The ability to invent and create is required in every area, whether you work in arts, technology, science, or banking. But where do ideas come from? How do we boost creativity and find inspiration when we need it? While it would be useful to have the power to switch the creativity on every time we are working on the next big thing, unfortunately, it does not quite work like that. Sometimes we can spend hours and days without a single creative thought, which can be disheartening. And then there are those times when we are struck by creative magic in the most unlikely places such as the shower, during our exercise class, or while driving.
The world of creativity is fascinating. If we are unable to predict when the ideas will come knocking on our creativity doors, are we able to set ourselves up for success? Here are some creative ways exploring how to boost your creativity and find inspiration:
Synectics: Connecting The Dots
In the words of Steve Jobs: “Creativity is just connecting things.” The skill to capture everything, such as ideas, thoughts, and experiences, is crucial to the creative process. The more you train your mind to ‘capture,’ the more you can start making connections between unrelated objects and concepts, collating them into previously unconnected inspired ideas.
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.” Steve Jobs
Therefore, it is worthwhile to develop a habit of getting all ideas out of your head by recording them in a format that suits you, such as notes, audio reminders, or photos. Why not dedicate a section on your phone, computer, or regular notepad strictly for inspiration. When you start noticing all the unpolished fragments that come to you when you are out on a walk or in the middle of your lunch break, you will soon have a library full of inspiration.
The fragments do not have to be a finished product by any means, but merely something that lights you up or inspires you in that particular moment. Let go of perfection; it diminishes creativity. Start saving anything that speaks to you, such as images, words, concepts, experiences. There is no need to fully understand these snippets of inspiration or have a plan for them; you can start making connections later by applying Synectics.
The Joining Together of Elements
William J.J Gordon, the creator of Synectics described the technique as “the joining together of different and apparently irrelevant elements”. The process of Synectics based on metaphors and analogies, whereby different elements are brought together to enable brand new ideas to emerge. The process of Synectics will help you with forming connections between new and existing concepts, and finding inspiration.
Practice Divergent Thinking
Divergent thinking is a method used to produce creative ideas and find inspiration by considering many possible options. This thought process is commonly practiced intuitively and spontaneously, where several creative ideas are generated and assessed. The potential ideas are explored in a short period of time. Once the Divergent thinking stage is complete, the information and concepts are structured and organized using Convergent thinking and applying logical reasoning.
If the above sounds complicated, please rest assured that it really is not so. Try it today, and you might be pleasantly surprised at the amount of inspiration you might find from this process. Here are some techniques to help you develop Divergent thinking:
Brainstorming is a technique that involves producing a list of creative ideas in an unstructured manner. The main goal of the brainstorming process is to generate as many creative ideas as possible quickly. The fundamental principle in brainstorming is ‘piggybacking’ or using a concept to introduce other ideas. In the course of the brainstorming process, all thoughts are noted, without criticizing or judging. Once a list of ideas is generated, you can go back and review the ideas to study their merit.
This technique refers to a creative process of writing continuously for a given time, usually on a particular topic or prompt. The idea is to write down everything that comes to mind on the specific idea or topic without worrying about the quality of the writing or stopping to proofread. The freewriting process can help generate a wide range of intuitive thoughts, which can later be distilled and organized to draw inspiration.
Mind or subject mapping is a similar technique to brainstorming, whereby you create a visual map of displaying the connections among these topics or ideas. The mapping process is routinely started by a central idea, which is then divided into smaller branches, representing different aspects of the idea. Mind or subject mapping is a useful tool for creating a visual roadmap that can help you find inspiration.
Be Open To New Experiences
Being open to new experiences is said to breed creativity, spark new ideas and ultimately find inspiration. Unsurprisingly, the most creative among us are those who are open to exploring new territories.
The key to this process is to focus on the unexpected. It may, of course, feel awkward or uncomfortable at first, but you must remember that the wider your experience range, the more likely you are to generate new creative ideas. Seeing the world with fresh eyes can be accomplished in various ways, such as reading history, starting a new hobby, listening to music, or talking to someone new. All these experiences will change your perspective and provide room for creativity.
The next time you are working on that next big thing, remember that you are closer to a creative breakthrough than you think. Creativity is not limited to prodigies or geniuses. If you start cultivating an environment that promotes innovation and nourishes ideas, it will lead to a rich soil for inspiration to blossom.