All of us have embarked on a mental journey to find that elusive ‘big idea’ with our creative minds. Unfortunately, many of us have not been successful. Vatsala Chhibber recommends some creative cures for a lack of creative thought
Once upon a time, in a land not-so-far-away, there was a tree called Creativitree. The inhabitants of that town, unaware of the fact that the tree bore magical fruits, admired it only for its beauty. One day, a middle-aged man resting under this tree felt one of its fruit fall on his head (much like Newton in the future). Once he ate this fruit, the man had a sudden urge to capture the beauty of this tree through a painting. Soon, news of his artistic talent spread to neighboring towns and the man gathered fame and recognition for his artistic talent. Suddenly aware of the benefits of Creativitree, people flocked towards it to relish both the taste and results of the tree’s fruits. However, the fruits were well concealed and many disappointed travellers left the town empty-handed. Those who managed to find these fruits flourished as musicians, writers, dancers and artists and attributed their talent to Creativitree.
This story is the result of a creative writing exercise called freewriting (or automatic writing) where one writes without interruption for a period ranging from three to fifteen minutes. Only after you finish writing can you pause to reassess and edit your work. While this exercise is useful for writers, in today’s world it is not just ‘artists’ but also students, entrepreneurs and employees who heavily rely on the fruits of ‘Creativitree’.
How To Foster Creativity Within Yourself
Give yourself a challenge
Imagine a situation where you are asked to come up with a tag line for a chocolate brand. Give yourself 3 minutes to list all the ideas you can come up with. Now start brainstorming for ideas without using any of the ideas you have listed. Sounds challenging? That’s the point.
Studies show that some of the most creative ideas are born out of self-imposed restrictions. While your mind tries to use the easy way out, you need to toss in a hurdle so that your brain is forced to come up with creative solutions.
Suggested exercise: Work within a time limit, a smaller budget or without using the Internet. You might be surprised by the results of these restrictions. Some of the most profound observations have been a result of the 140 characters word limit on Twitter.
Put some new shoes on
The CEO of IDEO, an international design firm, took on the role of the company’s receptionist for a day. Apparently he made this move to increase social interaction because as they say, it gets lonely at the top. This move encouraged his employees to approach him with a suggestion for the company and helped him gain a new perspective into the working of his company.
Suggested exercises: Try something new – take a hula-hooping class, learn ten Chinese phrases, read a chapter of Hitler’s Mein Kampfor try adopting your friend’s schedule for a day. Right outside your comfort zone rests a gold mine of creative ideas.
Find a brainstorming buddy
Solitary brainstorming sessions can be agonising. However, you can turn this agony into creative ecstasy with the help of a brainstorming partner. While selecting this partner, make sure you don’t pick someone whose views are the same as yours. A person who challenges you with their ideas and opinions will help keep your mind on it toes. An important tip for brainstorming sessions is to first think big before working out the details. Stressing about the details at the outset will constrain your creative wandering.
Suggested exercise: Word associations are more effective with a brainstorming buddy. For example, if you are thinking of an online business idea, try a volley match of words. Fashion, shoes, sports, tennis… maybe an online store that sells fashionable sportswear? Avoid shooting down ideas during this session on being too critical as this might discourage your partner from thinking freely.
Opposites attract… creativity
This method involves imagining two opposite and contradictory situations at the same time. This exercise is called ‘Janusian thinking’ and is named after Roman God Janus, who has two heads facing opposite directions. This method of thinking has been implemented by radical thinkers such as Pablo Picasso. Albert Einstein and Louis Pasteur. In fact, Albert Einstein formulated the theory of relativity using the Janusian method (by imagining an object both at rest and in motion at the same time).
Suggested exercises: Imagine two opposite situations such as being a millionaire with no money or making a career with no talent. That’s how the likes of Kim Kardashian probably made their millions: Jansusian thinking. Assuming she is capable of thought, that is.
For a quick shot of creativity try these science approved remedies:
- Work in a coffee shop as the ambient noise boosts creativity
- Listen to classical music
- Exercise for half an hour
- Sit in a park and observe other people
- Spend some quality time daydreaming
Remember, creativity starts within. It is when you start adopting various ways, creativity will flow in.