Creative Thinking Techniques

This section is a blatent rip off of random content I found that outlines what I want to distill.

Mind Mapping: Visual Creative Thinking

 

Mind mapping is a term coined by Tony Buzan to describe a creative thinking process that he has made world-famous. Tony Buzan is a brilliant teacher and author of many books on creativity, learning and memory, and mind mapping is his finest contribution to the world. It is a brilliant method of putting your thoughts into a visual format that encourages and fosters the process of thinking creatively -- and it is a great study aid too. Mind mapping has it's origins in history. Leonardo da Vinci used visual mapping thinking techniques and the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson invented a creative thinking process called Nuclear Shorthand which was a forerunner to mind mapping. Tony Buzan though has refined and maximised the effectivness of the technique and given us the mind map -- an invaluable and primary tool for every creative thinker to use regularly.

How to do Mind Mapping For Creative Insights 
You'll need some large sheets of paper and some colored pens (or you could use one of the new highly functional mind-mapping software programs). In the centre of your paper, you note down your starting thought, key idea or creative challenge. Now, you have a choice you can either systematically explore sub-ideas or you can just let your mind freeflow and use your mindmap to keep track of the ideas as they pop into your head. I recommend you do both at different times.

The systematic approach to mind mapping involves creating branches out from your central idea, labelled with sub-ideas that relate to the central idea. So if you were mindmapping on the subject of, say, videoblogs... your central circle would say Videoblogs, then you would create branches off with sub-ideas such as Blogging Software, Video Equipment, RSS, Program Ideas, etc. This systematic approach can often end up being simply a way of creating a map of your knowledge of a subject -- but just seeing it in this format frees your mind to think creatively, laterally, dynamically on the subject.

The free flowing approach to mind mapping is almost like the classic scene of the psychologist giving his subject a free association exercise. You start with your central idea on the mind map and you see what comes to mind next and you add that to the map with a branch line from the central idea to the new idea with a circle around the new idea. If that idea sparks other thoughts, you add lines and circles from the new idea to note down the other thoughts too. If you reach a dead end, you may go back to the central idea or to any other sub-idea that has occurred to you. This is easier to practice than to describe!

While Tony Buzan encourages the use of colored pens and little drawings as well as words on the mindmap, you'll find what approach works best for you. Mind mapping is an extremely adaptable and useful too for creative thinking. You can use it on the fly or you can sit down and have a more formal session perhaps using mindmapping software. I find that with a pen and a piece of paper, I can rapidly fill a sheet of paper with dozens of ideas around a particular subject area. This is great for all kinds of uses but I find it useful for coming up with ideas for articles, books or business ventures. What will YOU use mind mapping for?

 

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Creative Thinking With Notebooking

A simple way to stimulate your creative thinking 
and capture your best ideas...

Notebooking -- Portable memory bank for your creative thinking

 

Notebooking is a really simple way to unleash your genius for creative thinking.

We call it notebooking because it involves getting a notebook and jotting down the thoughts and observations that meander through your mind during the day. This simple practice spurs your mind into greater creative thinking.

Go to your local supermarket or corner store and grab yourself a handy little notebook. It should be small enough to easily slip into your coat pocket or handbag. I've got one that has a little elastic band attached to it that slips over the front cover and keeps it secure when I am carrying it around.

You'll also need a pen or pencil that you can carry easily, like a Bic.

Okay. So your task is to start jotting down your observations... and your goal to get you in the habit of doing this, is to write 30-50 things down a day. You can do more, but don't do any less - at least to begin with. Now don't worry, although this may sound like a lot, you are really just making fleeting notes.

Leonardo Da Vinci used notebooking to do his creative thinking in and capture his ideas and observations

The fact is that great ideas pass through your head all the time, and you entertain them without really being fully conscious of them... you just don't recognise the value of them and it is so easy to forget them and lose them forever.

With your notebook you will capture these ideas. But your focus is also upon observation.

So, you might be walking along the sidewalk and suddenly notice a dandelion that has pushed up between the cracks of the paving slabs - and you are hit by that "bright defiant splash of yellow" that contrasts so vividly against the dirty grey paving ... so you whip out your notebook, and write down something like:

Dandelion, bursting through the prison walls, bright defiant splash of yellow

... or whatever your particular observation about it is.

