Practice Makes Perfect
When creativity is mentioned, many people think of music, art, writing, photography, etc. and quickly add that they are not creative, which is very limited thinking.
Creativity is part of being human – all you have to do is watch young children play. Their creativity and imagination flow freely. Unfortunately, somewhere along they line children learn to stifle it. As a result, for many adults it has to be re-ignited. They are still creative. That never goes away. All they have to do is start using the creative side of their brains again. It may be a bit sluggish at first, but it will reactivate, I promise.
When your creative thinking is working at full speed, it helps with every aspect of life – especially problem solving.
One of the best ways to re-activate and exercise your creative thinking skills is to brainstorm.
Brainstorming is usually associated with business meetings – not as a tool for honing your creativity. You may have been involved in one of those terrible meetings where everyone shouts out ideas and someone jots them down on a whiteboard only to erase them later for being unusable. Brainstorming does not have to be that way. In fact, it can be excellent tool for enlivening your creative side.
Those awful “brainstorming” business sessions did have it partially right. No judgment or self-criticism was allowed. That is also part of the brainstorming we are going to explore. No negative comments about your creativity (I don’t have a creative bone in my body) or brainstorming (I don’t know how to brainstorm) or both. For brainstorming to be effective, you have to let go of negative thinking. If you hang onto to those thoughts, you will be working with a closed mind and your thinking process will be muddied. When you are relaxed and free from all negative thoughts, you can begin.
Set out a big, clean piece of paper and pen (that works) and get ready to draw. You are going to draw a simple mind map. A good way to start is to draw a big circle in the center of the page and connect smaller circles to that. The big circle will be your focal point (for example, a problem you currently have). All the little circles connected to that one are going to be the different ideas/solutions for solving the problem.
Not a fan of mind maps? Try just making a big list of ideas. Some people call this a “brain dump” and it works exactly the same way as a mind map. The idea is to get as many ideas out of your head and on to the paper as possible. Don’t think about whether a specific solution will work, just write it down. You will go back later and refine them.
Experiment using a timer. Set your kitchen timer for five minutes and get as many thoughts and ideas down on paper as possible. This race against the clock can help you stop negative thinking and focus on quantity instead.
Do not spend a lot of time on this process. When brainstorming, you want to do it fairly quickly and generate as many different ideas as you can within a short period of time. Once you have completed the brainstorming picture (mind map or whatever form you choose to use), narrow down the list to the top two or three ideas that you think will work best.
Brainstorming improves creativity and the more you do it, the easier it will be for your creative side to come out and that is, of course, the goal. So, set aside some time daily (it doesn’t have to be a large chunk of time), 10-15 minutes each day will help you develop your creativity.
Have fun and enjoy the results!