Creativity: Not Just About Good Ideas

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This is the second post in a series on where I will present strategies, resources, and examples about how to nurture creative thinking.

“Creative skills aren’t just about good ideas, they are about having the skills to make good ideas happen.
E. Paul Torrance

Everyone can develop the skills necessary to be creative no matter what the subject matter or occupation. So, how can creativity get a jump-start? Here are some first steps and resources to assist you with your quest to inspire creativity in yourself and others.

Just some of the ways to measure levels of creativity. This example explores things that are round.

Just some of the ways to measure levels of creativity. This example explores things that are round.

Generate a comfortable environment where ideas are welcome and the censor is silenced. It’s so easy for us all to get mired in that internal dialog that tries to tell us we’re not capable, or that what we have to say isn’t interesting or valid. Having permission to explore without judgment is the first step. It’s the “what-if” stage where, ideally, all possibilities are on the table. I like to think of it like a collage where you lay all of the pieces out to see what inspiration comes by looking at all of the parts.

Play. Once you have a supply of options, it’s time to rearrange, contemplate, elaborate, eliminate, and refine the ideas. This exploration comes from having freedom to see what happens. I think it’s also important to note that, most often, the first idea is NOT the best idea. Keep delving, connecting, and ruminating. The more difficult the task, or prompt, the longer the wait-time required to really come to a conclusion. In fact, sometimes, it helps to give your brain time to decide without your conscious self interfering. (I also know that deadlines are a reality, and can be powerful motivators for decision-making, but I will address that in a later post.)

Some awesome resources I use for the idea-development and refinement stages:

E. Paul Torrence
If you are not familiar with the father of creativity research, then definitely check out this NPR Story about him. He defined the parameters for measuring what characteristics are present in a creative thinker! Super-interesting stuff. There’s also a test to check your levels, though not available to the general public, it’s a taste of the kinds of things you might find on the assessment.

Caffeine for the Creative Mind by Stefan Mumaw and Wendy Lee Oldfield
This website and book series is designed for every person to have fun thinking and playing. From name-your-own-crayons, to photocopy challenges, these short prompts create exercise for your brain.

A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger Von Oech
A series of books and accompanying Whack Pack Cards present strategies for elaborating and reframing ideas. Particularly good when existing ideas seem to be stuck or need a boost. There’s even an app for your smart phone!

Thanks for your time. I hope these ideas and resources are helpful. Get out there and be creative. 

Next week: Creativity and Deadlines

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