5 Ways to Unleash Your Creative Ideas

by STEVE BLOOM

Any idea?

I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say one of the most important qualities for someone to have in order to be successful is creativity. Having the ability to create a new idea out of nothing is a highly desirable trait. And if you asked the creators of various businesses, they would add that new ideas can also be very profitable.

But beyond any monetary gains, being creative has other benefits. Research has shown being creative can improve mood, self-esteem, and socialization. Creativity is useful in solving real-world problems by being able to see things from new perspectives. This can increase your critical thinking power and make you a better decision-maker.

Discover Your Inner Creativity

I’ll be the first to admit that creativity doesn’t always come easy. I work a long time on making sure everything is just right. And that doesn’t just apply to this blog; I also paint and do other writing. But I think all the effort is worth it when I create something uniquely my own. For me, it’s this sense of accomplishment that continues to drive me towards creative thinking.

With that in mind, I mapped out five things I do to increase my creativity. Hopefully, these points will help you unleash your own inner creative ideas.

1. Update old ideas

Even some of the latest, best ideas really aren’t anything new. It’s how you use old ideas in new ways that can make all the difference. In fact, if you were to look more closely at a lot of creative ideas, I bet you’d see that they are just updated versions of some older idea.

For example, look more closely at Facebook. Arguably it was one of the best creative ideas in the past few decades. However, as we peer into the evolution of this idea, it becomes clear that it is not new at all. Facebook was founded in 2004, but Myspace had been around for at least a full year by that time.

Before Myspace, Friendster had been around for two years. And Friendster was modeled partly on earlier social networking sites such as Theglobe.com and Geocities.com. Look even further back and you’ll find that these sites were based off some of the first internet chat rooms. And those were just based off of any social interaction you’d find in a bar or at a party.

As you can see, ideas can constantly be updated to make something newer and better. All it takes to make something truly creative is to just take an old idea and make it better and more relevant to the world today.

2. Get a new perspective

When it comes to perspectives on life, most people only trust one: their own. And that would work well if you knew everything in the world. But with all the information and misinformation floating around the world, you’re bound to miss a point of view.

There are countless ways to view any particular thought or issue. My perspective makes sense to me, but other people might see things differently. What if my point of view is wrong? With that in mind, I developed a simple technique to make sure I see everything from as many sides as possible.

After I analyze my perspective on a thought or issue, I try to view it from as many other people’s points of view in my head. Eventually you’ll train your mind to see things multiple ways. This has the added benefit of making you a better problem solver. Since most complex problems aren’t solved on the first try, finding the correct path to the solution often means approaching the problem from multiple angles.

3. Be spontaneous

One of the biggest blocks to creativity is over thinking. When you over think, so many thoughts can go through your head at once that it jams up your thinking process. I like to imagine it like a freeway. Your thoughts are cars and if there are too many of them, nothing can freely flow.

This is the idea behind improvisation. Creating something without prior preparation frees your mind of all those thoughts clogging up your mind. In the process, you’ll just come up with things as you go. It’s not as chaotic as it sounds either. If you’ve ever seen an improv comedy act, you’ll realize that some of the best creativity can be done this way.

4. Brainstorm

When it comes to pure idea generation, brainstorming can’t be beat since the emphasis is on quantity of ideas rather than quality. I use this when I develop blog post topics. I’ll either sit in front of my computer and think about topics I typically write about. If a topic comes up that I think would make a good blog post, I’ll write it down.

Sometimes coming up with ideas isn’t easy though. I’ll sit and think for a long time without coming up with anything. At that point, I’ll get my mind off it by taking a break. Typically I’ll read or watch a movie. Sometimes I’ll go for a walk or out to eat somewhere. When I go back to brainstorming, I’ll be approaching it from a different angle. Usually, the topics start flowing after that.

Once I have a number of ideas, I’ll go over them once more to make sure they are worthwhile. The first part of brainstorming is about quantity, the second part is about picking quality. Once this is all done, you’ll have a bunch of ideas to choose from when you need to.

