10 Steps for Boosting Creativity
by Jeffrey Baumgartner
This article is the first piece I wrote about creativity for the web. It dates back to 1996 and has remained one of the most popular articles on this web site. I've learned a lot about creativity since writing it and I have made two minor changes over the years, but it is still relevant and, I trust, fun.
Johann Sebastian Bach
Listen to music by Johann Sebastian Bach. If Bach doesn't make you more creative, you should probably see your doctor - or your brain surgeon if you are also troubled by headaches, hallucinations or strange urges in the middle of the night.
Sleep. That's when your brain processes information and reorganises all the stuff kicking around in your head. When you wake up, you may surprised by the ideas that burst into your brain!
Always carry a small notebook and a pen or pencil around with you. That way, if you are struck by an idea, you can quickly note it down. Upon rereading your notes, you may discover about 90% of your ideas are daft. Don't worry, that's normal. What's important are the 10% that are brilliant.
If you're stuck for an idea, open a dictionary, randomly select a word and then try to formulate ideas incorporating this word. You'd be surprised how well this works. The concept is based on a simple but little known truth: freedom inhibits creativity. There are nothing like restrictions to get you thinking.
Question your problem. Grab a sheet of paper, electronic notebook, computer or whatever you use to make notes, and question your problem in detail. You'll probably find ideas positively spewing out once you've done this.
If you can't think, go for a walk. A change of atmosphere is good for you and gentle exercise helps shake up the brain cells.
Don't watch TV. Experiments performed by the JPB Creative Laboratory show that watching TV causes your brain to slowly trickle out your ears and/or nose. It's not pretty, but it happens.
Don't do drugs. People on drugs think they are creative. To everyone else, they seem like people on drugs.
Read as much as you can about everything possible. Books exercise your brain, provide inspiration and fill you with information that allows you to make creative connections easily.
Exercise your brain. Brains, like bodies, need exercise to keep fit. If you don't exercise your brain, it will get flabby and useless. Exercise your brain by reading a lot (see above), talking to clever people and disagreeing with people - arguing can be a terrific way to give your brain cells a workout. But note, arguing about politics or film directors is good for you; bickering over who should clean the dishes is not.
You can now buy 10 Steps for Boosting Your Creativity as a Poster!
It is perfect for the office or the home and makes for a terrific gift.
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