“All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant’s revolving door.”
– Albert Camus
Whether you want to boost creativity for art, business or personal purposes, these techniques will help give your creativity and your project a kickstart. Choose one, two, or try them all! The magic of creativity is that there is no set process or rule book — it’s about experimenting, adopting a lateral thinking mindset and making an effort to start, no matter how ridiculous or bad you think your ideas are.
1. Combine opposites
Regardless of your reasons for wanting to boost your creativity, combining seemingly random concepts, ideas, words, and things together often produces something entirely original. If you haven’t got long to think up ideas and you have to be original and innovative, combining opposites might work for you. Many artists throughout history have used this technique as a method for creating original pieces. Mona Hatoum is one example.
2. Realize that creativity is a process
Contrary to what many people believe, the whole lightbulb eureka moment often occurs as a result of a long process rather than being something totally out of the blue. If you want to boost your creativity, you can’t expect to be instantly filled with creative ideas. Write your ideas down, play, explore, and more importantly, recognize that creativity is a process that can be continuously developed and expanded.
3. Look at others in your field
I don’t believe in copying someone else’s hard work at all; however, it’s really important to be aware of other artists, designers, or businesses that you like. Ask yourself: What are they doing well? What do I like about it? What can I use as a starting point to develop my own projects? Become an expert in your field and make yourself aware of what others are doing — only then will you be able to spot gaps and different ways of doing things.
4. Don’t get a brainstorm group
Ever read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking? Susan Cain goes into great detail, backed with evidence that suggests that creative brainstorming groups actually hinder creativity, resulting in individuals in the group becoming less creative.
5. Use mind maps
Start with your central theme in the middle; create four sub-themes from the central point and start to expand each sub-theme further using singular words to illustrate your points. This doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s a good way of laying all your thoughts out in some sort of a visual structure you can look at clearly. You’ll also be able to see which areas need developing, changing or removing.
6. Keep a notebook handy
Whether it’s your iPad, notebook or scraps of paper, this one goes without saying. You must write down or draw your thoughts, ideas and concepts, no matter how ridiculous or stupid they might sound. You might find that when you revisit ideas, they’ll trigger new ones you’ll then be able to expand upon.
7. Restrict yourself
Sometimes creativity can be stunted when you’ve got too much to play around with. Try limiting yourself; for example, providing yourself with a theme. Sometimes when people are trying to be more creative they can skim over the surface of lots of different ideas and concepts rather than really choosing to hone in on one.
8. Create obstructions
If you’ve got a spare hour or so, watch The Five Obstructions — it’s a documentary about several filmmakers who give each other obstructions to help boost creativity. You could employ the same technique whether you are an artist or not. The concept is about getting out of your comfort zone and doing things you usually do in different ways by giving yourself obstructions. This forces you not to work in a tried and tested manner. If you’re working in a group, you could write down rules or obstructions on bits of paper then take it in turns to pull ideas out of the hat.
9. Feel free
Exercise and get the endorphins flowing; smile at the little things; laugh more… Contrary to popular belief, being creative isn’t about being depressed and miserable. When you’re happy, you’ll feel freer and more responsive to the world around you, which in return will help to boost your creativity.
10. Let your logical mind rest for a bit
Creativity is hard to pin down; there is no ‘one size fits all’ creativity-boosting rule book. So, when you find yourself cutting ideas off or telling others why something couldn’t possibly work, bite your tongue, because great creative ideas often have a ridiculous, totally illogical beginning. It’s how you respond to the idea that counts.
11. See the world through the eyes of a creative person
“Art is everywhere, except it has to pass through a creative mind.”
— Louise Nevelson
Spend the day capturing the world through a camera, paint spontaneously, dance, write down your observations. Take inspiration from a creative person you admire and imitate what they do for a day to get an idea of how they see the world. Sometimes just a slight shift in outlook can give your creativity a massive boost.
12. Start now
Be a doer and certainly don’t stop yourself before you’ve even started. This one is probably the most important. Do something small each day to help you boost your creativity, even if this means simply writing down your thoughts and ideas. It’ll really help you in the long run. Creativity, after all, is a journey that can take many interesting twists and turns — you have to start it to really reap the results.
Finally, if anyone else has any creativity-boosting ideas, please share them below. I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you’re after further reading, check out lateral thinking author, Edward de Bono.