Imagination is more important than knowledge. – Albert Einstein
Remember when you were little and the best gift of all was a large cardboard box?
That box could be anything from a small family home to the vanguard of an intergalactic attack fleet. With a few hastily drawn lines in permanent marker — and a wild imagination — we could go anywhere and be anything.
If you were given an empty box to play with today, would you find as many fascinating uses as you could back then?
As adults we tend to keep our imaginations locked in tightly controlled boxes — in case of emergency break glass.
We even schedule “brainstorms” as if it’s only appropriate to free our minds at a given time and in a specific environment. Are we afraid of what might happen if our imaginations come unglued?
It is only by being creative that we can create anything remarkable.
Like our writing muscles, our imaginations need regular attention and exercise if they are to serve us well. It’s so easy to get stuck on rails, doing what we always do, thinking the way we always think, producing what we always produce. Occasionally we need to break out of the norm and expand our repertoire, think differently, and keep our imaginations well-oiled.
Next time you need to create something new and original, try these creativity-boosting techniques:
- Connect the DotsFind connections between seemingly unrelated concepts such as a cardboard box and copywriting.
- Change Your PerspectivePut yourself on the other side of an argument, or imagine yourself as a spectator. Even more wild, what would the world be like from the perspective of a small child, or even a paper clip?
- Switch ModalityIf you tend towards the visual, attempt to think in terms of words and feelings. Writers habitually emphasize words so grab some crayons and draw instead. Logical left-brain people might spend time daydreaming to gain a fresh perspective, while intuitive right-brain people might try to solve a complex puzzle.
When you challenge yourself to use your brain in an unusual way, those creative juices truly start flowing. And it’s usually then that you arrive at an insight that has real potential.
What methods do you use to begin a creative project? Join us on LinkedIn to talk about them.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published on August 7, 2007