Channel Your Creative Thinking With These 4 Simple Exercises

When creativity leaves the room, it seems that not much could be done. You just have to switch tasks and wait till that inspiration strikes again. Or should you?

Elizabeth Gilbert says that you may want to look at how you are treating your creativity in the first place:

“You can believe that you are neither a slave to inspiration nor its master, but something far more interesting — its partner — and that the two of you are working together toward something intriguing and worthwhile”.

And when you act as partners in crime, there’s so much you can accomplish together! So the next time you feel stuck, but desperately in need to protrude some creative ideas, try to engage your “partner” in the following exercises:




There’s nothing more intimidating than a blank Word file with a blinking cursor. You can spend hours just staring at it without accomplishing anything meaningful. Sounds familiar? Free writing can help you get unstuck.

Take your central idea or topic and…

  • Write down everything that is already on your mind.
  • Write down everything that you feel like you need to learn/confirm to get that project done.
  • Reflect on why this project is important and what you want to accomplish with it.
  • Add anything else that comes up to your mind – like the new bold ideas that keep popping to your head (as random as those could be), while you are thinking about the task.

The goal here is to get past the initial creative block (a common struggle when starting a new project) and create an outline for further action.




When you can’t think of a good solution for a persisting (and annoying!) problem, try changing the way you are looking at it.

Each letter of the mnemonics stands for a question about your project or problem that you should be asking yourself:

  • Substitute: What result will I get if I swapped X for Y in my project?
  • Combine: What result will I get if I combine X and Y tasks?
  • Adapt: What changes will I need to make if I want this project to be more successful?
  • Modify: What can be modified to finish this project faster?
  • Put to another use: Can I re-use the project results in some way?
  • Eliminate: What can be removed from the project to simplify it?
  • Reverse: Is there any way to reorganize this project to make it more effective?

By asking these questions you approach the task at hand from an unexpected angle and dig deeper into the root of the problem.




If you are working with the team and your brainstorming session has got nowhere, try this instead.

It’s okay if you are not good at drawing. The key of this exercise is to channel the visual thinker inside you and develop new ideas.

Ask everyone on your team to sketch an image related to the problem you want to explore further. Then have them pass their sketch to the next person, who’ll draw another related image on the same piece of paper. Make sure to repeat the process multiple times.

Afterwards, review and discuss every sketch. The goal here is to uncover hidden connections between different aspects of your ideas that individuals missed earlier and come up with some fresh solutions!




This exercise is fun and creative and can help you come up with really fresh ideas. The aim here is to bring together ideas that serve very different needs or interests to develop a new concept. Basically, that’s the kind of thinking behind products like smart watches or the “Uber of something” start-ups.

Prep a bunch of post-it notes with different things listed on those and ask each team member to pick two or more items, put them on a whiteboard and explain how those two can be connected. You can also use the same approach for creating fresh and bold outfit ideas for photoshoots by trying to combine the seemingly mismatching fashion staples.


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