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How to Think Creatively: Part 4

source: formalsweatpants.com – “Goddess of Creativity”

Welcome to the last installment of How to Think Creatively!

I’ve been talking a lot about thinking creatively to solve challenges and problems in your life and career. Let’s talk a bit about inspiration and thinking outside of the box for creative projects. Let me show you a quick exercise you can do to become a more creative thinker. It involves a step-by-step creative process. I encourage mind mapping, note taking, whatever you find will help you remember this brainstorm session.

By the way, a quick side note: mind mapping  is a brilliant way to track your business, creative processes, and to generally organize thoughts. Google “mind mapping” and it will come up with tons of great mind mapping software. My favorite is MindJet (Try it out for 30 days. Not free after 30 days.) and my favorite FREE mind mapping software is XMind.

Okay, now to teach you about a step-by-step creative thinking process I like to use for projects.

STEP 1: Think of a subject, object, person, place, etc. that you like or the person/group you’re creating for. Describe its characteristics, qualities, physical appearance, etc. 

Example: Let’s use the Eiffel Tower as a source of inspiration. What characteristics or words describe the Eiffel Tower? Its structure is grand and elegant, its location is romantic, it’s a place people are often proposed to, so love is in the air, the view is magnificent, and the surrounding area has an old beautiful charm. You could even go as far as taking the Eiffel Tower as the initial source of inspiration and expand upon it. It’s in Paris, France, so describe the feelings you have about Paris, it’s characteristics. What other things remind you specifically of France? Think structures, food, transportation, fashion, language.

Essentially, you could spend a ton of time on step 1, branching out on each topic you think of.

STEP 2: Who is your audience? Who are you creating for?

If you are creating for yourself, this step is simple. However, if you are creating for an individual or group, this step takes a little more time. If you are creating something dealing with the Eiffel Tower, who are you going to market to?

Example:  Who are the people that admire the Eiffel Tower? People who have been to France, people who have been at the top of the structure, travelers, those who like European vintage, those who love structural beauty, people who have been proposed to at the location.

STEP 3: Brainstorm useful or beautiful items that can have the image of the Eiffel Tower (or conjures up images of France) that the above types of people would like.

Write down everything you can think of. Don’t limit yourself. Here are some examples:

  • Printed coasters
  • Decorative couch pillow (image of the Eiffel Tower or French words/phrase like “J’taime”)
  • Vintage posters or prints made in Photoshop, printed, and framed
  • Handbag
  • Magnets
  • Journal
  • Knitted beret
  • Mural
  • Calendar

Side note: I saw a charming lamp the other day with the Eiffel Tower as the base!

STEP 4: Now that you have your list, which of those things can you do? Can you learn how to do some of the others?

I’ve talked about getting out of your comfort zone. I believe we should attempt to get out of our creative comfort zone as well, which means learning NEW techniques and mediums. For example: You may be asking, “How exactly do you transfer an image onto a handbag?” Find out! If you have the resources, learn new skills. You never know where they might take you.

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This gist of all of this is to take something of inspiration and extrapolate its characteristics and expand on it. Let’s do a quick example. You picked up a leaf and you’re looking at the details. You notice the color, it’s shape, size, the lines and texture.

The color may inspire the color of yarn or paint you choose for your next project, the color of the felt you want to use to make felt leaves, the color you want your bedroom, or the Thanksgiving cloth napkins you want to make. The texture may inspire you to press it into a clay project for a bowl, vase, or plate or to make a rubber stamp. You may want to make a piece of jewelry the shape of a leaf, or place mats, or garland.

There are endless ways to take an ordinary object, structure, environment, or person, look at the details, and think of other possibilities for it. I hope that you try out this exercise.

Well folks, that’s the end of the “How to Think Creatively” series. I hope you learned something and/or felt inspired. If you have questions, think I should clarify something, let me know! Let’s work together for a common good that is creative thinking. I’d also love to hear how, where, when, and who you get your creative juices from or share your creative thinking secrets with us.

