3 Easy Ways to Expand Your Creativity

boost creativity

Imagination is more important than knowledge. – Albert Einstein

Remember when you were little and the best gift of all was a large cardboard box?

That box could be anything from a small family home to the vanguard of an intergalactic attack fleet. With a few hastily drawn lines in permanent marker — and a wild imagination — we could go anywhere and be anything.

If you were given an empty box to play with today, would you find as many fascinating uses as you could back then?

As adults we tend to keep our imaginations locked in tightly controlled boxes — in case of emergency break glass.

We even schedule “brainstorms” as if it’s only appropriate to free our minds at a given time and in a specific environment. Are we afraid of what might happen if our imaginations come unglued?

It is only by being creative that we can create anything remarkable.

Like our writing muscles, our imaginations need regular attention and exercise if they are to serve us well. It’s so easy to get stuck on rails, doing what we always do, thinking the way we always think, producing what we always produce. Occasionally we need to break out of the norm and expand our repertoire, think differently, and keep our imaginations well-oiled.

Next time you need to create something new and original, try these creativity-boosting techniques:

  1. Connect the Dots

    Find connections between seemingly unrelated concepts such as a cardboard box and copywriting.

  2. Change Your Perspective

    Put yourself on the other side of an argument, or imagine yourself as a spectator. Even more wild, what would the world be like from the perspective of a small child, or even a paper clip?

  3. Switch Modality

    If you tend towards the visual, attempt to think in terms of words and feelings. Writers habitually emphasize words so grab some crayons and draw instead. Logical left-brain people might spend time daydreaming to gain a fresh perspective, while intuitive right-brain people might try to solve a complex puzzle.

When you challenge yourself to use your brain in an unusual way, those creative juices truly start flowing. And it’s usually then that you arrive at an insight that has real potential.

What methods do you use to begin a creative project? Join us on LinkedIn to talk about them.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on August 7, 2007

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Reader Comments (42)

  1. says

    Great tips. Personally, a lot of my writing ideas come to me while I’m jogging. It’s a great way to really focus on a subject and be creative. Plus, it helps to distract you from how tired you may be!

  2. says

    Good tips. I can see how these fit into other things you have posted about recently. I just wrote about this on m blog with some additional thoughts. BTW. I’m already seeing some elements on your blog I need to put on mine like the sentance about comments above, related articles, etc.

  3. says

    Stand out from the crowd, do things that nobody has done because it would take a long time but spend time doing them because YOU would be interested in the results and you certainly won’t be the only one.

  4. says

    Those are some great tips! Writing is very much a mental activity and one can get themselves stuck just by thinking about it too much.

    My blog is geared toward writers and other literary types. I always encourage people not to wait for inspiration. Just write! If we waited to get “inspired”, nothing would ever get down. Here’s my specific post on the subject:

    (Sorry for the shameless promotion)

  5. says

    I like the idea of switching perspective, or changing your assumptions. It’s important not to limit yourself as you don’t know from what crazy idea that big insight might come.

  6. says

    This is exactly the kind of thing that fascinates me – innovative content.

    A lot of what I write about is suggesting new ways people can be innovative with their web content. In some ways I have to be innovative for them — thinking of new forms of content other people can benefit from.

    A lot of my inspiration comes from content that already exists. I ask ‘What if’ and ‘I wonder’ questions. What if… Nike blogged? What if… people hand-wrote a post, and published it as an image?

    I guess a lot of my own creativity comes from thinking about what is already there in new ways.

  7. says

    I’m an artist and I find all I learned in art school, in terms of brain-storming, planning and execution, is good for all fields in life. One of my favorite writers on this subject is the man who coined the phrase “lateral thinking”, Edward de Bono. Look him up at Amazon:)

  8. says

    “What methods do you use to begin a creative project?”

    Well, my whole blog is dedicated to this concept. I agree with your approached for sure. Another one I might add is varying what you read. I sometimes go to the library specifically to pick up a relatively short book I’ve never heard of from an author with whom I’m not familiar.

    This usually changes my frame of mind enough to get the juices flowing in my own writing and I can do it while away from the computer.

  9. says

    Michael Michalko’s book Thinkertoys is full of these little games to get your brain working, and get the synapses firing. Most people don’t realize you can learn to be creative.

  10. Buddy F Wachenheimer says

    FYI—A must read on the subject

    ‘100 Ways to Kill a Concept: Why Most Ideas Get Shot Down’ written by Michael Iva is a painfully funny and uniquely insightful manifesto, full of creativity tips and idea solicitation principles that can show you how to CREATE better concepts and then SELL your concepts easier, so more of your concepts can survive and prosper. You will find that it is very helpful in pursing your career activities.

    DOWN LOAD your FREE PDF copy for your files and reference here http://www.changethis.com/32.04.100WaysKillConcept

    If you found it as helpful as I did, pass the word to your friends, so they can benefit from it too, here http://www.changethis.com/32.04.100WaysKillConcept/email

    In life, we get by giving.


  11. says

    That Einstein quote is my favorite. I like the next part of it as well:

    “For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

    Great tips, and they can apply to a lot more areas than just writing. I find that I get a lot of my more innovative ideas when I’m on a long drive by myself. My subconscious seems to free up to meander in all different directions.

  12. says

    Concerning # 2 put yourself on the other side of the argument…. I gain much inspiration from that tactic.
    My Dad use to say attack the problem not the person. Now I know this topic is not about arguments but Im using that to say…when I do step back and look at both sides as you suggest but then be sure to look objectively about the real issue using arguments as the example then you are right… I always gain a great deal of wisdom or insight from that vantage point…and I get extremely creative in those moments…

  13. says

    Great post.

    We usually take such magnificent computational machine as our brain for granted and do not make full use of it. Our brain and imagination has unlimited potential. We can create patterns of fathomless intricacy and connect a million dots at once just in one flash of thought.

    Changing our routines is important, otherwise what would be the difference between us and those robots in sci-fi movies who always see the world in dull numbers?

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