4 June 2014

How to improve Creativity & Lateral thinking - part 1

Welcome back friends, before discussing the actual topic, let me state the definition of 'Creativity' in my own language. 

"Creativity can be defined as an art of thinking/imagining/writing/acting/doing or even speaking something NEW - that differs from the rest and that is probably :
  • Unique
  • Astonishing
  • Appreciable
  • Acceptable
  • Adoptable and in fact
  • Practical"
The definitions of Creativity and Lateral thinking are closely related, more or less both can be assumed same. Therefore, I will be discussing about them synchronizingly. For the convenience of readers, I divided the topic on 'how to improve creativity' under two separate categories :
  1. Behavioral practices
  2. Habitual practices

In this article, we will understand the behavioral aspects of improving creativity, while in the next article we will learn the best habitual practices for improving creativity. You may also see the complete guide in the form of inforgraphy in my other blog post - Inforgrapy on creativity and lateral thinking

Both of the above listed articles are best suited for the following categories of people :
  • Students
  • Designers and design aspirants
  • Photographers
  • Artists
  • Film directors
  • Content writers and bloggers
  • Teachers
  • Engineering and software professionals

You may also watch the video tutorial of this article at the end of this page.

Lets dive into the topic !

1. Feel the need for changes & requirements

Necessity or requirement is the main source of creativity. Once we feel the need for a change or feel like we were uncomfortable with the present, we will be in a position to innovate. In other words - make ways to new ideas. We won't eat unless we are hungry, right ? same principle applies to lateral thoughts. So, in order to boost our lateral thinking, we should frame our surroundings/environment in such a way that we are always left with many requirements, necessities or to-do tasks.
"Necessity is the mother of creativity"

2. Finding faults

Yes, you heard that right ! A creative person (especially a designer and content writer) should find faults in the existing things/designs/writings. Let me clear this with a day-to-day example, We are already having n number of mobile phones in the market, right ? still then - why we are seeing new advanced phones everyday. That's because; in some way or other every phone lacks in perfection. Same funda applies to whatever products we see around. It is to be noted that - the designers 'looks for problems' so as to upgrade the existing one; even if there's no fault in it.

Time to think - what would've happened if 'Thomas Edison' couldn't found any fault in using candle light ? the whole world would've stayed in candle light ! No question of inventing electric bulb. Every innovation begins with requirements and requirements are proportional to fault findings. So, develop the attitude of finding discomforts, mistakes and faults in whatever you come across. 

Do you know one thing ? Almost all the posts that I wrote in this blog is based on my findings. I understood that there is a necessity for the topics to be dealt - by noting the requirements from the users. Just as I started writing in this blog, many approached me and made me aware of the topics that they had been searching badly for a long. The design suggestions and other guides that I covered in this blog is based on my mistake finding on others works ! That is the power of finding mistakes/faults. That's why I strongly recommend you to look for faults/mistakes - that are genuine and acceptable.  
"Every innovation begins with requirements and requirements are proportional to fault findings"

3. Being different - not satisfying

Most of the people perceive things in usual (normal/same) way, but very few observe things differently - they are the actual creative individuals. Be different, think differently and do differently. Don't get satisfied with whatever others are doing. Find your own way of perceiving things. Don't try to notice casual things, try to analyze/look for unusual things. For example, if you are given a photograph or a cartoon; then try to focus mainly on the background rather than what others does i.e on the character of the picture. This way, explore/perceive things differently and be keen to each and every part of the issue. Always make the habit of raising questions.

"What else can we do with a used tooth brush ?"
"Can safety pin be used as a electric connector ?"

4. Exposure

Well, one can open-up his/her mind and can explore various thoughts only when he is exposed to different situations. To be creative; you should be aware of as many things as possible - that too in various areas. Say, if you are a graphic designer, then don't restrict yourself to that particular specialization. Instead, educate yourself to various related design fields like interior designs, visual communications etc. This way you can remove the restrictions (so called 'boundary walls') and hence would think in diverse ways.

