What it takes to be a creative thinker?

What it takes to be a creative thinker? Glory Anna explores this question in details in her article How To Be A Better Creative Thinker, destroying an existing stereotype that creativity is a gift exclusive for the ones born this way. The author examines different types of thinking and teaches the readers how to turn creativity into a ‘viable and renewable resource’ by making it a way of living and solving problems. According to Robert Sternberg and Wendy M. Williams, the authors of How to develop student creativity, there are three types of thinking applied to creative work:

  1. Analytical ability — the process of analyzing the ideas and considering the possible outcomes.
  2. Synthetic, or creative, ability — the process of generating ideas.
  3. Practical ability — the ability to apply theoretical knowledge to life

There is also another classification which divides thinking into two categories:

  1. Divergent thinking, or elaborating ideas.
  2. Convergent thinking, or evaluating ideas to find the most suitable ones.

Generally, Glory Anna defines creative thinking as an ability to think of the ideas in an “out of the box way”, to see them from a different perspective to find innovative solutions. She points out it is possible to develop this skill by learning its important key traits including brainstorming and reframing. Brainstorming is basically acknowledging all your ideas no matter how useless or stupid they initially seem without being afraid of failing or looking lesser than you are. Reframing is all about changing your first interpretation and opening up your mind to new points of view. Being aware of these attributes allows you to approach to problem solving in a different way and develop your creativity.

Furthermore, there are various techniques that can help you become a better creative thinker that are described in the article. The first one is Habit and Ritual technique. Psychologist and psychometrician Robert Sternberg claims creativity is a habit that can be developed via strong consistent routine. In other words, you have to commit yourself to donate some time to being creative daily/weekly/etc. to habituate your mind to it. Another way is to create a ritual consisting of a set of actions that will be a signal to your brain it is the time to create. It works because our mind has automatic responses to fixed-actions patterns familiar to it. These two techniques provide an easier and more natural creative process.

Mind Mapping, a form of visual note taking, can also be helpful in terms of creative thinking. Organizing your ideas by making an associative pattern leads our mind to fresh solutions. One can also try Role Play, which allows him or her to reinterpret the ideas by looking at them for an alternative perspective. Another form of creative thinking is Insight, or “creative eureka”, when an answer just comes to your mind. Stimulating your mind by using these techniques helps to generate the ideas even when you are stuck.

Steve Jobs once said that creativity is not about doing, but about seeing something so the solution becomes obvious to a person. To develop our natural ability to generate new ideas we need to change our perception of creative thinking and literally teach our mind to find innovative solutions.

As for me, a few years ago creative thinking was something that happened randomly. I found it rather difficult to generate ideas on purpose, but immersing into a creative process was a great help. ‘Appetite comes with eating’ worked for me perfectly well, allowing me to find new solutions and create. You can never reach your goal until you start working on it. However, a while ago I decided that it was the time to face this problem and teach myself to think creatively when I need to. The most useful technique that still helps me all the time when it comes to creativity is brainstorming via mind mapping. Generating as many ideas as I can and writing them down is the easiest way for me to find the right approach to the problem. While examining the question, I try to see it from different perspective, as it was advised above, and try to apply all the ideas to my work.

The most destructive thing I can think of in terms of creativity is the assurance that you just cannot be creative. The point is that you need to truly believe you are able to find a unique solution, and then you will come up with it, no matter how long it might take. I think it is necessary to avoid the most obvious and already existing answers. Don’t be afraid to break the rules because they can be a great foundation but should not restrict your creativity.

I also find it essential to develop myself in different spheres to make up a good foundation for my future discoveries. Creativity is not about making something out of nowhere but about connecting things together and seeing the links between ideas that don’t even seem close to each other. It is extremely useful to observe and analyze the world around you to see more than all the people surrounding you. I try to constantly remind myself to question the reality and find various explanations to what’s going on. Why does it happen? What would happen if I changed something? The answers can be surprising.

Sometimes we are just too afraid to be creative, looking for excuses why we are not able to think of something innovative. Overcoming this fear is a key to success in coming up with new ideas. We all need to dive into creative process making it our way of thinking, our lifestyle. And the more you create, the easier it is to make your mind work.

It is possible to teach yourself to be creative, and I think it is absolutely vital in the modern world with its information economy. Learning the techniques described above can help to develop one’s creativity and make it a way of living and thinking.


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