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