Get Your Best Ideas Before You Get Out of Bed A 5-Step Process to Creativity

As I
discussed in my previous article, “Crafting
Opens the Door to Creativity,”
are many routes to creativity and – contrary to what we were told as children –
no artistic talent is required for most of them.

you call it thinking outside the box, originality, or dynamic problem-solving,
creativity is simply a way of approaching puzzling situations and coming up with
solutions for them.

me, creativity means breaking old thinking patterns. It also means making new
connections. Perhaps a milk bottle used to look like just another milk bottle,
but suddenly you see that with a little paint and decoupage, it could become an
attractive lamp base. And that jar of peanut butter, hmm… what a pencil holder
it could make!

creativity means gaining new perspective on old problems. There’s nothing more
satisfying than breaking out of old mental ruts and coming up with a Plan B
when Plan A isn’t working.

As a
graduate student I took a course in problem-solving that has stood me in good
stead all my life. It taught me that solution-oriented thinking is nothing more
than a methodical process that can be learned.

years of observation and practice, I have come to believe that creative thinkers
are made – not born. And I have no doubt that you can be one of them, too.

me share a five-step process for creativity that works for me.

Set Out a Pad and Pencil Next to Your Nightstand

you keep writing utensils nearby, they will be easy to reach if you get
inspiration in the middle of the night. By morning you may not be able to
retrieve it.

Consciously Articulate What’s on Your Mind

you close your eyes, do a quick review of the issues on which you’d like to get
fresh insight. I have found that the brain works in mysterious ways, and while
you are sleeping it might very well be working on your dilemma du jour.

Dedicate the First Minutes of Each Morning to Creative Thinking

morning comes, force yourself to lie still in the dark and let your mind
wander.This is the time of day when your defenses haven’t arisen, and
negativity has not yet set in. By allowing a stream of consciousness to flow,
some seemingly random thought could make the lightbulb go off in your head.

Turn on the Light, Pick Up Your Pencil, and Start Writing

In The Artist’s Way and its sequel, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond, Julia Cameron recommends that every day you write out three pages of memoir, longhand – her much-heralded “morning pages.”

writing offers an opportunity to reflect on – and honor – past experience. This
book guides you through the daunting task of writing an entire memoir, breaking
it down into manageable pieces.

The morning
pages she suggests – private, stream-of-consciousness writing done daily – allow
you to express wishes, fears, delights, resentments, and joys, which in turn,
provide focus and clarity for the day at hand.

not so doctrinaire about the page count, but I agree with Ms. Cameron that this
morning ritual will unclog your mental and emotional channels and lead to being
happier, more productive, and more creative.

Finishing It Off

I’ve gotten my thoughts down on paper, I often like to conclude with action
steps. There’s something satisfying to me in “paying off” my ruminations with
do-able, concrete tasks.

you can keep your journal or tear up the pages you’ve just written; I’ve done
both. The purpose of the journaling is not to review your thoughts at some
later date, but to engage in the process in real time.

The more
you practice an organized problem-solving routine such as the one described
here, the better you’ll get at it. You’ll be unlocking your creative juices,
which will start to flow with thrilling speed.

longer intimidated by that undefinable and unattainable “something” called
creativity, you’ll find you’ve acquired a wonderful, new tool to help you make
this the most fulfilling time of your life.

do you get your best ideas? Do you like to work out the dilemmas of life by
talking to friends, taking long walks, or writing
them down? What issue in your life calls for “creativity” right now? Please
share your thoughts with our community!