To start off a series of posts on creative thinking, here are seven random tips I find helpful when I need think more creatively.
1. WRITE THINGS DOWN > Nothing forces you to crystalize your thinking more than having to condense it to the written word. Write, write, write. Write down the problem to be solved. Write down ideas when they happen. Write down solutions to remember them later. One year after figuring out the best way wind up the Christmas tree lights, I wrote myself a note and put it in the box so I would remember it when I pulled them out again the next year. Worked.
2. GET BACK TO NATURE > There are solutions everywhere in nature. When we spend time in nature, we get to observe a wealth of analogies and metaphors we can use to solve our problems.
3. GO INTO THE SILENCE > Spend some time in solitude. Meditate, go for a walk, sit and do nothing. Just get silent.
4. COMBINE TWO UNLIKE THINGS > Did you know that the words to "Gilligan's Island" work to the tune of Amazing Grace? Try it. When you get stuck, go for the opposite. Open the dictionary to a random word and make it work with your idea. Ideas can come from far away places.
5. BORROW IDEAS > Not every idea has to be original, as long as you give appropriate credit. Fast food restaurants borrowed the drive-thru from banking. Or was it the other way around?
6. FEED ON CREATIVITY > The old adage, "Garbage in, garbage out" works with anything. "Creativity in, creativity out." Read creative books, hang out with creative people, go to creative places, attend creative workshops.
7. GET DISCIPLINED > Seems counter-intuitive, but the more disciplined you are the more creative you are. Being disciplined gives you more time and less stress to focus on creative thinking.
Watch for an upcoming interview with creative writer and artist, S. F. Varney. His latest book is "Karate Dottie and the Treacherous Treehouse."