One thing that makes us human is our ability to get creative ideas- to think of new ways of doing things. “Oh no,” you might say, “I’m not the creative type!” But creativity is one of the powers of the human mind. All normal human beings have the ability to solve problems creatively.
All of us face problems, small and big, every day of our lives. And we all solve them, sometimes successfully, sometimes less successfully.
We often see problems negatively. The less problems we have, the better our lives would be. This is only true some of the time. Problems can be opportunities. Solving them in creative ways can lead to a better life. Seen in this way, problems are what has made much of modern progress and civilization possible.
How to nurture your creative spark
Creativity is not something only a few lucky people are born with. It can be developed.
Here are some ideas that will help you grow your creativity:
Be Interested. Passion for your field is key to being creative. Creativity comes from inside. External reasons such as payment, prizes, fame or the approval of others often block the creative impulse.
Become an Expert: Interest leads to curiosity, and to expertise, both of which boost creativity.
Be positive. Creativity has no use for negativity. Being depressed, or pessimsitic or filled with negative thoughts is sure to stop the creative flow.
Be confident. With positivity comes confidence and the willingness to take risks. Both are crucial if you want to be creative.
Thinking Styles. Creativity needs both divergent and convergent thinking styles. At first you think of as many possible answers as you can even if they seem to be unrelated to the problem. “If at first the idea is not absurd, there is no hope for it,” Einstein said. But once you have a lot of absurd and not-so-absurd ideas, comes the time for convergent thinking, in which you weigh the pros and cons of each one and finally select the one you think has most promise. The most far-out notions sometimes create surprising and novel solutions.
There has been a lot of research into how we can get creative. Workers in the field of creativity such as Alex Osborn, Sidney Parnes, and Edward de Bono have proposed many different methods to boost creativity.
The CPS (Creative Problem Solving) model, lateral thinking, and more structured approaches like the Theory of Inventive Problem-Solving are some of these.
A professional tells us how to get creative
But there is one technique anyone can try. It was first written down by James Webb Young, who became copywriter for J Walter Thomson in the early twentieth century and was later inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame. His little booklet, “A Technique for producing Ideas” came about as a result of the sales team of a well-known magazine asking him how to get ideas.
This is highly practical stuff. It comes from a man who came up with ideas every day of his life; it was the way he earned his living. Here is what he recommends:
Step 1: gather all the information that you can about the problem you’re trying to solve. Make it as thorough as you can.This is what Young calls “specific” information.You should also have a store of “general” information – general knowledge about life and events. History, geography, science – everything is grist
You should also have a store of “general” information – general knowledge about life and events. History, geography, science – everything is grist to your mill. For it is in the relationships between these two types of information that an idea is born.
Step 2: Try to solve the problem. Look at it this way, and then that. Turn it over and over. Try fitting facts to it even if they don’t seem to fit. You’ve got to be really persistent and tenacious in this. Write down all the ideas that occur, however crazy they sound. You might not get an idea you like at the end of it – that doesn’t matter. What matters is you’ve tried your very best. By and by, you’ll get to a stage where you’re completely confused. Everything seems like a mess and you can’t go on anymore.
Step 3: At this point, drop it. Go to sleep, or read a book. Do anything but think about the problem. Go for a movie. Take a walk. This is the third step, and probably the game-changer. Because now you’re unleashing the power of the subconscious.
Step 4: Then, when you’re least expecting it, the fourth step: the idea will appear. It might wake you in the middle of the night. Or it might come just as you’re waking up, still half asleep, early in the morning. But come it will.
Step 5: The last step is to get the idea into the real world. In the clear light of day, the idea may not be as marvellous it seemed at first. It’s all very well to sit back and get creative, but once you’ve got that idea, it’ll need a lot of work to make it practical. Nurse it, nurture it. It could help to share it with others. The idea will grow, mature and finally turn into that perfect solution that just might make you a million dolllars!