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How do you boost your creativity?

A lot of times, groups need to do a little something to get the juices flowing before a brainstorming meeting. While I haven't had the pleasure of doing too many innovation/creativity exercises in meetings (though I'd love to), here are a few I like to use to grease my creative wheels:

Take abstract words, like joy or disappointment or power, and describe them in sensory terms (joy is the first morning light hitting a pure white rose just as it starts to open, disappointment is the smell of worms on a sidewalk after a rain, that kind of thing). It forces my brain to think a little differently than it usually does.

Another one I like is to take a task from one profession or role and perform it (or describe it being performed) by someone completely different. Say, how a firefighter would design a park, or an astronaut would cook a gourmet meal.

Or have people try to describe in words something they do every day, then have someone else try to do it following that person’s directions. We did this in a creative writing class I took way back when, and I had to invent a whole new way to tie my shoes because I couldn’t describe how I actually do it well enough that someone couldl follow my directions!

Or have people reverse something they do all the time to do it the opposite way, or just differently. In my case, I occasionally will try to write an article from the end to the beginning, or try to write something without using the word “but,” or write a sentence or two where all the words have to be in alphabetical order (or harder, reverse alpha). Or a news item in rhyming couplets. You get the picture—I’m sure this could translate to other professions or roles, too.

Anything to break the usual way of doing things helps free me up a bit. What works for you?