Okay, we know that creative people are actually human beings. What many of us do not know is to answer the question: how the hell in Jupiter’s name did she or he do that? So, we know that in many areas of human life, wisdom represents a mixture of convergent thinking, intelligence, and reason, spiced with creativity and originality. People who are wise approach life with openness and tolerance (Helson & Srivastava, 2002). These folks already know that there are 8 ways on how to be creative too!
1) Break Mental Sets and Challenge Assumptions
An effective way to break mental sets (the tendency to perceive a problem in a way that blinds us to possible solutions) is to enlarge the definition of a problem. For instance, assume your problem is to design a better door way. This is likely to lead to ordinary solutions. Why not change the problem to design a better way to get through a wall? Now your solutions will be more original. Best of all might be to state the problem as follows: find a better way to define separate areas for living and working. This could lead to truly creative solutions (Adams, 1998).
2) Restate the Problem in Different Ways
Imagine you are asked to remove six letters from these sets of words (CSRIEXLEATTTERES) to get a new word.
Okay, how did you do it? You actually counted out six letters you’d remove right? Okay. How about removing the letters S, I, X, L, E, T, T, E, R, S from those group of words? Done that? Okay, what do you have now? A new word – CREATE!
Now that’s how to look for a new problem…how to be creative!
3) Create the Right Atmosphere
Does it make sense that you are a dancer, and you never find it good enough to be in a dance club, or studio? What about having to watch your favourite dancer and learning from him/her?
Does it make sense that you love debates, and yet you’re not in any debate group? I don’t think so. I don’t also think it makes sense if you’re a writer, a poet and everything arts, and you’re not in any book club, literary circles, etc.
“If you want to become more creative, spend more time around creative people. This is the premise underlying much education in art, theater, dance, and music” (Sternberg & Lubart, 1995).
4) Allow Time for Incubation
Trying to hurry or to force a solution may simply encourage fixation on a dead-end. Creativity takes time. Incubation is especially fruitful when you are exposed to external cues that relate to the problem. Johannes Gutenberg, creator of the printing press, realized while at a wine harvest that the mechanical pressure used to crush grapes could also be used to imprint letters on paper (Dorfman, Shames, & Kihlstrom, 1996).
5) Seek Varied Input
Creativity requires divergent thinking; rather than digging deeper with logic, attempt to shift your mental ‘prospecting’ to new ideas. You may get similar benefits from relating various objects to a problem – take a walk, skim through a newspaper, or look through a stack of photographs to see what thoughts they trigger (Michalko, 1998). Exposing yourself to a variety of information is a good way to encourage divergent thinking (Clapham, 2001).
6) Look for Analogies
Many ‘new’ problems are really old problems in new clothing (Siegler, 1989). Representing a problem in many ways is often the key to solution.
7) Take Sensible Risks
A willingness to go against the crowd is a key element in doing creative work. Unusual and original ideas may be rejected at first by conventional thinkers. I guess you know the stories of people like Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, J K Rowling and many other folks, whose works were rejected either by institutions or publishing houses. You also know of the incredible breakthroughs that followed after their perseverance. So my friend, keep pushing! Let every rejection act as a catalyst…always!
8) Delay Evaluation.
In the final stages of creative thinking, it is important to avoid criticizing your efforts. Worrying about the correctness of solutions tends to inhibit creativity (Basadur, Runco, & Vega, 2000).
An alternative approach to enhancing creativity is called brainstorming – producing and evaluating ideas separately. In writing an essay, for instance, you would begin by writing ideas in any order, the more the better, just as they occur to you. Later you would go back and reorganize, rewrite, and criticize your efforts.
Okay, those are our 8 ways of how to be creative. Nonetheless, people are more intrinsically motivated. On the job, for instance, salaries and bonuses may increase the amount of work done.
However, work quality is affected more by intrinsic factors such as personal interest and freedom of choice (Nakamura & Csikszentmihalyi, 2003). Psychologist Teresa Amabile lists the following as “creative killers:”
* Working under surveillance.
* Having your choices restricted by rules.
* Working primarily to get a good evaluation (or avoid a bad one).
* Working mainly to get more money.
Check out this book if you’d like to read more on what creativity entails (Dennis Coon and John O. Mitterer, “Introduction to Psychology,” USA: Cengage Learning, 2007).
So there you go! Are you doing something creative of recent? Singing? Dancing? Drawing? Writing? Sports? Are you having a problem you would like to share with us?
Reach out my friend, there are many like you out there. Be creative…the world needs you!
My name is David Francis and the nature of my engagements include:
Philosophy (University of Jos, Nigeria); Research Consultant (St. Albert’s Institute, Fayit-Fadan, Kaduna, Nigeria); Editor (Sapientia African Leadership Formation Programme, e. V Address: Badenstedter Street, 99 30453, Hannover, Germany); Editor (African Home Reintegration, Spinnereistrasse 1A 30449, Hannover, Germany); Literature (S. E. M. S. Nassarawa State, Nigeria); Former Associate Editor, “Periscope Magazine,” Abuja and Columnist, “Seekers Delight Magazine,” Kaduna.
I simply try to question the ‘happy darkness’ by encouraging more hands to minimize ignorance. Just a dose of knowledge, is enough in training the mind, to conform to nothing except truth. Let’s ride this train together!
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