Most importantly; wherever you are and whatever you are doing - observe things observe surroundings and be keen to the current ongoing. An ant is a tiny living creator on earth, but it does have heart, lungs or any other organs like we (humans) have. Even a tiny thing is worth observing because it does carry matter ! Don't neglect small details/issues.
"The world is very big, explore it"
"An electronic chip (IC) is small, but it's almost equal to a human brain ! explore and expose to everything"

5. Share your thoughts 

Sharing your creative ideas with your friends, family, teachers or any others, would help you as follows

  1. Others are the good judgers in finding the loop holes of your's. Same applies to their work ! That would help you correct yourself
  2. They might suggest you for some changes by giving their own ideas. In this way you are working in a team and thus indirectly exploring multiple ideas
  3. Analyze the mistakes from what they have suggested, thus avoiding it without doing it from your side.
"Learn from the mistakes of others"

6. Go through others ideas

Just like you shared and got creative suggestions/ideas from others, go through others ideas and analyze :

  • What are all the possible mistakes that they made, what is to be avoided
  • How their concept went
  • How that concept can be changed and incorporate in our concept
  • What other ideas (alternatives) can be derived from their's
  • How that differ from your's
Well, this can also be applied to content writing. Writers may check others work and understand for the above list 

7. Live in assumptions 

You might have watched some of the famous cartoons/animated movies. It's really great to see how directors imagine the impossible things and showed them with clean and decent script form. That is the power of assumptions. Directors live in a world of assumptions, and that is what makes them creative than most of us. Consider any topic and make suitable assumptions on how to deal with the situation. You must be in a position to unwrap your imaginations and think crazily. Don't mind even if you are thinking in an impossible manner, who knows that might come possible !

8. Observe and analyse others 

Watching and understanding others is a big deal. It's a psychology and this would definitely help you develop analyzing power. Find how creative others are, how they are behaving etc. If possible; read their face to analyze their characters, let it go wrong, no issue. It is recommended to watch childrens activities. Children are really crazy, and they obviously showcase crazy thoughts. It's upto you to grasp what they are doing. The faster you observe what they are doing (differently), the more observing power you get.
"Sometimes; children could beat elders or even scientists in idea generation !"

9. Risking - eliminate the fear of failure

For one to be creative, one should be ready to take risks ! Remember, doing different or being different is the key indication of creativeness; and to be different mean you should be ready to face the risks ! The risks could be any of the following :

  1. Failure
  2. Criticism and
  3. Rejection from people
Well, even if you fail in meeting the exceptions of your creative works, don't let your hopes down. When you fail, you will be moving one step towards the success ! and hence keep creating without the fear for failure. It was said that : 90% of the people fails because of NOT TAKING RISKS, (most of) the remaining 10% succeed because others couldn't even start ! The fear in you might refrain you from even starting or trying the thought idea, this is the biggest drawback of all. Whether your work is going to make a blast or whether it will get utter flopped, don't worry, just give it a try. 
"Until you start/try, you won't be knowing whether it's a success or failure !"

10. Confidence 

Like I said before, there might be the risk of criticism or even rejections from many. Criticism from others are the root source of disappointment or down-break of once confidence. When confidence is lost, you will be stuck with NO ideas. So, in order to overcome such situations, appreciate yourself - appreciate your own ideas and try to boost your confidence/interest to make further progress.

11. Group-up your thoughts (write down) 

Creative ideas/thoughts comes in flow, while doing related or even unrelated works. Ideas strikes your head and might flash like a thunder. But if it's not caught, then you will be loosing that idea ! It happens most of the times, that's because human brain tends to forget those that flashed in mind even after few seconds ! That's the reason why most of the creative people carry a notepad, a book or any of today's digital gadgets just to write/note down the ideas that strikes their mind. So, make the habit of writing down (in some where) the thoughts no matter where you are and what you are doing. Don't forget to revise that some time later and try to utilize them for your other ideas.
"Group of water drops makes an ocean !"

12. Being comparative

Comparison is required; wherever you are and whatever you are doing. For example, in your primary school you might have competed with your fellow school mates so as to stand in the top position of the class. If you are a blogger/content writer, you might have compared your Alexa rankings with that of your fellow bloggers. If you are satisfied with your results (however it is) then you won't be taking further steps for progress. Develop the habit of comparing your tasks/activities/writings with that of others and find the difference. Compare and understand to what extent you are creative than the rest.

