Larry Kim wrote a very direct and useful guide for ways in which to increase your creativity. Essentially, he reminds us that the brain is a muscle. Ergo, treat it like your bis, tris, delts, quads, etc. Work it out on a daily basis and aim to make it stronger by constantly pushing it to its limits.
His piece is directed as much at artists as it is at scientists and business people. You can read the full article here, but I’ll summarize his nine points below.
1. Learn through Collaboration
Talk to and learn from others, especially when you get stuck being innovative and creative. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it also leads to creativity.
2. Do Something You Love
As Einstein once wrote to his son about playing the piano, “That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes.”
Love and creativity are one and the same.
3. Find Inspiration from Other Industries
Don’t imitate, innovate. Finding that elusive je ne sais quoi can sometimes be found in a completely different field or area of industry.
4. Unplug (Or Just Do Nothing)
Bestselling author Alan Cohen (Why Your Life Sucks) once wrote, “There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.”
Research shows that walking heightens creativity. Stephen King has long known that (which is also how he got hit by a car and nearly died), but today major business leaders will hold “walking meetings” because they realize the value of this simple yet healthy way to flex that muscle between your ears.
6. Set the Right Mood
Listen to music. Personally, I listen to music when I write, edit, translate, send emails or do anything connected to work.
As the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once said, “The inexpressible depth of music, so easy to understand and yet so inexplicable, is due to the fact that it reproduces all the emotions of our innermost being, but entirely without reality and remote from its pain… Music expresses only the quintessence of life and its events, never these themselves.”
7. Use the Six Thinking Hats Technique
As Larry Kim put it, “Sometimes you just need to start over. Forget everything and begin anew with a blank slate — break it down using six different colored ‘thinking hats’.
Using this process could help you look at things in a different way. It gives you the option to look at things in a “just the facts” manner (white hat); where things could go wrong (black hat); and possibilities, alternatives, and new ideas (green hat), for example.”
8. Ask For Advice or Feedback
Ditch the insecurity. If you’re insulted or scared to ask for advice or suggestions from peers/friends/colleagues/family members, follow Australian comedian Chopper Reid’s advice and harden the **** up.
9. Pick a Terrible Idea
Larry Kim explains: “Step away from whatever idea you’re stuck on for a few minutes. What’s the most useless idea you can imagine? Make a list of the worst ideas you can think up.
Now the real challenge to stretch your creativity: What are the best features of these terrible ideas?”