Portable Memory Bank - carry around, and use, a notepad, index card, postits, even a pocket tape recorder, to capture and reinforce having each idea or thought or observation. Each one you capture, reinforces and sharpens your faculties and each of the hundreds you're always letting slip away unnoticed, dulls your faculties...

Win Wenger

 

What you are doing is:

1. Training your mind to be more observant

2. Telling your mind that these observations and thoughts are important to you (important enough for you to note them down)

3. Providing a sense of inner space for ideas to flow and an inner security that you will recognise them and acknowledge them by writing them down.

The results this practice will have on you:

 

  • You will become more observant
  • Your intelligence will increase because you are capturing more information, becoming sharper and making more neural connections
  • Ideas will stream into your mind on a regular basis
  • Your creativity with words and images will definitely increase

    The best times to practice notebooking:

  • All the time!
  • When going for a walk (or run, but its harder to notebook running!)
  • When deliberately focussing on a particular creative challenge - your observations may seem completely unrelated to your challenge at first but press on... the brain has its own mystery and you'll never fully understand the way it makes creative associations.

    Creative thinking with notebooking is a great technique for generating ideas - for art, for music, for writing, for business, for profit, for life!

    Da Vinci Creative Thinking notebook

Are you making creativity too hard?

Do you believe it takes something, or someone, extraordinary to have a life-changing idea? Does the challenge to be creative make you go weak at the knee? Do you 'come over all funny' when you are pressed for fresh ideas? Creative thinking has become associated in our minds with 'genius' and we tend to associate the idea of genius with people who aren't like you and me. We think of mad geniuses or evil geniuses locked away in their ivory towers doing marvellous or diabolical deeds in their labs or studios. Or maybe you think of creative types as weirdos, eccentrics or dangerous-to-know types -- again, people that are different from you and me. Or maybe to you creativity falls in the realm of the scholar, the scientist, the super clever people of the world. All these distinctions push creativity away from us and make creative thinking seem hard, alien and out of our ordinary realm of existence.

I'm here to tell you that you are way off base if you have even a smidgen of that kind of mentality. I'm here to tell you that creative thinking is easy -- easy peasy lemon squeezy! And that YOU are perfectly equipped right now to be an outstanding, brilliant, dynamic creative thinker!

Change the Lens 
If you want to discover the delights of easy peasy creative thinking, the first thing you need to do is unpick that big steaming pile of doo-doo that is your concept of creative thinking being hard, difficult, or alien to you. And start to run with the idea that creative thinking is easy. Just try it on. It's amazing how adopting a new belief system can reboot your biocomputer and get your innate creativity programs running again. This simple little attitude adjustment reframes the way you approach life -- and, in essence, gives your brain permission to be creative. It sounds simplistic? Hey I did say 'easy peasy' creative thinking, right?! It is simplistic. It works. Do it.

Use The Tools 
Right, you've re-jigged your being and reminded your inner self that you da man (or the Mamma) when it comes to creativity, so here's a big fat juicy clue to getting creative - use the tools. There are loads of really easy ways to access your creativity and the obvious, super common sense one to apply first of all is to... er... start THINKING!

Yes, that's right now you too can use the all marvellous human brain for thinking creatively about just about anything you want! Here's how that works. You say, "I want to come up with a great idea for promoting my business." And you start thinking about that. Or you might want to tackle a biggie. "I want to help solve the homeless problem in my city -- what could be done about that?" And you start thinking about that. You get the picture? It's all about focus!

The creative human brain is a stimulus response biomachine. If you don't give it some stimulation and a purpose it just sits there picking it's teeth. However, as soon as you ask it a question, and demonstrate that you are serious about getting an answer, then it shifts into turbo-gear and happily goes to work for you.

The way you demonstrate to the brain that your request is serious is by listening, paying better attention and recording your new thoughts. All of these show the brain that this is IMPORTANT. And it focusses on delivering what you want. So go ahead, figure out what you want, and start thinking about it and see what you can come up with. Write it down. Carry notebooks around with you to record your insights, ideas and revelations. That's super easy peasy creative thinking, isn't it?

