Creative Thinking for Writers - Introduction
In order to be a good writer you need to be a good creative thinker.
Creative thinking can be one of the most important skills in life. If you’ve shown natural ability at creative arts (such as writing) then you are probably already a highly creative thinker and you should be very proud of your natural abilities.
We're going to look at some basic creative thinking concepts. We're not going to get too technical about how the creative side of the brain works, because you could write a thesis about that sort of stuff (and, quite frankly, take all the fun out of it). But here we're going to introduce some basic creative concepts and some fun exercises used by writers, particularly when it comes to generating new ideas.
Think of one of the most creative ideas you’ve ever had. Perhaps it was an idea for a story you wrote as a child that impressed your teacher so much it was read out to the class. Now try to remember how you came up with that great idea. Chances are it was fairly random, which is fine. Creativity works like that.
But great creative thinkers can use specific techniques, ways to harness their creative energies and apply them effectively to the task at hand. Let's start by exploring some of these techniques.
How did you go? That was a basic activity exercising two of the most fundamental creative thinking skills:
Both play an important role for writers, particularly when it comes to generating ideas.
Fluency means the ability to let as many ideas as possible flow freely without stopping to judge them. To speak a language fluently means to speak it freely without stopping to think about whether or not you are using the right words. To think fluently is the same principle – to think freely without needing to stop and think too much about the reasoning behind your ideas. Fluent thinkers are able to let ideas flow out of their heads, and only later will they assess which ideas are good and which ones are not.
Did you manage to fill in all 20 circles? If so, congratulations. You have the signs of a very fluent thinker who can let ideas flow quite easily. If not, these skills will come shortly with practice.
Flexibility is the ability to think of many different ideas. For example, anyone might be able to turn the circles into 20 different types of balls quite quickly (tennis ball, basketball, soccer ball, bowling ball, etc.), but a flexible thinker might turn one of them into a ball, one into a pizza, one into a wheel, one into a planet, and so forth.
How would you describe the flexibility in your pictures? Was there a wide variety of pictures? And importantly, did you stay inside the circles or venture outside? Remember, there were no rules, so a flexible thinker might have used the space around the circles as well, such as to add rings to Saturn, or legs and a head to a dung beetle. Flexible thinkers might have combined two or more circles, perhaps as the wheels of a bike or a pair of swimming goggles. And did you only create objects? What about patterns? Or perhaps the circles were a window to a much bigger scene, possibly as seen through a pair of binoculars?
So remember, fluency is the ability to let ideas flow naturally and unimpeded, and flexibility is the ability to think of a wide variety of possibilities. Combined, these two skills are very important for creative writers.
How did you go? Did you surprise yourself with the number of ideas you were able to come up with? If so, then the activity was successful! That is the art of fluency.
Did you find that you started with obvious, practical answers and then came up with some more obscure ones, even ones that you would never have imagined previously? If so – great! That is the art of flexibility.
It is through exercises such as this that we can extract those truly creative ideas and possibly develop them further into our stories. The technique you have just used is an example of brainstorming, which we are about to study in more detail.
You need to be logged in to comment