Up all night trying to think of new ideas? Here are some ways to generate more creative ideas – whether it’s creating advertising, new inventions or how to come up with more creative ideas in the workplace.
1. Get used to risk.
Creative people are willing to share their ideas, even if there’s a good chance they’ll be told their ideas belong in the garbage. Many creative, artistic, or idea-oriented people find this paralyzing, and never take the risk for fear of the worst – and the world loses from that decision! So, if that’s you, work on that! Those with naturally thick skins, or those with experience understand this is just a part of melding ideas into the general population. Creatives understand most people will shoot down most of the ideas that pop into their heads – even after they’ve run ideas through their own sieve to filter the good, bad and ugly out before presenting to others. It’s simply how it works.
2. Soak yourself in the creativity of others
If you don’t have a swank group of hip, jazzy friends to inspire you, attend live performances whenever possible – music, plays, or outdoor musicians. Even events at school with your kids can be invirgorating. There is something about live performances that renews energy.
3. Expose yourself to as many ideas as you can to encourage your brain to free associate
Reading is critical. But to be creative, don’t read what you have to – read what you want to. Look at it as giving your brain all of the cotton candy it wants, and indulge its every whim. Creativity comes from free association, so it doesn’t matter if you’re reading about biophysics, cartoons or astrology, as long as you’re selecting books that pique your curiosity.
4. Give yourself permission. Turn off your frontal lobe.
Good creatives know when to use their frontal lobe. Your frontal lobe filters out most of the stupid stuff you would otherwise do, like bungie jumping after you drank a 12-pack, or drinking a 12-pack in the first place. For better ideas, try to tone down your frontal lobe and that whole screening process. Grant yourself 30 minutes where any idea is possible. Have fun. If you would rather buy a paperdoll book instead of an actual book to read, then do that instead. Being creative means letting your brain change its mind. A good creative uses frontal lobe activity to sift ideas out from what their target audience will like – but that step comes much later.
5. Consider some random good acts of kindness
It’s nice to be a good person. But in my opinion, it’s also good for creativity. Why? Because it doesn’t make logical sense to just drop a twenty dollar bill in a busy parking lot hoping someone needy might find it. (This is another relax-your-frontal-lobe trick). You want your logical brain to think “Now that just doesn’t make sense!” and your creative side to think “Great! That’s just what I was going for!”
Let the right side of your brain run things for a change.
6. Remember that creativity doesn’t have to make sense until later.
Coming up with ideas is letting go of your mental control, which might seem senseless and pointless. That’s okay! Random is good! There’s plenty of time for your left brain when you begin refining ideas. At that stage, you will work out ideas, try different approaches and be more selective. But for now, try walking backwards when you walk your dog. Wear your glasses upside-down for awhile. Be 4 years old. Or, to borrow a tag line from one of my favorite companies, “Think Different.”
The more fun, the better your ideas will be.