In order to grow as a creative thinker, you have to practice creativity! Even though you may not be aware of it, you are practicing creativity everyday. We can do this through broad practice (see the post Creativity Is For Everyone), or we can set aside time daily or weekly to challenge ourselves with specific exercises and puzzles!
Try different exercises, especially ones that feel more foreign or daunting to you! Stepping out of your comfort zone can expand your mind and allow you to make new connections. Just like learning any new skill, you will get better through practice.
"Creativity can come when you are quieting your brain and acting on impulse or when you are actively using your brain to focus and find solutions."
Exercises to try:
Stream of Consciousness Writing
Sit down with a pencil and paper or on your computer. Set a timer for 3, 5 or 10 minutes. Challenge yourself to write for the entire duration, allowing your thoughts to flow through you. Don’t stop to edit. It doesn’t matter what you’re writing about, just allow yourself to be open to whatever naturally pops into your head!
Pick any topic or object and see how long you can talk about it without stopping!
Stream of Consciousness Painting
Let yourself be impulsive and paint/draw without planning. You can do this exercise with a canvas and paint or with a paper and colored pencils/markers.
Move your body however you want. Dancing allows us to express our emotions and use/create energy. There are an infinite amount of ways to move or make shapes with your body. Turn on some music and let yourself dance without thinking.
30 Circles Challenge
Start by drawing 30 circles on a piece of paper. Set a timer for 3 minutes and within that time see how many different things you can turn those circles into. Try it again with 30 squares, triangles, etc! (For more in depth instructions visit ideo.com)
Solving riddles or puzzles is a great way to test your creativity and exercise your mind! (See womansday.com for a list of riddles)
Home Fashion Show
Pick a theme and try to put together three outfits that work. Theme suggestions: monochrome (whole outfit is one color), power clash (mix and match patterns and prints) or avant-garde (the most elaborate, unusual outfit you can create).
Paper Clip Test
Name an object and try and think of how many irregular uses you can come up with for it. This exercise is traditionally done with a paperclip however, any object is fair game.
Use only the ingredients you have on hand to make a delicious meal. Experiment with your seasonings to create interesting flavor profiles!
Haikus are short poems written in the format of 5 - 7- 5 syllables. Challenge yourself to create within this structure.
Cut images out of magazines or books and arrange them in a collage. Think of these cutout images as puzzle pieces that can fit together in any configuration! Lay them out on your coffee table and arrange them any way you want. Take a picture and start again.
Creativity can come when you quiet your brain and act spontaneously or when you actively use your brain to focus and find solutions. The exercises above provide really wonderful opportunities for both.