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Is there a way I can develop a more creative mind?

“Is there a way I can develop a more creative mind so that I can come up with ideas?”
Anonymous asked on Quora

Applied creativity is a practiced skill. There are infinite ways to understand the ways you already use this skill and to figure out the next steps:

Notice how you’re already creative.

Every action you take is creative. You’re taking something from your inner world and making it real. You created your life today. You could sleep in and instead you wake up. You could quit your job; instead, you work. You could abandon your relationships, instead, you keep them. Life is an act of creation.

“Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope.” F. Scott Fitzgerald, Great Gatsby

You can play with your life in small creative ways. Plan in areas that you’re spontaneous. Be spontaneous about details that you often plan. Take a different route to work. Try something new every day. Quit doing something that you never want to do again or find an easier way to do it.

Clarity comes from action.

Research ways to be more creative. Read articles and tutorials. That’s just a start. And most importantly, try the ideas!

“If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.” Ecclesiastes 11:4

Notice what’s around you.

Every moment has an infinite number of facts. The feeling of touch of the keyboard or phone as you type. The sound of your breath. The color of your walls. The taste in your mouth. The scent of your clothing, hair and environment.

Engage your senses in any moment. You’ll notice something you never noticed before. The more information you have, the more you can use this in your creative pursuits.

Think of an artist drawing an ordinary object. Even if it’s a very minimalist representation, capturing some small detail of the original object is engaging. Imagine an artist sketch a silhouette of various objects. With a single line, you can capture texture, size, and relationship.

Listen and be curious

Often we listen with envy, wishing we can do what others do or have what they have. When you notice this feeling, engage with curiosity instead. Understand how they became who they are and do what they do. Notice how you’re alike and different. It’s okay and completely expected that everyone has a unique perspective.

“Fools say that they learn by experience. I prefer to profit by others experience.” Otto von Bismarck

If someone has an idea, try it without resistance. Being a good listener means having lower defenses. The more comfortable we get with understanding the thoughts of others as ideas rather than judgement, the easier it will be to apply those ideas to our own creativity.

“Don’t take anything personally…What others say and do is a projection of their own reality. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”— Miguel Angel Ruiz

Write it down

This is one of the tips that works really well for me. Write lists, organize them or leave them messy. Read about mind mapping techniques and play around with the. Take out a piece of paper and scribble over it.

In cognitive science, this concept is called Distributed cognition. As I was saying earlier, creativity is taking the thoughts from your inner world and making them real. So the more you practice finding ways to turn your thoughts into actions, the more creative you’ll be.

Sketch it out

Draw doodles. Turn words into pictures. How do you see things in your mind? If you have trouble building associations, go to google image search and Pinterest and doodle what you see. The very act of doodling will give it the uniqueness of your eye and your hand.

Get a sketchbook. Or often that feels that’s too precious. So scrap paper, cheap dollar notebooks, and old envelopes from junk mail are also amazing tools

Answer questions

“Make statements” as Tina Fey says. She advises that we turn questions into answers. Statements are where the real work is. Whether it’s making statements about questions on quora or testing the statements that are responses to your own questions. If your statement is wrong, just make another one.

“I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.” Oscar Wilde

Share often

Ideas don’t develop in a vacuum. With the internet, it’s easy to put your work out there. Get used to putting your work in front of people and not taking feedback personally. Feedback isn’t always true. It’s just the thought of others. Mostly developed through their own inner worlds. Enjoying this play between your thoughts and the thoughts of others is the heart of the creative mind. Your ideas can spark ideas the mind of others.

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Uncanny Creativity is a podcast and blog with advice, tips and ideas about the creative process. Do you have a question our community can help answer? Record your audio or written question via this contact form. Email b@uncannycreativity.com, write on Twitter @uncannycreative, or on our Facebook page.

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Brian E. Young

I'm a graphic designer (portfolio), classical pianist and artist in Baltimore, MD. I host the Uncanny Creativity Podcast helping to demystify the creative process and creator of Funlooksfun.com, an online shop for apparel and games. Twitter: @sketchee

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