Have you ever been asked, “How did you come up with that idea?” Whether from a project you worked on previously or a simple household item, good ideas can come from the most unexpected of places.
Creativity is an important asset, no matter the field or occupation. But there are times when even the most creative person can get stuck and feel like their ideas are not flowing like they used to.
In this post, we provide some tips for igniting your imagination and keeping those creative juices flowing.
A concept map is a visual diagram used to organize information. It is oftentimes used to expand and explore a single concept. A single idea is then elaborated upon to find associated ideas. These associated ideas then branch out to another level of ideas.
Concept mapping is especially effective for creative designers. It is a unique and simple method for coming up with ideas to present to a client for his or her perusal.
However, to be successful in concept mapping, you have to develop your own style. Concept mapping allows you to use keywords or images as a way to create your own set of rough notes.
Alternatively, you can use color coding schemes, a numbering system, a simple outline or diagrams in the form of different shapes.
A concept map can elicit creative ideas by using keywords and associated concepts to inspire you to make new connections between seemingly unrelated ideas.
If you don’t have much time, a simple keyword concept can go a long way.
Concept mapping is an effective technique for inspiring new ideas. However, there are times when you may not feel convinced by the ideas you have.
If you are in the design industry, getting stuck can never be an excuse. And when you do find yourself hitting a dead end and unable to generate your own ideas, then it’s time to learn from the best and from people in your field who overcame obstacles and succeeded (and also failed).
Find inspiration in people you follow. Today’s social media platforms allow you to stay up to date with what industry leaders are up to. Visit those pages and get some ideas you can spin to generate new ones.
Google, Yahoo and Bing. The power of search engines has never been so great. They can overwhelm you with tons of new ideas and websites to scour.
Read old books and magazines. Revisit your textbooks and read as much as you can. Be the type of person who continually updates knowledge in your field or even introduces a new concept.
It takes a creative mind to produce a great design, but it takes a persistent mind to scour the web and other resources to come up with fresh and innovative ideas.
Before Einstein, Coltrane and Edison were experts in their fields, they were simply ordinary individuals who conducted a great number of experiments. They were ridiculed and mocked for their ideas, but they never gave up.
They allotted numerous hours to reading and consuming knowledge to the point of insanity. They never stopped trying to figure things out and look for answers to their questions, until the day came when all the internalized readings and digested knowledge made sense and produced tangible results.
To fully exploit all the knowledge you possess, you have to master the art of exposition, which is nothing more than the habit of explaining things back to yourself.
Try, for example, listening to an inspirational video on the web. The video may take only 10 to 15 minutes of your time, but it can answer many questions and give you great insight into a complex topic.
Attempt to teach what you learned from the video to another person. You will find that you didn’t quite grasp everything there is to know about the process you just watched.
If you take the time to let your mind internalize the information, you can then explain these concepts back to yourself, and you will find it easier to share your knowledge with other people.
Similarly, in the world of design, if you fail to understand the goal and main concepts behind the design, you are at a great risk of failing to deliver what your client expects from you.
Simply put, if you grasp everything there is to understand behind a concept, you can save time by working straight through on a given task instead of interrupting your work every time a simple concept is unclear to you.
Creativity requires openness to new ideas. Whether it’s a good idea you can improve upon or a seemingly bad idea that doesn’t seem very promising at all.
We can learn from the likes of Einstein and Edison. Despite the fact that they had to complete a series of experiments to prove their theories, they were never disheartened. They persisted and welcomed new ideas and tested them with patience until they had their breakthrough moment.
The more you welcome new ideas–both good and bad–the more options you get. You should not flat out reject ideas when they fall outside of your comfort zone.
Remember, a creative person is one who is not restrained by any particular standard but who is always willing to think outside of the box, explore, try out new things, commit mistakes, learn from those mistakes and continually improve.
Do you have “a-ha” moments? Those light-bulb moments in which you suddenly realize something or you finally find an answer to a question that’s been on your mind for a while. These are the moments we all relish; when a brilliant idea is born and a great project is in the making.
What is actually happening in these moments is that you are retrieving and piecing together an old memory and reusing that information. How can you get more of those “a-ha” moments? Simple. Keep asking yourself questions.
The point here is this: You cannot figure out something new if you keep asking yourself the same question over and over again. Be creative. Ask yourself new questions in different ways. Or you can ask a question and imagine how your friends would each respond differently.
Similarly, ask a question and imagine how someone with a radically different outlook than yours would answer the question. What would their approach be different? What would make their solution more practical? Or their methods easier?
Mastering this technique will help you explore alternative perspectives and find many more creative solutions besides those informed by your own point of view. Instead of one creative solution, you will end up with five or more, depending on the number of perspectives you attempt to explore.