Steve Gillman asked:
To increase creativity, you need to do two things. First, you need to encourage it. Second, you need to train your brain. Start on both of these right now, and you can experience greater creativity today.
Encourage creativity and you’ll increase creativity. This is true of most things you want to see more of in your life. Encouragement can work wonders. How do you encourage creativity, though?
First, by paying attention to it. Your subconscious mind tends to give you more of what you pay attention to. If you ignore the creative aspects of your life, you are telling your subconscious that they are unimportant. If you consciously note when you are creative, and you look for opportunities to be creative, your subconscious mind will start feeding you more creative ideas. Look for it and you’ll find more of it.
Another way to encourage and increase creativity, is to write your ideas down. Keep an “idea journal.” If you do this regularly, you’ll notice that you often start having more ideas the moment you start to write. A so-so idea may normally be forgotten, but by writing it down, you may remember it, your subconscious works on it, and it can transform into something very creative.
You can also encourage greater creativity in yourself by putting creative ideas into practice. If you paint or write, for example, try anything new. Even just driving a different route to work to see if it is quicker can help. The point is to get you mind working outside of its regular patterns.
Just changing your surroundings can encourage creativity. If you want more creativity in your love life, go hike up a mountain with your partner. If you write, try sitting on a roof to write. If you need new ideas for your business, take a notebook to the park and sit by the duck pond. A change of enviroment can get your brain out of it’s ruts.
If you want to dramatically increase creativity, develop creative habits of mind. Watch a good comedian and you’ll see that she has trained her mind to look for the “different angle” on everyday things. You can train your mind to do the same.
Challenge assumptions, for example, until it becomes habit. Looking for ways to get customers into your store? Stop and say, “Do I really need more customers?” The question suggests other creative solutions, like finding ways to make more money off existing customers, or ways to cut expenses. These may lead to more profitable ideas. Challenge assumptions to increase the creativity of your solutions.
As you drive to work, randomly choose anything around you and ask how it may be connected to whatever problem you are working on. A helicopter overhead might make you think about a way to track where the car goes when you loan it to your kids. A palm tree may lead to a new design for patio umbrellas.
The above techniques are called “Assumption Challenging” and “Random Presentation,” and are two classic creative problem solving techniques. There are dozens more. Train your brain to habitually use these, and provide it with a little encouragement, and you really can increase your creativity.