I have written 23 books and I am working on book number 24 now. I even wrote a book about creativity. I have often been accused of being a “creative type” (usually accompanied by air quotes of course). A question I always get is this, “Where do you get all those ideas?” I tell them I bought them at the store. Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m just kidding. My real answer is always similar: I just let the wheel spin freely and the ideas just come to me. Where are the ideas? I just know they are there. They are available and abundant. So how can you get and stay more creative?
Tip #1: Observe everything around you. There is a whole world spinning and pulsing around you and that world is full of an endless amount of ideas, just waiting to connect with you. As Steve Jobs once said: “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things”. Watch, observe, read and listen to everything around you wherever you go. I once walked in a downtown area from my hotel to my client’s office. I told them I was amazed by the gargoyles I saw. They had no idea what gargoyles I was talking about. Even though they had worked in that city eight years, they never looked up. They missed some amazing gargoyles just down their street.
Tip #2: Try something brand new. Another way to stimulate your creativity is to try something brand new. Read a magazine you have never read before. Take some kind of class on some topic that is outside of your regular experience and brand new to your life. Take Circus Skills, Karate, Wilderness Survival or Yoga. Travel to somewhere completely different. I once took a fencing class and I was exposed to a world of great strategy and athleticism, which I never knew about or understood. Go to conferences for your profession (or better outside of your profession) to help you get new ideas.
Tip #3: Stop saying you are not creative. Don’t argue with me, you are too creative! Ask your Mom or Dad how creative you were as a child and they will tell you were remarkably creative as a child. You made pirate ships out of cardboard boxes and entire cities with Popsicle sticks and some glue. So my new friend, yes you are creative because you were, and it didn’t go anywhere! You still have it. As Maya Angelou once said: “Everybody born comes from the Creator trailing wisps of glory. We come from the Creator with creativity. I think that each one of us is born with creativity. “She was right, you were born with it. Please stop saying you’re not creative because it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you say you aren’t creative – you give yourself and excuse not to try any more.
Tip #4: Keep a creativity journal. What is a creativity journal? It is just simply a book of ideas. When you get an idea, you simply reach for your handy dandy journal and scribble down an idea. This helps in two ways: 1) It helps you be more creative because you can look at it later to give you more ideas, 2) You capture ideas before you forget them. Idea are like fish, they are slippery and if you don’t contain them somewhere, they will just swim away. Then you can’t remember what they were. You will say, “Dag Nabbbit, I had a great idea last night but I can’t remember what it is now! (I know you will use those exact words.) You don’t need to write in it every day, only when ideas come up. You can also draw items in the book and even glue pictures or images in there. There are no rules; just try it.
Tip #5: Study and read about creativity. Many people say that creativity can’t be taught. If that is true, then why are their art schools, architecture, music and acting schools? I would argue that most creative people I know are always learning new things and studying creative thinking, innovation and ideation. They study creativity techniques (the how to) and study creative people and what makes them “tick”. (Biographies) Studying the life of Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Georgia O’Keefe or George Washington Carver can help boost your creativity. Their ideas can give you new ideas. How about that?