27. October 2015 · Comments Off on Tricks for Kickstarting Your Creativity · Categories: creativity · Tags: ,

1. Try free writing. Just start writing whatever is in your head, even if it doesn’t make sense or isn’t grammatically correct. You can unlock ideas and associations with a simple brain dump.

2. Sing in the shower. This is an easy way to get outside of your comfort zone, right in your own home. Experimenting with any kind of creative expression can help unlock creative barriers.

3. Drink coffee. For a quick boost (and an excuse to walk away from your desk and open your mind), a cup of coffee can offer a bit of the focus you need to connect big ideas. At the very least, it’ll help with your productivity. If you want some science and facts to back this up, head over to Creative Something and read up!

4. Practice. Malcolm Gladwell says you have to practice anything at least 10,000 hours before you can become a professional. So, get crackin’.

5. Make mistakes. Sometime you have to fail to stumble upon greatness. Don’t let those mistakes scare you away from trying something new. Also, if you’re not making mistakes, chances are you aren’t really exploring and you aren’t really learning. Mistakes are the bomb and part of your journey.

6. Read the dictionary. If you’re a writer, spending some time with the dictionary is a great way to expand your vocabulary and learn something new. And get this: You don’t even have to be a writer to appreciate all the new thoughts a few random words might trigger.

7. Write down your ideas. Simply jotting down the random ideas that pop into your head can help drive new ideas. Or, if your memory is terrible, it’ll help you hold onto the ideas you already have.

25. October 2015 · Comments Off on 12 Things Incredibly Creative Minds Do Differently · Categories: creativity · Tags: , , ,

1. They are always learning.

Incredibly creative minds are always learning. They see every day as an opportunity to learn something new, whether it be learning about a different culture, a new artistic technique or simply a new fact. Creative minds are eager to learn, with this being one of the most notable habits of creative people.

2. They see every failure as one step closer to success.
Creative minds view failure for what it truly is, an opportunity to learn and grow. When you’re doing creative work failure is part of the game, it’s inevitable but it doesn’t need to break you. Creative minds are always ready to dust themselves off and try again, seeing every failure they have as just one step closer to success. Famous author Stephen King received 30 rejections for his first book Carrie before finally being published, he like many other famous creators, simply didn’t give up. He kept on trying until he was successful seeing every failure as one step closer.

3. They indulge in daydreaming
Creative minds indulge in their daydreams because they understand the power of the mind when it wanders. When the mind is not actively working on solving specific problems or completing a set task it is free to imagine, create and dream big. The most amazing creative minds know the power of this and indulge in daydreaming wherever possible.

4. They are intensely curious.
The most incredible creative minds are intensely curious about the world around them. They are interested in how things work and why. This curiosity encourages them to learn, investigate and constantly seek out new and novel ideas that spark their minds and help them do their very best work.

5. They connect the dots.
Steve Jobs once said creativity is all about connecting the dots, and he’s right. It’s about connecting seemingly disparate ideas and crafting something new with them. Creative minds know this well and use it to their advantage by bringing together a multitude of different inspirations to create something truly amazing.

6. They tap into the power of collaboration.
Great creative minds understand the power of collaboration and they aren’t afraid to tap into it. When two creative minds come together new ideas emerge, meld and surface with the potential to birth amazing things into the world.

Designers and artists understand the power of collaboration well, for example designer Yves Saint Laurent and artist Andy Warhol who collaborated in 1974 to create some amazing silk screen portraits or the 2008 collaboration of architect Zaha Hadid and design house Chanel that resulted in the creation of the mobile Chanel Pavilion Gallery that traveled the world.

7. They ask the big questions.
Incredibly creative minds get big answers because they ask the big questions. They aren’t afraid to dream big and they don’t limit themselves to the bounds of what they know or what’s been done before. By asking the big questions incredibly creative minds dive deep and are able to get to the heart of the issue at play.

8. They understand the power of saying no.
Creative minds deeply understand the power of saying no. Not every opportunity is the right one and there is never time to do absolutely everything. By saying no to some things incredibly creative minds carefully curate what they allow into their lives and make more time and head space for their most important projects.