Flap Your Wings 
You can stalk around in the bushes of creative thinking, but if you really want to fly, you gotta flap your wings! Turn up the heat, turn up the volume, turn up the intensity on your quest to be more creative. Now this doesn't sound that easy, but think about when you hear a snatch of music that you recognise come over the radio. It's that fast beat dance track that you love. And you think... "Oh baby, I just GOTTA dance!" And there you are getting your freak on, dancing, twisting, kicking and waving your legs around like you've got a rocket in your pocket! Well, we want to be like that where your excitement for thinking, brainstorming and generating new creative ideas gets your brain moving like that dance music. You want to be firing on all cylinders. The way to get into that is to make sure you do your creative thinking when you are fresh and feeling tip-top. Then you want to aim for a quota of ideas to be generated. That can be quantity or quality ...probably both. If you get in with a gang of fellow creative thinkers then your brainstorm power will grow exponentially. You'll get caught up in the fever and excitement and competition of creating new ideas, new possibilities, new thoughts that could change your world. And that high, which is just like being in love for the first time, will push you to rareified heights of imagination. Who knows what YOU will come up with in that expanded state. But I promise you this... it will seem effortless and easy.

Slap Your Face, Tickle Your Fancy 
When it comes to being creative, and thinking creatively the biggest obstacle to it is this walking sleep that we all fall into which is everyday living. Habit lulls us into unconscious dull living. Now habit is neccessary to streamline our lifestyles. It saves time. But habits of thought and particularly habits of switching off and doing the minimum turn us into zombies. You know what I am talking about, don't you? The getting home from work. Reaching for the fridge every day, for your snack. Flipping on the TV because you just have to get your TV fix to relax. It's basically that Groundhog Day feeling of deja vu, everything being the same day after day, and that numb state of boredom where the brain goes onto standby.

We have to obliterate that!!

So give yourself a mental slap in the face and shout Wakey-Wakey. Find some way of tickling yourself out of that day of the living dead state of mind. One of the simplest ways of doing this is to just do the opposite of what you would normally do. Use your left hand instead of your right. Walk backwards instead of forwards. Turn off the TV. Do some jumping jacks instead of slumping into the couch. And above all, change the direction of your thoughts. Stop your mind from proceeding down the rutted path that it follows each day. Ask yourself, What am I doing? Why am I doing this? Is this the best way of doing this? Is there something better I could be doing with my time here? Can I improve this? and so on.... Questions are a great way of throwing a spanner in the works and bringing the machinery of habit to a shuddering, shrieking halt. When the habit machine stops you get to take a good look at it and think if it could be operated better.

 

Awareness of this state of sloth and of its opposite (the state of being awake, alive, vital and brimming with ideas and new perspectives), is often all that is needed to bring the desired state into being. You become more creative by noticing that you aren't being very creative... and deciding to do something about it.

Easy peasy methods of getting creative? 
Write your thoughts out in journals. Record your observations. Take time apart to think about challenges and how you could approach them. Get coloured pens and draw, doodle, sketch, make notes in mind map form, jot your thoughts with little diagrams. Start singing when you are engaged in other things, make up little songs. Jot down little poems or snatches of rhyme that come to you. Think up jokes and tell them to someone -- children make good audiences (my son is the recipient of all my terrible puns and one liners). Draw a picture. Do another one. Try and make it good enough to stick on your wall. Good enough, not perfect, good enough. Learn something new. Record your dreams. Notice more and more of the detail of your dreams. How extraordinarily creative your dreaming mind is! To think that you come up with all that while you are sleeping -- how easy peasy is that?!

As you travel around, look at things and think about how they were made, why they were made and what function they perform. Question everything, be curious as to how it works, and be especially curious as to what might happen if you added this to that, and that to this.

Basically, your easy peasy creative thinking method is about giving yourself permission to be creative, to think creatively. And you do that by giving yourself more opportunities to be creative in as many ways as possible. By doing so, you will experience an amazing surge of energy, a feeling of being alive and filled with enthusiasm. Creativity is the juice of life, the raw bouncy current of electric living. By embracing your inheritance as a creative human being, you open yourself to new vibrant life -- and it feels good!