5. Make connections

Instead of updating an older idea, creativity can be as simple as taking two distinct ideas and putting them together. I actually had the chance to experience how making connections works recently. I went out to eat with a friend of mine and on the menu was a peculiar item I had never seen before. It was for chicken and waffles. I had never considered eating them together before, but I gave it a try. Needless to say, it was excellent.

You probably run into these creative ideas everyday. Walk into a grocery store and you’ll often see a Starbucks or Caribou Coffee. Some grocery stores even have a bank branch or redbox movie location.

Until recently, politics and social networking were separate. Now it seems as if every candidate can’t win without it. Even marriage and fast food restaurants can share ideas. The drive through windows of marriage chapels in Los Angeles do very well. Just about any two ideas can be combined to make something new.

Are there any ways you use to unleash your creative ideas? Do you use any of these methods?
photo credit: _Max-B

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Comments

  1. My favorite is the update old ideas. I have a bunch of notebooks that I keep reviewing every couple of months to see if anything still has the same punch that I thought when I first wrote it down. The trick for me is to write them down more when I think of them. Great tips!

    • I try to write things down quickly when I think of them too. I keep some notes on my online email account so I can access it from anywhere in the world and write things down before I forget.

  2. Brainstorming and spontaneity are two that I make use of a lot in my attempts to be creative. With the blog, I might make a few notes if I need to break a trip down into a few posts but apart from that, I write each post daily – whatever is in my head. If I try to prepare them in advance, I am guilty of over-thinking and my writing suffers from that.
    Julia

    • I use spontaneity differently when I write. I use it mostly to come up with topics and general idea of what I want. After that I take time to figure out the layout and what post I think would work best. I guess it is just a matter of using spontaneity in a way that works best for you to get those ideas going.

  3. Great post! I have a very creative friend who used to tell me when I would complain about not having inspiration that you can find inspiration in the things that are mundane and boring…just put a different spin on them, or look at them from a different perspective. After all, isn’t that what comedians do?

    • I agree. Inspiration can really come from anywhere. It’s just a matter of finding a new spin on something even if it is mundane.

  4. Steve,

    These were some really, really good tips on finding creative ideas. I used to keep a notebook of ideas. As I reviewed them a lot of the were really stupid. I mean really stupid but some of them were really good. I unleashed the power of old ideas and my blog was born. So, there is your first tip in affect and the benefits ring true. I also, outside of the tips you provided, find myself the most creative when I change my atmosphere to what I am accustomed too and listen to soothing music. That’s just my 1 1/2 cents. Great post Steve.

    • Hey Frank, I know the feeling of looking over something you wrote down and realizing it really wasn’t good. But that’s why I like to give it a few days before I go back to my ideas. I get a fresh look at them to see if there really was something good to it. And even if they aren’t all that good, they might spark an idea for something else that works really well.

  5. sometimes a great idea just pops up from nowhere… i always keep a journal with me or if i dont have one i record it using the voice recorder of my phone…

  6. I often find myself wanting to kick myself when I see someone has capitalized on an idea that was “right there.” All you had to do was combine two things or just improve upon the current design. But I tend to not be a big picture person; you bring me in for the details and to get organized once the big plan is decided. My creativity will have to come out through writing and visual arts (Great post, btw)

    • I hate it when someone beats me to an idea too. That’s why whenever I come up with something, I immediately set out to do it. I never know what will work and what won’t. But it is still good to do it before anyone else has a chance to do it.

  7. Nice post! I have had so many “brilliant” ideas over the years that have come to me in dreams or sporadic thoughts. I really wish I had written them down and capitalized on them because I have since forgotten them. There goes my chance to strike of rich!

  8. What a timely post! I was already getting in a rut with writing all our travel posts. Some days, the words are just not flowing. These tips sure come in handy. Thanks Steve!

  9. I have to say actually, that I think keeping a blog helps me with my creativity. I’m not a very creative person at all, but pumping out a couple of blog posts a week – selecting the topics, writing them, choosing the photos – quenches my creative thirst. It might be a good idea for more people to try.

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