9. They take time out when they need it.
The best creative minds know that burnout is real and that sometimes the mind just needs a little time out to relax, rejuvenate and be ready to create again. By taking time out the best creative minds are on the ball and ready to make big things when it matters most.

10. They seek out new experiences.
Incredibly creative minds are always seeking out new experiences. They are open to doing and seeing new things because they know that within these new experiences is the inspiration and perspective they need to create their best work.

11. They are always open to new ways of expressing themselves.
The most creative minds don’t restrict themselves to one medium or way of creating. Instead they are always open to new ways of expressing themselves. Some of the greatest creators of all time have been prolific in their multitude of creative expressions. One of the best examples is Leonardo da Vinci who was a painter, sculptor, mathematician, inventor, architect and musician (to name just a few of his many creative expressions!).

12. They follow their true passions.
Perhaps most importantly of all, incredibly creative minds follow their true passions. They understand the power of doing something they believe in wholeheartedly and are not afraid to chase after their true dreams. Indeed, following true passions is one of the cornerstone habits of creative people. Even when the going gets tough the best creative minds stick to what they believe in and love because it is what drives them.

16. October 2015 · Comments Off on 10 Signs You Are A Creative Person · Categories: creativity · Tags: , , ,

1. You’re responsibly irresponsible.
It’s not smart to act immature, but you take chances when you need to. You don’t live a life shackled to “should be’s”, “would be’s”, and “coulda beens”. This can be expressed in buying your first home or car, sending in a job application for a position you’re under qualified for but really want, or treating your friends to a dinner on you when you don’t have a ton of money. Creativity takes guts.

2. You understand the important difference between imagination and reality.
Edgar Allen Poe once famously said, “Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things that escape those who dream only at night.” Edgar was on to something then that you’re probably doing each day – imagining the ideal world you want. You’re able to take those fantasies, evaluate them, and put them into action taking the necessary steps to get there. But, as always, balance between these two is absolutely vital.

3. Your heart’s on your sleeve and your soul’s on your forehead.
Creatives are very open with their emotions, which leaves them susceptible to both tremendous pain and euphoric bliss. You are not unlike this. When you’re frustrated with your children, your best friend can tell when you get tea that afternoon. You just received your 15th rejection letter on your masterpiece manuscript and your wife knows it the second you put down the letter. Creative people are not afraid of their emotions, no matter if they are negative or positive.

4. You can admit it’s not your best work, but you’ll never say it “sucks.”
I belong to an artistic collective who’s mantra is, “There’s no such thing as bad art.” Though we strongly believe that, each of us are able to recognize when our output or the outcome of our vision is not exactly intended. However, you, like us, are able to accept and appreciate the fact that whatever you just created was not in the world before you made it. And sometimes that’s more than adequate. Eleanor Roosevelt put it best, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

5. You observe everything. Eve-ry-thing.
The world is a huge dinner party, buzzing with gossip, eccentric characters, and the perfect fodder for creation of all kinds. Though many creatives carry around a pocket, purse, or backpack sized notebook, this is not necessary. Your brain is a steel trap and your conscious is a straightjacket. Mental note it, and get busy.

6. You don’t wait for opportunities, you create it.
Stagnation is something that all creative people hate, and you are no different. The “routine,” the “grind,” and the “day to day” is never the same for too long in your world. If you feel it becoming that, you quickly seek out new sensations, feelings, people, and experiences to keep it fresh. If you don’t know where to look start wandering. Eventually, you’ll find and create the opportunities you’re looking for.

7. You “fail forward.”
Eric Thomas has encouraged his millions of YouTube listeners to do exactly what’s in the title quotations. When you succumb to failure, you don’t stay down for long. Instead you look for ways to learn, grow, and continue forward. Creative people don’t let their downfalls get the best of them.

8. Your risk is worth your rewards.
Creative people are by definition extremely bold. Your actions and plans are easily justifiable because they are normally in accordance to what you believe in. Any time you’re confronted with something that has a somewhat likelihood of backfiring, you don’t run away. You run towards it. Creation, the act of making something from absolutely nothing, is one gigantic risk. Nothing more, nothing less. Forbes contributor Steven Kotler adds,”This is not a job for the timid. Time wasted, reputation tarnished, money not well spent – these are all by-products of creativity gone awry.”

