Saturday, August 4, 2012

Saturday Smorgasbord: Creative Exercises

What is Saturday Smorgasbord?

Gurus and leading experts act like there's only one way to succeed. I believe there are so many ways to accomplish things that it's silly to narrow yourself to just one path.

So every Saturday I will list all the options, techniques and ways to accomplish various things from marketing your business to losing weight.

There is a Smorgasbord of tools at your disposal, why pick just one?


This Week's Saturday Smorgasbord: Creative Exercises

Learning how to be more creative is far from an exact science in my opinion. I don't believe that creative people were simply "born creative". Creativity is a skill like any other and creativity doesn't only exist in one area of study, skill or industry. Some people might be naturally inclined toward creative thought but no matter what your core talents, skills or abilities are you can make creative leaps, solve a problem creatively or think of your work in a different way; all of which are creative skills.

Creativity is a way of thinking and so creative exercises give you practice thinking in a different way than you usually do. You've probably often heard the phrase "think outside the box". It's been so overused that it's somewhat lost its meaning. Basically, creativity is about thinking pass how you've been taught to think or what is "normal", "common", "comforting" or "conforming". There are many different kinds of creative exercises and for organizational purposes they fall into a handful of categories.

1. Thinking further - meaning instead of stopping at coming up with 3 possible solutions to a problem you come up with 100. Many brainstorming-type exercises fall in this category.
2. Thinking differently - instead of saying that a paper clip "holds paper together" you would possibly say "could be used as an instrument if you strum it". Association-type exercises are included here.
3. Thinking quickly - being creative involves letting go of judgement and pre-conceived notions so having less time to think of an answer forces you to use your instinct or gut reaction. The "Whats-the-first-thing-you-think-of-when-I-say-blank" would fall under this category.
4. As a means to an end - you aren't practicing creativity for creativity's sake but instead are trying to reach a goal such as "finding the perfect job" or "redecorating your bedroom". An example would be "If your bedroom was a country/animal/color/word what would it be?"
5. Creativity for creativity's sake - sometimes it's just plain fun to do a creative exercise.

Here are some more common creative exercises:
  • Creativity Board - this exercise is really great if you are starting a new project. It helps get you focused on the "feel" and "look". You simply take a poster board or matte board and glue magazine cut-outs that represent or help you "see" the finished product whether it's a color you like, illustration, object, style or texture.
  • Straight Brainstorming - This one is the simplest exercise in the world. This is great for if you are starting a new business and need to think of the name, or need to come up with alternative words or phrases or just simply need to dump all your ideas about a project or problem.
  • Finish the drawing - This exercise is really good for getting pass judgement and trying to control things. I can't find many downloaded exercises online but you can prepare these easily with the help of a friend. Have a friend start a drawing for you by making random doodles on a blank sheet of paper. Then you simply take a marker/pencil/pen/crayon and finish the drawing based on whatever comes to mind. This is best done under a time limit. Say 5 minutes, 1 minute or even 30 seconds or less.

On Your Own

To search from your own creative exercises I had the best luck with the following search words:
  • creative exercises
  • creative thinking exercises
  • creative thinking exercises for adults
  • creative games
  • creative thinking games
  • creative exercises for designers
  • creative exercises for artists
Also these places have some great exercises:
Remember: There is no magic pill for life. But we all have tools at our disposal. Pick the best one (two or three) for the job.

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