How to Be More Creative
Creativity is an essential aspect of an entrepreneur's toolkit. One cannot start a successful business, create a new product, develop superior solutions, or craft more efficient processes without thinking differently.
How can one even begin to think creatively if one is not inherently creative? Thankfully, there are several very simple exercises that can vastly improve one's creative thinking skills. These creativity-boosting methods include:
- Use of paracosms
- Use of metaphors
- Thinking from a child's perspective
- Relaxation time (free of distractions)
By adopting just one of these approaches, you should be able to sharpen your imagination and problem-solving skills. Chances are you'll also have fun while doing it!
Paracosms - An Awesome Creativity Booster
Remember those imaginary worlds you made up when you were a kid? It just so happens that these things have a fantastic name: paracosms.
Paracosms often feature things such as:
- Imaginary friends
- Made up animals
- Unique languages
- Unique geography
- Detailed histories
- Complex economies
- Highly structured political systems
Paracosms can be incredibly complex. Some people even create elaborate maps, drawings, and guides to chart these universes.
Individual, Collaborative, and Inspired Paracosms
One can create paracosms alone or collaboratively. The Bronte sisters (and brother) worked together to create paracosms (specifically, the kingdoms of Gondol, Angria, and Gaaldine) that they continued to work on even in their adult years.
One need not even create one's own world to work with paracosms; Clive Thompson wrote an interesting article discussing paracosms as they appear in the form of fan fiction, and indeed, one can build incredible fantasy worlds using another author's template.
The Importance of Paracosms
Why are paracosms important? After all, many associate fantasy worlds and imaginary friends associated with immaturity. Why should we make an effort to return to childhood daydreams and fantasies?
Truth is, paracosms have always been valuable. Consider all of the great works of fiction we would not have if paracosms did not exist. If all people refused to create elaborate imaginary worlds in their heads, we would be denied an unimaginable amount of entertainment.
Paracosms, Intelligence, and Creativity
One need not be a novelist or screenwriter to benefit from paracosms, of course. Developing fantasy worlds may aid one's creativity. One study by Michigan State found that an unusually high proportion of individuals who have won MacArthur Fellowships created paracosms when they were younger, and several experts have come to associate paracosm play with high levels of creativity and intelligence.
So don't be afraid to revisit your childhood fantasy lands, or build new ones. If you don't know where to turn, take a leaf out of the world's millions of fanfiction stories and work within the world of one of your favorite books or movies.
You will sharpen your creativity, learn how to work well given unique constraints and requirements, and have a splendid time!
Many of us lack creativity because we choose to view problems from a fixed perspective. One of the easiest means by which one can view problems (and broader changes and developments) in a new light is by creating metaphors for them.
Simply make a habit of developing one metaphor each and every day. For example, as you commute home from work or run errands, try to find a good metaphor for your city's public transit system. Are the roads blood vessels in a human body? What is the heart? What are the red blood cells? To what part of the body does your vein (rather, your bus or train or road) take you?
By crafting one new metaphor each day, you will find it easier to create metaphors on demand to help you think through new problems and challenges with a more open-minded, creative, and effective mindset.
Thinking Like a Child
Children are amongst the most creative people in the world, hence one particularly effective way to foster creativity is to take on a child's perspective. While the process of returning to one's open-minded childhood years might seem particularly difficult, sometimes all it takes is a couple hours spent with one's kids, nieces, nephews, or grandchildren. Don't know where to start? Play some games! Go on a day trip! Spend some time building forts! You'll be surprised by how much just a couple hours spent with your younger friends can change the way you view the world.
One need not spend time with kids to begin looking at things from a child's perspective, of course. Reading children's' books and watching children's' movies, and just spending time watching kids run around theme parks, libraries, and malls can offer great insights.
Don't forget that, regardless of external contact or influence, we all have an inner child to draw upon. By going through old albums and journal entries, looking at old drawings and toys, and talking with childhood friends, one might remember the different manner in which one thought and viewed the world all those years ago.
Share your opinion!
Which creativity-boosting method is your favorite?
Take Time to Relax
Have you ever been struck by sudden inspiration? Has the solution to a complex problem suddenly hit you? Where were you when this happened?
Chances are you weren't sitting in your office or staring at a computer screen full of work or windows. Most people tend to have their most creative moments away from common tasks and distractions- on a long walk, for example, or in the shower.
One final (and incredibly simple) way to become more creative, therefore, is to take time out to relax and escape from distractions. Make a point of setting aside some time each day to turn off or flee from your devices. Go for a walk. Meditate. Lie down. Leisurely read a book. Gaze out a window. Doodle in a sketchbook. You may be surprised by how productive this 'down time' can be!
Enjoy Your Newfound Creativity
By playing with paracosms, using metaphors, thinking like a child, and taking time to relax, you can most certainly boost your creativity, and in turn, create better solutions, work more efficiently, and lead a more enjoyable life.
Is there anything else you have done that has helped you to become more creative? Tell us about it in the comments below!