9. You immerse yourself in beauty and talent.
A lot of creatives have a knack for beauty, even if it’s peculiar and unique to their style. You’re no different. From your writing group to your children and the way you decorate your house, you blanket yourself in the things you love. No matter who thinks what about your space and choices, you stay true to what you’re about.

10. You chase dreams and live your passions. Period.
No two ways about it, creatives are generally happy and content with nothing but producing quality work. Definitions and standards of brilliance are self defined, and you realize that. You’re the graceful angel taking tango lessons. You’re the old man at the gym dropping NBA caliber dimes and hitting 35 foot three pointers. You’re that really cute old lady posted at the coffee shop piano who I really want to give my number to for convorsational purposes only. Your drive to perform, compete, and produce is intrinsic. So is the true reward.

10. October 2015 · Comments Off on 10 Tips for Unleashing Your Creativity at Work · Categories: creativity

download (5)1. Get visual. Regardless of your role, industry or responsibilities, visualizing data and ideas is an incredibly powerful tool to get your team thinking. Get off the phone, go in a room together (a virtual room will work, too) and use a whiteboard until your hand hurts.

2. Throw out the rule book. The next time you get your team together to brainstorm, create and enforce a “no holds barred” idea session. Nothing is off the table; nothing is outside the realm of possibility. Avoid words and phrases like “but,” “how would we” and “we can’t.” If necessary, designate someone to police those phrases and keep everyone honest.

3. Work backward. Figure the goal or ideal scenario 10 to 15 years down the road. Start there and work your way backward. Don’t worry about the “how.” Focus on the “what.” Your road map will literally unfold itself.

4. Make a game of it. At the start of your next meeting try a game to get the creative juices flowing. Have everyone write a random idea down, crumple it up and toss it onto the center of the table. Pick one idea at random and build it out. Or switch roles. Ask those assembled, “If you were me, how would you tackle this problem?”

5. Write down absolutely everything. No thought is too small, and no idea is too “out there.” Anything can potentially have value to your business. You never know what word or phrase is going to spark the next word or phrase, which could then lead to your next big idea. Get it all down on paper. Find somewhere prominent to keep ideas displayed, such as an idea board or whiteboard.

6. Take mental breaks. A lot of business leaders view social media and other distraction sites as time-wasters, instead of recognizing them for what they really are: mental breaks. It’s practically impossible to nurture creativity in a tired, burned-out brain. Encouraging mental breaks is the key to developing employees’ creative side and boosting morale.

7. Take a trip to happy hour. We tend to spend our workdays chained to our coffee mugs. But did you know that a little bit of alcohol can help with brainstorming too? A single beer can relax your brain, making you less focused on the negatives, and less likely to squash your good ideas. The next time you need a good brainstorm, find the nearest happy hour and get to work.

8. Get physical. Engaging in a physical activity can help unlock your creative mind, particularly if your job is primarily sedentary. Go outside for a run, walk, bike ride or whatever activity suits you. (I’m a motocross guy, myself.) This will relax your mind, and afterward you can attack a problem or idea with a fresh brain. Inspiration might even strike mid-stride.

9. Play to your strengths. It’s a common misconception that creativity exists only in people with specifically “creative” roles and skills and that the more analytical among us are too dull and logical. In fact, any skill can be used creatively. Are you an Excel wizard? Throw your ideas into a spreadsheet to categorize and dissect them and watch the brainstorm develop.

10. Get the words out. The hardest part of any brainstorming session, alone or in a group, is getting the ball rolling. The easiest solution? Just talk. Or write. Start getting words out or down on paper, even if they’re borderline nonsensical at first. It’s all about getting over that initial hurdle, so the ideas can start flowing.

08. October 2015 · Comments Off on 25 Ways to Be More Creative · Categories: creativity · Tags: , , ,

Here, then, are 25 ways to help you be more creative.

1. Simply begin. Creativity is there all the time. You need to begin, and then inspiration will come to you. When you’re cranky, when all you can think about are all the things on your to do list that need to get done, when you feel that you’re just not “in the mood” to create, when your inner critic tries to dissuade you from even trying, do it anyway.

