Around this time of year, when the winter chill sticks to our bones and the once enchanting snow becomes a mere pile of gray slush, it's not unusual for our brains to enter a funky, cold-weather-induced cloud. The solution for getting those creative juices flowing again? A little guidance in the form of a book titled How to Have Great Ideas: A Guide to Creative Thinking ($23; amazon.com). "Creative thinking is the process of generating the ideas that make breakthroughs possible," writes author and professor John Ingledew. "These breakthroughs can lead to solutions to seemingly irresolvable problems, or can bring completely new things into existence." Ingledew's manifesto includes over 50 stellar tips, projects, and inspirational quotes and examples—check out seven of his valuable pointers below.
1. Write Your Manifesto
"A manifesto is a public declaration of the beliefs and objectives of an individual or a group. Numerous art movements have used manifestos to announce new and radical intentions," writes Ingledew. "Manifestos, mottos, and mantras are visible reminders to stick to your guns, not to let your ideas down and not to forget your principles when starting a new challenge."
2. Just Get Started
"Get something—anything—down on paper or a screen. It doesn't have to be coherent or structured at this stage," explains Ingledew. "Don't be precious. You can begin by simply writing down your first thoughts and then anything connected with them that comes to mind. Be broad and bold."
3. Get Help
Ingledew advises, "Find some collaborators. Working with others helps nurture and develop ideas. With the right people you can push yourself and your ideas much further." He adds, "Groups of collaborators bring many different skills and perspectives together, and a mix of like-minded and un-like-minded individuals, but to be successful there must be gang rules, mutual respect, and loyalty." (Ingledew cites the writers of Saturday Night Live as a hugely successful creative gang.)
4. Make 'Em Laugh
"A joke is an idea shared with an audience. As it only takes seconds to tell, you must have loads of jokes to create a routine, which in turn is great ideas-generation practice," writes Ingledew. "To write jokes you have to learn to successfully connect different things from different places...Joining, or connecting, the dots is also key to creative thinking, so joke writing is a great way to develop this skill."
5. Build Your Own Space
"Having a place in which to be alone is vital to the process of thinking, both in a concentrated manner and in the opposite way—by letting the mind wander," explains Ingledew. "Having your own space offers freedom: the freedom to make progress at your own pace and to experiment, make a mess and make mistakes without fear of intervention or criticism by others. A private, secluded space—even in a communal environment—is necessary to form and shape your thoughts."
6. Fence Yourself In
Ingledew writes, "Constraints can make for creativity...Being fenced in—having a lack of choice—gives you something to fight against." He suggests asking yourself questions like, "What would I do if I only had half of the existing budget?", "What would I do if I had half the time to complete the challenge?", and "What would I do if I had to work without a computer?"
7. Sleep On It
"Our imaginations are particularly powerful during sleep," says Ingledew. "The moments just after falling asleep and just before waking seem to be highly creative times, perhaps because our brains are then at a midpoint between consciousness and unconsciousness." He adds, "Inventor Thomas Edison was particularly interested in these brief junctures and ingeniously attempted to utilize them. He would sit in front of a fire when feeling sleepy, holding ball bearings in his hand. As he fell asleep, the ball bearings would drop to the ground, instantly waking him, at which point he would write down any ideas that he could remember."