Are you feeling a bit 'stuck' and in need of some fresh new ideas? Check out this list for 17 ways to boost your creative thinking for free!
1. Hang out with kids. Kids really do have the best ideas! Observe their fantasy play and story-telling. Watch as their inventive story lines unfold in their role playing. It might just give you that brainwave you've been searching for!
2. Open your mind. This is a really hard thing to do but... try to forget everything you know (sounds crazy I know)! Wipe your mind clean like a blank piece of paper. Being creative is about moving past your preconceived ideas and experience to come up with something totally unique! That's why kids are so good at it - they don't know what they don't know!
3. Study your environment. I mean really study it. Studying the smallest things in our environment can lead to a great story. My latest story 'There's Bug Guts on m Shoe' is about my daughter standing on a bug. I listened to what she said, I observed her reactions and the story developed from there. They key is to take the facts and give them a little twist and turn along the way.
4. Get inside your characters head. Try to really understand your character and get into their head so your audience can relate to their personality and connect with their emotions . The main character in 'There's Bug Guts on My Shoe' is a little school boy. Who am I writing for? Kids. Who loves insects and bugs? Well boys and girls, but I would suggest mainly boys. So with that in mind, I created a character who kids could relate to by seeing the world through their own eyes.
5. Experiment. Play around with different colours, ideas and characters! You don't have to have anything in particular in mind when you start. Just see where the idea takes you. There is actually a word for this. Serendipity! So we know it is a real thing… Sometimes the ideas that we accidentally stumble across turn out to be the best!
6. Put random ideas together. Sometimes by putting the most ridiculous things together you come up with the most creative (yet random) ideas. When I was thinking about illustrations for my book 'There's Bug Guts on My Shoe' I thought about the character Myra and how her 'styley doo looked like a zoo'. Do you know what I came up with? Two giraffes holding a tight rope in their mouth with a juggling elephant, a lion doing a handstand and a monkey eating a banana. Now that's random (but I think it worked)!
7. Exercise. Release those endorphins! Clear out the cobwebs. Get your heart racing and blood pumping! You might find that a little bit of movement opens the gateways to creativity. Personally, I know I have my best ideas when I'm doing stair sprints. I get an idea in my head and as I run up and down the stairs the idea develops. By the time I've finished, not only have I done 40 minutes of exercise and burnt a whole heap of calories in the process, but I've also got the added bonus of a half written story. Winning!
8. Music. This is food for the soul! It can take us to places that make us smile, cry and everything in between. Music is the carriage-way to a roller coast of emotions. Give your mind permission to go on that trip and see where it takes you....
9. Travel. Speaking of trips, one of the best ways to boost your creative thinking for free is travel. When I went backpacking around South East Asia I always carried a diary. Every day I would write about my adventures. It's not until I was in the 'moment' experiencing those new smells, tastes, colours and cultures that I could really get lost in my thoughts.
10. Doodle. Come on now, let's keep it civilised. I'm talking about scribbles, pictures, ideas, random lines, patterns, and shapes. Just sit there and see what you come up with. It doesn't have to make sense!
11. Bring creativity into your work life. I work for the Government. My job is governed by rules and regulations. It's pretty black and white. You might think I would be hard pressed to be creative in my job. But you know what, it's not just how you say something, it's also how you present it! For example a mere Power Point display can become a work of art. A few picture here, some fancy font there and voila! Creativity at it's peak and a damn fine Power Point display to boot!
12. Write in a different environment. Pick up your laptop, paper and pens and head somewhere new. Go to the beach or sit on top of a grassy knoll overlooking the sweet smelling spring flowers. A new environment, some fresh air and some natural scenery can definitely help to boost your creative thinking for free.
13. Be a big kid. Blow bubbles, make mud pies, do face painting, run into the sea with your clothes on, go on a rollercoaster ride, build a treehouse, make a sandcastle, have a sleepover! You get the point. It’s invigorating, it will help to free your mind and best of all... it’s FUN!
14. Sleep on it. I know from experience that when I'm tired I don't have the energy to do anything let alone come up with a creative masterpiece. The fact that I have two small kids, a job and lots of interrupted sleep doesn't help matters. Make sure you put yourself as a priority too and give yourself time to rest and relax.
15. Mind Mapping. Personally I LOOOOOVE mind maps!!! It's just such a cool visual way to link together ideas, information or relationships. Mind maps usually start from a central idea in the middle of a page and then lines, symbols, words, colour or images branch out like flower petals. I just love how mind maps take a whole lot of random ideas and put them into some kind of order. Genius!!
16. Play dress ups. So... do you go for the princess, the pirate or the superhero! Personally, I think I'd go for super-mum! Dressing up is lots of fun (especially when you include the kids too)!
17. Do something you love. If you do this, you will do it with passion, enthusiasm, joy and most of all - happiness! And good things come from being happy. Not only does it make you smile, but it also helps to ignite that little flicker from within. And we can always do with more love and light in our lives.
So there are 17 ways to boost your creative thinking for free! And if you want to read more of my writing, check out my newest book There's Bug Guts on my Shoe!