If you missed the other “How to Think Creatively” parts, you can find them here:

How to Think Creatively: Part 1

How to Think Creatively: Part 2

How to Think Creatively: Part 3

Happy creating, home philosophers!

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How to Think Creatively: Part 3

New Environment

source: enna.com

I mentioned in “How to Think Creatively: Part 1” to change up your environment and to seek new experiences and opportunities in order to not be stagnant with the same ideas and information. That’s what I’m going to talk about now.

We adapt to our native environments and learn to use certain skills and personality traits for each environment. We’re on mental auto-pilot, which is comfortable and familiar. However, think of when you travel or do something new, that new environment is forcing us to adapt to new people, a new culture, and a new way of thinking or behaving. We might begin to discover new aspects about ourselves, like new strengths, fears, and prejudices. It can be scary, but we become less frightened when we arm ourselves with knowledge about the unknown. And then we can master the unfamiliar to become a better-rounded individual. What other way is there to grow spiritually, mentally, physically aside from going off of auto-pilot and diverting from the usual?

Stimulate creativity by doing something different and possibly out of your comfort zone. You will create new connections and leverage those things around you. It will inspire new ideas, challenge old ideas, and draw into areas of your life that remain hidden in routine. Challenge yourself to do one of these things once a week, or every other week. It’s up to you to decide how often to engage yourself with new information and stimuli. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Visit a gallery or museum

Read a magazine you’ve never read (you can borrow tons of well-known magazines from the library)

Watch a foreign film

Write a poem

Eat an ethnic meal you’ve never had before

Talk to someone from another culture (visit ethnic grocery markets)

Think of a subject that interests you, go to the library, and check out books related to that subject

Go to your local Chamber of Commerce to see what’s going on around town and surrounding area

Go for an hour drive out of town on a route you’ve never taken (take your GPS just in case J)

Go for a walk in a neighborhood you’ve never walked in

Rearrange your furniture

Eat at a restaurant by yourself

Go to a movie by yourself

Get an account with StumbleUpon.com and stumble away

Go geocaching

Make a meal you’ve never made before

Write a letter to a friend you haven’t talked to in a while

Get a penpal (Google “penpal”)

Listen to a radio station you don’t ever listen to

Visit someone in a retirement home

Visit someone in a hospital

Volunteer for an organization

Go to a coffee shop, mall, large bookstore, etc. and people watch

Some of these will make you feel uncomfortable. Some of these will intrigue you and inspire you. Good! That’s the goal here. If you don’t want to do some of these alone, do it with your significant other or a friend (except for go to a movie and restaurant by yourself). Broaden yourself. If you like mundane, being stagnant, and not challenging yourself, that’s fine. But I imagine that if you’re still reading, you’re not like that all the time. The world, your very own city or town has so much to offer you if you would just let yourself go. Honestly, what is the worst that could happen?

If you missed the other How to Think Creatively parts, you can find them here:

How to Think Creatively: Part 1

How to Think Creatively: Part 2

Let me know in the comments about how you intend to grow as an individual in 2013. Or tell us some of your ideas about how to get out of your native environment.

Have a great January, home philosophers!

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How to Think Creatively: Part 2

Hi guys! It’s been awhile. I always underestimate the month of December and the amount of busy it brings. I am here now though with How to Think Creatively: Part 2. I really love this part because of how helpful it is for a variety of people. I think it will give you great ideas of how to approach challenges and get past those blocks.

Here is How to Think Creatively: Part 1 if you missed it.

How to Think Creatively: Part 2

You know those people (it may even be you) who say, “I think too much.” What exactly do they mean? It could mean several things.

  1. I’ve thought about this problem so much that I just feel even more stuck than before.
  2. I’ve thought about this problem so much that I just don’t even know what to do anymore.
  3. I’ve thought about this problem so much that it just makes me depressed.
  4. I’ve thought about this problem so much that I’m starting to become irrational.
  5. I’ve thought about this problem so much that I just feel overwhelmed now.

