This Is How You Become More Creative

Start With A Brick And A Blanket

Josh Spilker
Feb 6 · 4 min read
Photo by Thea Smc on Unsplash

Before you go any further, answer these two questions:

  1. Write down everything you can think of to do with a brick
  2. Write down everything you can think of to do with a blanket

That small test was made famous in the popular book, Outliers by Malcom Gladwell and it’s also the first step in becoming more creative.

Why?

The more answers you give, the more of a divergent thinker you are.

Divergent thinkers are ideas-focused. They start with a stimulating thought (brick, blanket) and generate ideas and new solutions.

Convergent thinkers are answers-focused. They are asked questions and then seek out facts to answer the questions.

This diagram breaks it down nicely:

Infographic from Maura Crabtree

What Taylor Swift, Banksy, And Lin Manuel Miranda Have In Common

Photo by Raphael Lovaski on Unsplash

Some people are born more creative than others.

Creativity is a natural trait made up of divergent thinkers.

We each have different parts of our brains that we activate while trying to solve problems.

  1. The spontaneous thinking network creates new ideas
  2. The operating network matches the ideas to reality
  3. The information network joins the two together

Most people cannot activate and use all three networks at the same time.

Writers, musicians, artists, designers, and great business thinkers can access all three to a certain degree.

(Side note: We know you can’t survive off creativity alone, there is some talent and hard work thrown in there too).

So I bet T-Swift, Banksy, and Lin can use all of their brain all at once.

4 Things To Do To Increase Your Creativity

Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash

Becoming the next mega pop-star or famous graffiti artist may be out our your reach…or is it?

Don’t give up on your dreams yet, because you can improve your creativity even if you are a convergent thinker.

You can take actionable, everyday steps to not only think creatively but also to improve your creative output.

The psychologist Robert Epstein conducted a study to find out exactly how to do this.

In that study, Dr. Epstein found four specific things that you can do just about every day to increase your creativity:

1. Capture Your Ideas

Creative people don’t let their ideas slip past. Instead, they find a way to hold onto them. Even if you don’t end up using them. But having a system helps creative people remember and re-focus on those ideas later one.

This is something that poet and creative writer Austin Kleon does all the time. He even has several journals of random ideas.

Idea capture is also one of the foundational bedrocks of the Get Things Done methodology, a popular personal productivity system that helps people stay focused and organized with their tasks.

2. Find New Challenges

These are projects and collaborations that don’t have an easy solution. This is figuring out new way of doing things. Maybe it’s writing or brainstorming.

Don’t think your projects have to be artistic. They don’t.

Your new challenge could be improving your neighborhood park, building a backyard shed, or learning how to sew.

New challenges make you a better problem solver.

3. Expand your knowledge base.

That’s a longer way of saying “try new things.”

One of the ways that Dr. Epstein suggestions in becoming more creative is to try unrelated fields to your core interests. With thease new classes, books, or programs, you’ll be able to create more “interconnection” between disparate thoughts.

Essentially, it helps you think outside the box.

4. Find interesting people and things

Competition and collaboration push us forward.

It’s the basis of the (in)famous Paypal mafia — a cohort of millionaires and billionaires whose ranks included Elon Musk and Peter Thiel.

Or call it a scenius — a “communal genius” found in a common place who develop the best in each other.

Epstein says to surround yourself with interesting things and people, but I would start with interesting people — because they are sure to bring and introduce you to interesting things. The goal here is to introduce new approaches and ways of thinking.

Your Creativity Can Improve

Your creative thinking skills aren’t fixed.

Your creativity can improve.

But that won’t happen if you stay in the same patterns and the same ruts.

Think of a new use for that weighted blanket on your couch. It’s time to be creative.


Josh Spilker is a content strategist and author. Get his 30+ ideas to kickstart your creativity.

Create Make Write

Thoughts on creativity, writing & making

Josh Spilker

Written by

Content/SEO Strategist, Author, and Writer. I write about marketing and creativity. Follow me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joshspilker/

Create Make Write

Thoughts on creativity, writing & making

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