13. Avoid routine & uninterested activities

Well, doing same and routine works bore you. Such environment acts as the main obstruction for your lateral thoughts. Avoid doing uninterested and repeated works continuously. Instead, take a break from your regular works and go for some of your habits. The following are the best acts/ways to keep away boredom due to routine works.

  • Reading and writing stories
  • Watching movies
  • Music and gaming
  • Travel and site seeing
"Robots do routine things - not humans !"

14. Positive minded friends  

Move greatly with positive people who supports you the most - just to boost your confidence. Mind less of people whom discourage you. The company (surrounding people) with whom you move or live, greatly affect your work and thinking. It's always advisable to move greatly with positive minded people - those who supports you or inspires you. It's also good to move with people whom gets inspired by your works/actions. Such people will make you understand your importance and capabilities. Hence your confidence level will not weaver.
"You are judged by your surroundings"

15. Be practical 

Well, from the very beginning I have been speaking more about 'crazy thoughts'. It's good to develop those thoughts, but make sure that almost all of your thoughts are practical, especially if you are a designer. If you are a writer or director, then your thinking may go beyond imagination but all that should be framed and represented as practical ! Almost all animated movies show talking animals as main characters, best example is 'Kung Fu Panda'. It isn't possible, but it was represented in a practical manner. That is the creative power of directors !

The above points discuss about the behavioral aspects of improving creativity. You may also learn about habitual practices for creative thinking here

Inforgrapy on creativity and lateral thinking


Well, the above concepts are just my views based on my experience and analysis into the topic. In order to strengthen the above facts, I approached a creative blogger - Suchitra ; whom is the owner of easycrafts blog - who blogs about crafts, travel, finance and Indian food recipes.

One of her blog address being Easy-crafts blog

Here is how our conversation went

1. How do you get creative thoughts ?

I get inspired by everything crafty that I see and then try to put in my thoughts to make it look different .... the thought of not creating an exact replica itself gives new ideas. Also I am very keen on using up waste or leftover materials to make some crafts.

2. What are all the steps/activities/hobbies that you do habitually to sustain creativeness in you ?

  • Browsing the internet
  • Following lot of creative and craft blogs 
  • Taking lot of time in craft materials shops to see what new materials have come up and the way they can be used
  • Staying updated with new techniques and popular crafts.

I appreciate our friend - Suchitra to the fullest; for sparing her valuable time to answer the questions.


Watch the video tutorial of this article here

Over to you 

How do you improve Creativity ?
What steps did you take to think laterally ?
What are your views about creativity ? 

Share your views in the comments and let others know !

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  1. Nice write up...thanks for giving me an opportunity to be a part of this

    1. Hi Suchitra,

      Pleasure is mine. Thanks for the appreciation and thanks again for your time. Great day to you :)

  2. Hi Bhanu. It is good to see your disciplined approach to creativity. The seed of an idea may arrive by itself but causing it to flower is a process that involves the application of analysis and skillful execution

    1. Hi Paul,

      I usually see your comments in LinkedIn and this is the first time I'm seeing you comment in my blog. Glad and hank you for stopping by and leaving your views. Yes, like you said skillful execution is one definite need to sustain creativity. Great point !

      Thank you again. Hope you are having a great week :)

  3. Hi Bhanu

    I love this post. I see myself as creative but I am anything but structured in my approach to it.

    I started my career as an accountant and while many people do not think of that as a profession where there is a need to be creative a good account is just that. I was creative :-)

    Thanks again for such a good post.


    1. Hi Sue,

      Thank you for liking this post.

      Well, I'm surprised to hear that you was an Account professional !, that's because I can see from your blog; the variety of topics that you cover ranging from small business (start-up) to big business success with all mind blowing advises on success and making income. That's really great and I'm glad I came across creative people like you :)

      Honestly speaking, It's not necessary for you to mention about your approach and nature, since you are indeed a creative professional - the way you write articles and the way you guide entrepreneurs for their success are itself a big proof.

      Thank you again for visiting my site. Keep up the great work :)


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