Yesterday I did it to myself again, I had to be creative. So start thinking really hard, after all, google and you will find lots of creative-thinking lemmas? No way, I would say, that any creative ideas would result. At least not in the sense that thinking is a conscious activity, ‘an intellectual exertion aimed at finding an answer to a question or the solution of a practical problem’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thought). My proposition is that to be creative you have to do exactly the opposite, that is to stop thinking and let ideas surface just like that!
So where do you get your creative ideas? From the most powerful computer in the world, your unconscious. And, as you know as well as I do, you get them in the shower, staring at the clouds, watching the kettle. In short, when you let go, when you do not exert yourself. In creativity, exertion is counterproductive.
Now to help yourself to let go, creative thinking does offer strategies worth looking at. So in the courses on problem solving and decision making that I deliver, I let my students do some assignments with these strategies.
The strategies divide over climbing and distancing strategies. The idea is that you are stuck staring at your issue up a narrow rift or from a short distance and that you need to broaden your perspective. In the climbing strategies you do so by challenging your unconscious assumptions, for an example https://hatrabbits.com/en/creative-escape/.
Or download the The hexagon assignment:
If you want feedback on your answer, send me an email!
For the distancing strategies or lateral thinking strategies, you find a good explanation on https://thoughtegg.com/lotus-blossom-creative-technique/. Personally, I always start with a totally random word, for instance picked out of a book with your eyes closed. You’ll be amazed how chain-associations will add to your original ideas! I recommend giving that one a try too!
Published in an earlier version on March 26 2010