I’m sure there are many others. Everyone has their own meaning of what “I think too much” means. But is “thinking too much” such a bad thing as it may seem? We tend to think “too much” is an excess of something we don’t want. What we need to learn is how to compartmentalize all of those thoughts and remember to stay rational and as objective as possible.  I should also mention that those who “think too much” are in the creative process, they just might not know what to do with so much information to a variety of problems and blocks.

If you have several blocks, do you give each one its due diligence? Or do you go from thinking about one problem, to a potential solution for another problem, back to a different problem than the first two. See how it could get confusing? Information overload! Here’s what you should do:

Step 1: Identify a challenge. Give the proper amount of time to that challenge you’re having. It also helps to write down the problem and all of its potential ideas, solutions, decisions, etc. Then do the same for every other problem on a different sheet.

Step 2: Ask yourself better questions to gain better information and ideas about the challenge. If you’re a visual learner, write down these questions and answer them. Ask yourself:

What would happen if…?

What would NOT happen if…?

What would happen if I didn’t…?

What would happen if I did…?

Who could solve this problem?

Where can I get information to help me solve this problem?

How would I solve this problem if my life depended on it?

If I could wave a magic wand and fix this problem, what would happen?

What is one thing that would never work and why?

What is one thing that would work and why?

What is the most unusual idea you can think of for the problem?

If you woke up tomorrow and the problem was fixed, what would be different?

What would my best friend/parents/pastor/counselor/boss say?

If I was 20 years older, what would I say to my current self?

What resources do I need to solve the challenge?

How will the problem get worse if I don’t address it?

Step 3: Evaluate the information you’ve gathered. Go through the information and cultivate the potentially good ideas and figure out why the not-so-good ideas aren’t good ideas after all.

Step 4: List out what steps are necessary to accomplish your goal. Make your goal a SMART one. Is it…

SMART Goals

Step 5: Add deadlines to each step. This is exactly what ‘timely’ means. Break your primary goal down into mini steps by making daily, weekly, and monthly goals to reach your ultimate goal.

Step 6: If there are other people involved in your challenge, write down at what step they are responsible. You want to write down who is involved in each step in order to know who is holding you back and who is not.

Step 7: Schedule time to accomplish each step before its deadline. Don’t give yourself an excuse to procrastinate. If there is a step that takes time or you have to rely on other people to get that step done, this is the time to make sure time is scheduled and other people are aware of what their responsibility is and what your deadlines are. Make sure to be assertive and to keep boundaries.

Step 8: Evaluate where you are in the process every week or biweekly (whatever works for you). Go over your SMART goals and make sure everything still applies.

Step 9: Success! On to another challenge.

I guarantee you that if you ask yourself the above questions , you will build more information and be further ahead in ideas. If you utilize the questions with all, or most, of your challenges, they will become second nature and your creative thinking will develop.

Next week, I’ll talk about how we can get out of our comfort zone in order to stimulate creativity to provide us with more solutions and ideas.

Happy New Year, home philosophers!

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Two Blog Giveaways

TWO GIVEAWAYS!

I just wanted to let all the home philosophers know that I Heart Nap Time is doing two giveaways. Now for the details!

GIVEAWAY 1: $100 Gift Card to Staples

The first is is for a $100 gift card to Staples courtesy of Avery and BlogHer. Martha Stewart launched a holiday line at Staples, so if you win and buy anything Martha Stewart, you know you’re getting pretty classy stuff . You can enter that giveaway HERE. I’m receiving an entry to win just by blogging about the promotion. Yay! Oh, and HERE are just some of the cool Martha Stewart supplies.

Source: staples.com

 

GIVEAWAY 2: Silhouette Portrait

The second giveaway is for a Silhouette Portrait. It’s a an electronic cutting tool that prints out serrated shapes, letters, etc. for you to use in your crafts. You can watch a video to see how it works HERE. This machine would bring me much happiness in making homemade cards. No more hand cutting!

Source: iheartnaptime.net

Who doesn’t love some free stuff?

Now go enter, home philosophers! I’d be so happy if one of my readers won. Good luck!