In a recent meeting with a client, I was asked, “Where do (you) come up with these ideas?” I had to pause and think about it for a second.

“I just do.” I replied. Sometimes the creativity comes to me in a flash, while talking to the client. Other times, it takes draft upon draft of crap to get to the idea that I know is rattling around in the chasm I call my brain… but eventually it comes.

Some of my readers are “creatives.” Some of my readers aren’t. But after some pointed questions to a few of you, I found out that whether you’re a designer, a musician, a chiropractor, or an accountant; creativity will eventually work its way into your life and career (hopefully not so much my accountant).

Below, I’ve listed 15.5 solutions to try to get your creative juices flowing. Many, I practice religiously; some are suggestions from friends; but in any case, the collection is valuable.

1. Just start somewhere. Like I said above, sometimes it takes draft upon draft of crap to get to the idea you know is there

2. Surround yourself with creative people. Associate yourself with like-minded, creative thinkers. Through osmosis, the creativity will catch on with little pursuit from you.

3. Expose yourself … and not in the “After too much Jägermeister” sense. Expose yourself to new stimuli – art, books, music, and paintings – all the time. In other words, never stop learning. Consume information by the truck load. The more you know, the more you can create from that knowledge.

4. Meet new people from different walks of life. Gain insight into their perspectives on life. Strike up a conversation in line at Taco Bell. (I’ve actually landed a client with that one.)

5. Exercise “it” daily – Whatever “it” is, keep “it” healthy. I believe this applies to everything in life, not just creativity. If you only need to create once a week, your creative muscles may have atrophied. Don’t do it just because you have to.

6. Carry a notebook or sketchbook everywhere. A few years ago, a friend convinced me to start carrying a sketchbook. Now I carry two – one for “rough ideas and notes” and one for “more finished” sketches. PDAs don’t count. Pick up a pen or pencil and force yourself to write or draw or annotate WHATEVER. The actions stimulate the brain.

7. Create the path, but don’t necessarily follow it. As many writers have said, the blank page can be the biggest buzz-kill. Instead of trying to rely on pure inspiration, set your topic, outline, or theme and start creating within those guidelines. Think within the box while you create for yourself a path out.

8. Shut out the world. In contrast to#2, #3 and #4, instead of sucking in new information, sit quietly, go to sleep, or meditate. Stop thinking and clear your mind so that the clutter doesn’t get in the way of your thoughts. Turn off the phones. If you’re not on a tight deadline, walk away and do something completely unrelated. Don’t let yourself spend that time stressing about what you need to do.

9. Do something new. Try writing left-handed. Walk around your office with your shoes off (with the approval of your co-workers)… Try something out of the norm to get the “out of the norm” out of your head.

10. Don’t be too arrogant about your work. (one of my favorites) Being inspired by “the muse” is important, but if a police officer and a garbage man can do their jobs every day, then those in a creative line of work can too. Change your attitude towards your work. You’re not all that.

11. Don’t judge your ideas until you have plenty to judge. Silly ideas are still ideas… Don’t be embarrassed by yourself – just write them all down!

12. Keep a journal. (or blog) Like #6, it can get your mind working, and in a month, or a year, when you’ve gained some distance from what you’ve written you can reference back and gain additional ideas.

13. Don’t tell yourself you’re not creative. If you tell yourself not to come up with ideas, then you probably won’t – no matter how hard you try.

14. Don’t be a workaholic – take breaks. Your mind needs a chance to wind down so it doesn’t overheat and crash.

15. Spend time with your children. Or someone else’s. You’d be amazed at the creative insight derived from a gaggle of giggling kids.

15.5 Drink too much coffee (sometimes). My doctor made me add the “sometimes” part… It sounds ridiculous, but every once-in-while, it’s that big pick-me-up that gets me there…

So, there you have it. Some of these ideas will work for you. Some won’t. In any case, being creative is important in many facets of your daily life – whether it’s work, sports, family or something else. Without creativity, imagine how boring life would be. I guess, without creativity, you couldn’t imagine it…

So, how do you deal with creativity? Is it a process? Is it a gift from the angels on high? Or do you wince and cry, beating your fists on the desk, as I do from time-to-time (see picture above)?

I’d love to know more. Let’s see how long this list can be and add to the 15.5 ideas above.

Keep Cooking!

  1. Oftentimes, I’ll ask anyone around me for their opinion or ideas. Asking “non creatives” (I don’t actually believe they exist) helps me take a step back and stop over-thinking things.

  2. Beautiful article. My best ideas often come to me in a hot steamy shower — maybe the steam brings it out — or just the fact that you’re ‘shutting out’ the world for a few minutes to care for yourself frees up your mind to create solutions. It’s a mystery!

  3. Yes, Jennifer. I’m big believer in “changing your perspective” so-to-speak. I.E. – Robin Williams in “Dead Poet’s Society” having the students all climb to the top of his desk to look at their situation in a different way… Perfectly unique.

    As for there not being “non creatives,” I just posted an article on intrinsic creativity being quashed by society… So, so we have any solutions to foster “it,” or do we relegate our society to a gaggle of button-pushers with the occasional creative satellite?

    Great insight… Thanks for stopping by.

    Keep Cooking!

  4. Hi Elizabeth! White noise… Headphones… steamy shower… they all create great “mental blinders” for the creative juices to get flowing. My problem is that I never have a pen with me when that “A-Ha” idea hits me in the shower…

    Thanks for stopping by.

    Keep Cooking!

  5. Ever hear of Edward de Bono?

    de Bono has created several different thinking frameworks which all help and support creative thinking and driving innovation. The best for pattern breaking tools are Lateral Thinking. These are the tools you can lean on when the inspiration just isn’t coming or you are not happy with the quality or quantity of ideas you are generating. It’s great because its a process you can use at anytime either alone or with a group. If you want to know more go to

  6. Thanks Natalie –

    Yes, in my constant search for new creative approaches, I’ve run across the Innova Training website. Very interesting information, but being the VP, I’m sure you’ve had some really exciting experiences.

    Thanks so much for stopping by.
    Keep Cooking!