Creative Thinking: Can You Learn Creativity?


Written by Frankie Cameron

What do you think of when someone mentions creativity or creative thinking? Is creativity a natural quality that we all have buried inside of us? There is a belief that creativity begins with an original idea and that you either are creative or not. But perhaps creativity is something that is teachable to anyone, whether they are painters, writers, or business people.

That’s an excellent question. According to Miriam-Webster dictionary, creativity is the ability to create or the quality of being creative.

Creative Thinking and Creativity

Creative Thinking Barriers

Let’s examine some barriers to becoming more creative before discussing how to overcome them.

1. Fear of Being Judged

A creative mind produces unusual and different ideas, but being seen as strange or odd is a death sentence for creativity. 

2. Fear of Failure

This usually has two meanings. The first is that your idea didn’t work out the way you intended and the second is that someone else won’t like it.

3. Lack of Self-Esteem

Going beyond what is safe and familiar is scary to people and they don’t want to make themselves vulnerable so they will hold on to their ideas instead of sharing.

4. Lack of time

Creativity is about freeing your mind so you are receptive to new ideas, but we need to give ourselves time to do that.

Train Your Brain

Though you may not have always come up with creative ideas, training your brain to solve problems creatively can help. Even if you don’t always have brilliant ideas, you will have enough to make it more likely that you will eventually find one that works.

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

Thomas A. Edison

Creative Thinking Principles

There are two principles to creative thinking.

1. It has methods and techniques
2. You can make the methods and techniques a habit

In essence, you can train your mind by changing your thinking until it becomes ingrained.

Creative Thinking Techniques

These are just a few of the many creative thinking techniques available.

1. Challenge Your Assumptions

What if a restaurant didn’t have employees? Is education always a good thing? When you are solving problems, challenging assumptions will help you be more creative.

2. Change Your Perspective

You may have heard the expression “Think outside the box.” Look at everything from several perspectives. Even something as simple as taking a different route to work can help inspire creative thinking by getting your mind to work outside of its usual patterns.

3. Change Your Surroundings

Any change in your environment can wake up your brain. When you go for a walk, use the note app on your phone to record any inspiration.

4. Find a Source of Water

The spray of fast moving water produces ions. Negative ions are oxygen ions that have picked up an extra electron. When you are in the shower or a body of water, your mind wanders and allows your brain to solve the problem.

5. Keep an Idea Journal

Keeping an idea journal can be helpful. If we write our ideas down, our minds can transform a mediocre idea into something inspiring.

6. Let Your Ideas Run Wild

Relax and let ideas come to you, knowing that you can always discard them later.

7. Pay Attention to Your Subconscious

Your subconscious mind perks up at the things we pay attention to, ultimately feeding you more ideas.

Creative Thinking Habits

If you train your brain to use these and other techniques, they will become an automatic part of your thinking- a habit. Keep reminding yourself until you no longer need to think about it.

Light bulb trying to plug into a socket. Creative Thinking

Image by ColiN00B from Pixabay.

Creative Thinking Tips

Adapt any of these ideas to get your creative juices flowing. The choice is yours. What is your capacity for invention? What is your level of openness? Your creativity will increase when you remove the boundaries from your mind.

Try some of the following tips if you find that your creativity has become stagnant:

1. Ask Questions

Never stop asking yourself “what if”, “what else”, or “how to” come up with more and better ideas.

2 Brainstorm Ideas

There are four basic rules for successful brainstorming:

  • Criticism should not obstruct the free exchange of ideas.
  • Strange or out-of-the-box ideas are encouraged
  • Quantity is more important than quality
  • The combination of ideas (or modifications) are encouraged

3. Cultivate Dreaming

Whenever your mind wanders, pay attention to it. Don’t dismiss daydreams or dreams. If you dream a lot, consider keeping a dream journal.

4. Evaluate a New Approach

Try not to use your usual solution when you struggle to see if you can create an alternative approach. Do something different.

5. Note the Differences

If you notice something is different, ask yourself why you noticed it and why it is unusual. What is the key difference?

6. Right Frame of Mind

Discover your creative moments. Is it early in the morning or after everyone else is asleep? Is background music or silence necessary? It’s important to find out what works best for you, and then make time and space for it.

7. Switch It Up

Switch the order that you do things. By breaking from the autopilot routine, your brain becomes alert and builds new connections.

8. Try a New Recipe

By taking an everyday object or idea and considering or imagining how many other uses it might have, you can have some great fun. Combining it with other objects is another possibility.

My Creativity

For years I told myself I wasn’t a creative person. When I finally wrote my first novel, I struggled to find the right words or plot ideas, but sticking with it and fighting through the hard parts lead me to find inspiration and creativity. If I can learn to be creative, so can you.

Final Thoughts

So we can enhance creativity when we make room in our lives. When we apply ourselves, we can harness our creativity. What do you think? Is creativity an innate ability, or is it something one can learn? Let me know in the comments.


Until next time


Feature Image by Dragos Gontariu on Unsplash.

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