Cards inspire creativityI must have run across Roger von Oech at an IABC conference years ago. He’s an author and inventor who has been giving seminars, workshops and presentations on creativity since 1977, although he doesn’t specifically point to IABC on his website.

His name came to light the other day when an indie colleague, Daria Steigman (met on Twitter via IABC), referred to von Oech’s “Creative Whack Pack.” I remembered having a Whack Pack of my own, and dug it out of my desk. Mine is paper, but there’s now an iPad and iPhone app, or you can get a whack of the day — a prompt to help you think more creatively — from the website.

That day, the Creative Whack was to trust your problem to your subconscious. It’s a method I use, if not always intentionally. Before falling asleep, for instance, my subconscious fires up and works away at the various projects on my mind. It sometimes suggests great questions to ask in my next interview, or a brilliant way to lead into a story (I just need to remember the brilliance the next day).

Here are some other suggestions to spur your creativity:

  • Go for a walk. The same behind-the-scenes problem-solving as trusting your subconscious is often at work during daily walks, the kind of mental break that encourages creative thinking.
  • Exercise. Psychology Today says “Sweat is like WD-40 for your mind — it lubricates the rusty hinges of your brain and makes your thinking more fluid.”
  • Let your “genius lounge” (isn’t that a great term?) run in the background while the rest of your brain is occupied with physical tasks like laundry or dishes, says Inc.
  • Break out of your routine, says von Oech in the card I opened today. Following the same routine makes it difficult to think about it in any other way. “Have ice cream for breakfast,” he says. “Work the weekend, take the week off.”
  • Read something to spark new ideas, says Psychology Today.
  • Keep asking questions about a problem or situation. Fast Company says you pull any idea you have out of your memory, so ask yourself different questions to come up with different ideas.
  • Sign up for a class in something you know nothing about. Inc. says “Creativity flourishes when you push yourself outside of your comfort zone and learn something new.”
  • Find inspiration in other unrelated areas or industries. Apparently both Southwest Airlines and British Airways have improved maintenance and refueling time by studying race car pit stops.

How do you give your creative head a shake? Please share in the comments.

Related reading:
Flex your creativity with truly awful writing (the infamous Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest)