HackSpace magazine

Finding new ideas

By Dr Lucy Rogers. Posted

For most of us, creativity is defined as being able to paint, draw, or write stories. I challenge that. Creativity is the ability to IMAGINE new things and to act on those thoughts.
Creativity is not innate. It’s not binary – it’s not that you have it, or you don’t. We have tendencies to do certain things, but creativity is a skill. And as a skill, it can be learnt, and it improves with practice.
Here are seven tricks that have helped my creativity:

1) Permission is granted. This was one of the most difficult things to get my head around. Perhaps you think you ‘should’ be doing something else, or that you’re not creative/good enough.

Do you give yourself permission to read a book, watch TV, go on social media? Then give yourself permission to be creative for fun.

2) Play, fun, fiddle. Find something and pick it up. Touch it. Hold it in a different way than normal. For example, if it’s a pen, grab it with your non-writing hand. Take that thing – pen, paper clip, cat – and imagine it’s an aeroplane. ‘Fly’ it around. By playing, by having fun, and by being silly, we unlock parts of our imagination that our ‘adult’ brains have tidied away.

3) Prolific and limitless. When I need to solve a problem, I make as long a list as possible of ways it could be solved – and then keep going, because sometimes it’s the ridiculous ideas that lead to a better understanding of the problem.

4) Copy, copy, create. I am never going to be able to emulate my creative heroes well enough to be mistaken for them, and I don’t try and pass my work off as anyone else’s – so it’s not plagiarism! By copying, you practice and, with practice, you will begin to find your own ‘voice’, your own style. And if you copy a few people, you won’t be the next Escher or the next Heath Robinson, but you will be the first YOU.

5) Change your perspective. Do you remember looking out of an aeroplane window and thinking the towns below look so different? Use a phone camera and zoom in, and see things from a different perspective. Get down and see things from an ant-eye view. Looking differently can change your mindset and jump you in to different ways of thinking.

6) Critical eye. Do you evaluate things? Do you think ‘ooh that’s good’, or ‘ooh that’s bad’, and then wonder what was it about it that was good or bad? It’s the ‘because’ that will help you develop. And finally,

7) FAIL, learn, and try. Are you scared of failing because you’ll look silly? Imagine if a toddler did that. ‘Oh, I won’t bother with this walking thing any more because I fell over last time.’

Try something that really isn’t you – I’ve tried ballet, (and discovered I liked it!), I’ve learnt how to use TikTok (and discovered I liked it), I tried to learn to fly (and discovered I got airsick.)

Creativity is the ability to IMAGINE new things, and to act on those thoughts.