When Michael Mikalko–author of “Cracking Creativity”–has writer’s block, he simply sits down and writes, “O, lend me to some peaceful gloom,” over and over until his own thoughts and words come. Then he just keeps going.

2. Remember there is more than one right answer. Consider the high school science exam where one question was: “How can you determine the height of a building using a barometer?”

Most students, after recalling the teacher’s lecture on this subject, gave the answer, “Measure the atmospheric pressure at the top of the building, measure it at the bottom of the building, note the difference, and then calculate the height.”

Two students were marked wrong for their answers. One responded, “Take the barometer to the top of the building, throw it off the roof, time how long it takes until you hear a crash, and then use the acceleration-through-space formula to calculate the distance it traveled.” That answer was not what the teacher was expecting; but it works.

Another student answered that he would find the owner of the building and offer him the barometer in exchange for being told the height of the building. This answer would also have worked.

3. Watch “The Three Stooges”. Laughing has been shown to help people think more broadly, associate freely, and notice complex relationships. One study found that people who had just watched a video of television bloopers were better at solving a puzzle long used by psychologists to test creative thinking.

Edward de Bono writes about humor in his book, “I am Right, You are Wrong”. He explains that humor is based on a logic very different from traditional logic. The significance of humor is that it indicates pattern-forming, pattern asymmetry and pattern-switching. Therefore, humor has the same basis as creativity and lateral thinking.

4. Combine. Combine ideas in a unique way; look for relationships between disparate things; make useful associations among ideas; look afresh at what you normally take for granted. Here are two examples:

Wheels + gym shoe = roller skates
TV + Music = MTV.
As Thomas Disch once said, “Creativity is the ability to see relationships where none existed.”

5. Change perspectives. Look at your topic from many different perspectives. How would a mystic approach this idea? How would a rocket scientist look at this? What would a child do? What would a very old person do? What would a really lazy person do? What would Donald Trump do?

6. Be curious about everything. You never know when random, seemingly unrelated ideas will come together to form a new idea. Here’s a quote from Carl Ally:

“The creative person wants to be a know-it-all. He wants to know about all kinds of things-ancient history, nineteenth century mathematics, current manufacturing techniques, hog futures. Because he never knows when these ideas might come together to form a new idea. It may happen six minutes later, or six months, or six years. But he has faith that it will happen.”

7. Drench Yourself In Creativity. Go to museums and gallery openings. Go to the symphony and to rock concerts. Read great works of literature. Go to poetry readings.

8. Challenge your assumptions. A fat, round watermelon takes up a lot of room. Instead of just assuming that watermelons had to be round, Japanese farmers began inserting melons in square glass cases while they were still growing on the vine.

The end result was a square watermelon which fits conveniently in the refrigerators in which they’re transported. What assumptions are you making that are stopping you from finding a solution to your problem?

9. Play Baroque Music. Baroque music-such as Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” and Pachbel’s “Canon”-has been shown to synchronize brain waves at about 60 cycles per second, a frequency associated with increased alpha waves. In turn, alpha is a frequency of mind associated with enhanced creativity.

10. Exaggerate. What if you were a thousand times smarter? What if you were two inches tall? Make the colors brighter. Now see it in black and white.

11. Shift gears. Take time off and put together a jigsaw puzzle. Follow Einstein’s advice: take a nap. Isaac Asimov was quoted as saying that when he got stuck writing a book he would simply put the project aside and start writing a completely different book.

Seymour Cray, the legendary designer of high-speed computers, used to divide his time between building the next generation super computer and digging an underground tunnel below his Chippewa Falls house. Thomas Edison, a man with over 1,000 patents to his credit, would go down to the dock and fish. Ray Bradbury would go for a bike ride.

12. Look to nature. Are there any analogies you can draw from nature? Velcro was inspired by nature. The Swiss Georges de Mestral, inventor of Velcro, noticed how the sticky seed heads of burdock plants attached themselves to his pants and to his dog after walks in the woods. This observation led him to invent the product now called Velcro in 1948.

13. Avoid crowds. Take Hugh MacLeod’s advice: don’t try to stand out from the crowd. Instead, avoid crowds altogether. Mad Magazine’s Al Jaffee conceived of his comic strip “Tall Tales” while going through a difficult time financially.

