52 exercises to stimulate creativity, playfulness and innovative thinking
Whatever our job title, our work will always benefit from new ideas and fresh ways of thinking. We’re used to regarding inspiration as something that arrives more or less at random; it is in fact a skill that we can learn to develop in ourselves and call on whenever we need it.
Inspiration is a toolkit for generating new ideas: 52 exercises designed to foster an inventive frame of mind. With this to hand, we have no more need to wait for inspiration to strike; we can kindle it and deploy it as we require it. Each exercise prompts us to work on a particular creative muscle and helps us to establish the psychological conditions for original work. Drawing insights from the worlds of art, music, psychotherapy and innovation, this is an invaluable resource for creatives and professionals alike, helping our minds to become more reliable lightning rods for our numerous flashes of inspiration.
Removing distractions and external stimuli can allow our mind to wander more freely. That’s why ideas tend to come to us in the shower, or just before we fall asleep. Sensory deprivation tanks are an extreme (and expensive) way of quieting the outside world. Create your own makeshift sensory deprivation tank. Find a spare office or free room and close the door. Turn out the lights, close the shutters or blinds, and switch off any electrical appliances. If it’s still noisy, use ear plugs or play white noise through some headphones. Stay in there for at least 10 minutes, or as long as you like. Use the time and space to think about your project – or try to think about nothing at all, and allow your mind to drift.
Paint Like a Child
Pablo Picasso spent his career developing his painting in an increasingly abstract direction. Near the end of his life, he remarked that although he was a technically accomplished painter at fifteen, ‘it look me a lifetime to paint like a child.’ Try to recall the person you were at five years old. How might you look at your work differently? What might strike you as humdrum, and what as exciting? What rules might you be prepared to break to honour the fiveyear-old you?
1. Select an exercise at random from the box.
2. Follow the instructions and complete the exercise, either on your own or as part of a group.
3. If you’re still stuck, select another – and keep going until a given project no longer feels so daunting.