A lot of folks take it for granted that people in creative professions have a “special gift” for effortlessly coming up with creative solutions. No doubt a certain amount of natural talent is needed for fields like designing, writing, painting, singing, etc., but creativity and inspiration are skills that can be learned.
The fact is, everybody has talent for creativity that can be nurtured and trained. The key to creativity is simple, really: pay more attention to your surroundings, your experiences and your process. However simple it sounds, though, learning how to really pay attention requires energy and action. The following three distinct and definable steps to creativity and inspiration are courtesy of Stefan Mumaw and Wendy Lee Oldfield, authors of Caffeine for the Creative Mind: 250 Exercises to Wake Up Your Brain.
Step 1: IVE vs. TION
- Sometimes we are so determined to be creatIVE that we ignore the process of creaTION. TION requires action! Instead of staring blankly at an empty computer screen or piece of paper, let those ideas being formed and rejected in your brain OUT, no matter how absurd they may seem! Putting them on paper frees up your brain to come up with more new ideas. And some of those seemingly crazy ideas can be the forerunners to more creative solutions.
Step 2: What If??
- Finding the right answers means asking the right questions. Qualifying questions like “What do you think of…” or “How about…” passively ask for approval and lead to ordinary answers. Instead, try asking (my very favorite question) “What if…?” It is an unqualified question of wonder that opens your mind to think about the extraordinary and the unusual-where creative ideas are often found!
Step 3: Get Psyched
If you were planning to run a marathon, you’d train for it, right? Creativity is no different. You can train and stretch your creative muscles same as your physical ones. Engage regularly in exercises specifically designed to get you thinking in alternative ways, showing you opportunities to alter your perspective slightly to find unexpected results.
Have fun, be silly, but most of all, get excited about the chance to be creative!