I’m a firm believer that everyone is creative and that creativity occurs in all aspects of our lives. For me running my business is as creative as painting. If there’s a problem that needs a solution then that’s an opportunity for creativity. Creativity is a muscle that needs to be worked out regularly and there are times when it’s difficult to come up with an idea, let alone more that one.
Before we start trying to create ideas I thought it would be good to have a definition. According to James Webb Young
1. an idea is nothing more or less than a new combination of old elements.
2. the capacity to bring odd elements into new combinations depending largely on the ability to see the new relationship.
So here are the 5 steps to becoming a genius inventor of ideas that help me.
1. Find your elements. This is the fun part. For ideas to come out of your brain you need to put things in it. Here are some suggestions of how to do that: read anything and everything that takes your fancy, watch movies, videos, fabulous TV programmes, listen to music, browse websites, blogs, look at Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, watch Ted talks, go to art galleries, museums, magic shows, anything that interests you and, this is really important, occasionally do something that you wouldn't normally do. It's really good for us to get out of our comfort zone as it allows our brains to change perspective and jolt them out of their usual ruts. Also don't forget to just stop sometimes and daydream.
2. Collect your elements in an accessible place. This can be in a scrapbook, notebook, a website like Pinterest, scraps of paper that you keep in a folder. Anything really, as long as you get it down. Creative people are constantly gathering and recording. They are noticing and collecting stuff/things/titbits/images/words/weird thoughts all the time. They never turn off. They are always looking. And they know that the most important part is the recording. They know they will forget. They have all experienced that mind numbing feeling of having lost a fantastic idea because they didn't write it down. Even if they don't know if what they are recording is useful right now, they know it could be exactly what they need in the future to create an idea. They also don't worry to much about what it looks like when they record it. Just as long as it will jog the memory.
3. Start working on creating ideas. Ok so this is where the big stuff happens and for lots of people this can be the scary bit. Set aside some time and it can be helpful to get out of your usual environment. What you want is for your subconscious to take over, so try to relax and think of this as playtime. Have a look at your elements and take note of whatever weird thoughts your brain comes up with, then get them down. Maybe for you the getting down is doodling or writing random words, or mind mapping. Most important is to let the brain wander. This is not a time to get hung up about details or the look of something. Even if an idea seems silly, get it down. It may led you to think of something else that is fantastic.
When this stage is going brilliantly for me it feels like a door has opened in my brain. Images and ideas are wandering out of it and my job is to simply write them down.
4. If you're stuck - move. If you're still siting there with a blank screen/paper/mind get up and start moving or doing a repetitive task. When your brain is engaged in a repetitive task the subconscious is able to get to work. I find a walk works a treat for me, usually about 20 paces from the house I'm having to pull out my notebook. Showers, gardening, exercise of any sort, doing the dishing, in fact housework in general are all helpful.
5. Don't stop. When you do get an idea don't stop. Keep going. Firstly it's really good practise and secondary maybe it's going to be you 6th or 10th or 20th idea that is the brilliant one. The wonderful thing I have found is the more you train your brain to think up ideas the more it will start creating them. They will begin to bubble up out of you and you will find yourself reaching for a pen and paper in the oddest places.
6. Bonus step- believe in yourself. Corny as it sounds you need to believe you can be a genius inventor of idea to be one. if you are telling yourself 'I'm not very good at coming up with ideas' then your brain, the source of ideas, is listening to what you're saying and acting accordingly. Humans are the most creative creatures on the planet so it goes without saying if you are human you are creative.
If you're interest, this is a fabulous Ted talk on creativity from Liz Gilbert.