Jaffee managed to break into the business of syndicated comics by doing something different than what everybody else was doing: rather than drawing a traditional horizontal strip that would compete with the existing material, he opted for a seven-inch-tall vertical strip, which gave editors a lot more flexibility as to where in the paper the strip would run. (Source).

What can you do that is different from what everyone else is doing?

14. Wake up your right brain. The right brain is your creativity center. Because the right brain hemisphere controls the left side of your body, you can activate this creativity center by breathing out of only your left nostril, jumping up and down on your left foot, and writing with your left hand.

You can also wake up the right side of the brain by doing something artistic such as drawing, playing a musical instrument, creating mandalas, and so on. In addition, meditation stimulates the right brain hemisphere.

15. Use the Random Word Technique. Start by writing down a description of your problem, challenge or opportunity. Then, choose a random word–you can open a dictionary and choose the first word your eyes focus on–and write down any associations that it makes you think of. After jotting down a number of words or short phrases, review your associations and your problem statement, and determine if you could adapt any of your associations to your current problem.

16. Create a mindmap. Write a topic heading in the center of a white piece of paper and then start writing related ideas on branches linked to the main topic; then add more ideas as sub-branches. Create as many levels of ideas as you want. Use different colors and add illustrations.

17. Disrupt your habitual thought patterns. Take a different route to work, try food you’ve never eaten before, listen to a music genre you normally don’t listen to, read different magazines, and so on. Explore something new, try something you’ve always wondered about.

18. Re-connect with your inner child. Buy crayons and a coloring book-the big thick kind filled with all kinds of images that you loved as a child–and sit down for an afternoon of coloring. It’s OK if you color outside the lines. Play jacks, draw with chalk on the sidewalk, build a fortress, go to the playground and climb on the swings . . .

19. Break it down. Break a problem down into it’s smallest components and rebuild it from the ground up, questioning at every step whether that’s the best way to do it.

20. Ask lots of questions. Constantly ask: “What if . . .”; “Why not . . .”; “How else can this be done?”; “How can this be improved?”; “What other alternatives are there?”; “What am I missing?”

21. Focus. Great creative breakthroughs usually happen only after we have focused sufficient attention on our subject matter. That is, AHA! moments normally come only after much intense conscious effort.

In 1816, Mary Shelley spent the summer with her husband–the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Shelley–, the poet Lord Byron, and others in Switzerland. It was raining a lot, so they would entertain themselves by reading ghost stories. Then, they decided that they would each write a horror story and share it with the others.

Mary spent her days trying to think up of a horror story to share with the group. Then, in a waking dream, the idea for Frankenstein came to her. That is, although the idea for Frankenstein came to Mary in a flash, it came to her as a result of focusing intently on trying to think up of a horror story.

22. Set a quantity quota. Instead of telling yourself that you’re going to find a solution to a problem, tell yourself that you have to come up with 100 possible solutions. That is, emphasize quantity over quality. This allows your inner perfectionist to relax and to allow the ideas to flow.

23. Make it visual. Learn to draw, even if it’s very rudimentary sketches. Use Betty Edwards’ book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” to teach yourself to draw.

24. Practice being in a receptive state of mind. Instead of constantly having the television on, listening to your iPod, and surrounding yourself with noise and other distractions, practice being in a relaxed, contemplative state of mind. This state of mind is the one most conducive to allowing creative thoughts to slip into your mind.

25. Avoid Disruptions. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to enter your creative zone when you’re constantly being interrupted. Jonathan Franzen wrote his 2001 novel “The Corrections” at times wearing earplugs, earmuffs and a blindfold. That might be too extreme for most of us, but at the very least try to find a quiet place, turn off your cell phone and other communications devices, and then get to work.

01. October 2015 · Comments Off on 30 Tips to Rejuvenate Your Creativity · Categories: creativity · Tags:

Recently, we asked the readers what their tips for staying creative were. Sometimes creativity flows from the heavens, but other times, as we all know, it’s like drawing water from a stone. The following are the best tips you gave us.

1. Surround yourself with creative people. Hang out with writers, musicians, poets and artists. Often, just being in a creative environment will inspire you and refresh your creative mind.

2. Start somewhere. If you create a load of crap for a few pages, whether it’s creative writing in Word or sheet music, the brain loosens up and it’s easier to break through the barrier and come up with ideas.

3. Expose yourself. Not after too much vodka. Expose yourself to new art – books, music, paintings – all the time. If you’re a rocker, listen to funk. If you’re a crime writer, read fantasy. If you’re a productivity writer, read something about slacking off.

4. Develop a “morning ritual” that puts you in the zone – whether it’s stream-of-consciousness such as in tip 2, or a series of non-spectacular everyday actions in sequence that tell your brain it’s time to get in the zone. Perhaps you drink a coffee while watching the news before going for a morning walk – if you repeat the same actions before doing creative work for long enough, it eventually creates an association that tells the mind to get in a particular zone.

5. Use GTD techniques – free up your mind from the hassles of life by doing an info-dump so your head is clear enough to create instead of worry.

6. Never stop learning.

7. Imitate the real world – find beauty (or the ugly, depending on what inspires you) and try to extract the essence of it into your work. This may lead you to what you need to create, or it may just warm up the muse.

8. Drink too much coffee sometimes (one of my favorite submissions).

9. Do something new. Play chess. Read a book if you watch television and watch television if you read. Go outside. Sing in the shower.

10. Don’t be too precious about your work. Being inspired by ‘the muse’ is important, but if the doctor and the garbage man can do their jobs every day, then those in a creative line of work can too. Change your attitude towards your work.

11. Based on the theory that everything that can be created has been and creation is simply a process of combining existing ideas, consume information by the bucket load. The more you know, the more you can create from that knowledge.

12. Meet new people from different walks of life. Gain insight into their perspectives on life. Strike up a conversation on the bus.

13. Shut out the world. Instead of sucking in new information, sit quietly, go to sleep, or meditate. Stop thinking and clear your mind so that the clutter doesn’t get in the way of your thoughts.

14. Carry a camera with you and look for interesting things in your every day scenery. Hadn’t noticed that crack in the path before? Then it’ll do. Set a quota and force yourself to make it. Don’t go to new places to do this – force yourself to find new perspectives on old knowledge.

15. Creativity is a muscle. Exercise it daily – if you only need to create once a week, your muscles may have atrophied if you don’t do it just because you don’t have to.

16. Carry a notebook everywhere. Or a PDA.

17. Write down a list of ideas and draw random arrows between them. For instance, if you’re a blogger, write down everything in your Categories list and draw lines to connect unusual ideas. If you had the categories “Relationships” and “Management” and randomly connected them you’d have an interesting article idea to work with.

18. If you’re not on a tight deadline, walk away and do something completely unrelated. Don’t let yourself spend that time stressing about what you need to do.

19. Create a framework. As many writers have said, the blank page can be the biggest show-stopper. Instead of trying to rely on pure inspiration, set your topic or theme and start creating within confines. Think within the box you create for yourself.

20. Remove obstacles to creativity. That friend who calls to complain about their life can wait until you can afford to get stressed about their problems.

21. Don’t judge your ideas until you have plenty to judge. Don’t be embarrassed by yourself – just write them all down! Even if you start with “pink polka-dotted lizard.”

22. Keep a journal. It can get your mind working, and in a month, or a year, when you’ve gained some distance from what you’ve written it can give you new ideas.

23. Stop telling yourself you’re not creative. If you tell yourself not to come up with ideas, then you probably won’t – no matter how hard you try.

24. Don’t be a workaholic – take breaks. Your mind needs a chance to wind down so it doesn’t overheat and crash.

25. Experiment randomly. What does a flanger sound like on a vocal track? Like Lenny Kravitz, of course.

26. Treat creativity like an enemy in a strategy game; if one thing isn’t working, don’t keep trying until you give up. Try a new strategy. Run through the whole list, not just the first tip.

27. Choose a topic and write about it as wonderfully or badly as you possibly can. Then edit it as ruthlessly as a newspaper editor who has thousands of words to edit in the next hour and doesn’t care what gets lost in the process. At the end you might have something decent to use as a starting point.

28. Trash what you’re working on. Start again.

29. Exercise every day, before you sit down to be creative. If you exercise afterwards you’ll get the creative burst – just too late.

30. Spend time with your children. Or someone else’s.