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Creative thinking skills

Home > Study skills > Thinking > Creative thinking skills

Creative thinking skills use very different approaches to critical thinking skills. They involve a much more relaxed, open, playful approach. This can require some risk-taking. Creative thinking skills involve such approaches as:

  • Looking for many possible answers rather than one.
  • Allowing yourself to make wild and crazy suggestions as well as those that seem sensible.
  • Not judging ideas early in the process - treat all ideas as if they may contain the seeds of something potentially useful.
  • Allowing yourself to doodle, daydream or play with a theory or suggestion.
  • Being aware that these approaches necessarily involve making lots of suggestions that are unworkable and may sound silly.
  • Making mistakes.
  • Learning from what has not worked as well as what did.

In this section, you can learn more about the processes and what creative thinking really involves:

A state of mind
Creative thinking skills are as much about attitude and self-confidence as about talent. Creativity is often less ordered, structured and predictable. As you are not looking for 'one' answer, you are likely to come up with lots of suggestions that are not 'right'. This can be difficult if you are more used to analytical and logical approaches. It can also be experienced as 'risky' as the prospect of making a mistake or not coming up with an answer is more likely.

Creativity and emotions
Strong emotional self-management is often needed in order to allow creative thinking states to emerge. It is important to be able to cope with risk, confusion, disorder and feeling that you are not progressing quickly.

Creative thinking techniques
There is no limit to ways there are of thinking creatively. Some techniques you can begin with are:

  • Brainstorm ideas on one topic onto a large piece of paper: don't edit these. Just write them down.
  • Allowing yourself to play with an idea whilst you go for a walk.
  • Draw or paint a theory on paper.
  • Ask the same question at least twenty times and give a different answer each time.
  • Combine some of the features of two different objects or ideas to see if you can create several more.
  • Change your routine. Do things a different way. Walk a different route to college.
  • Let your mind be influenced by new stimuli such as music you do not usually listen to.
  • Be open to ideas when they are still new: look for ways of making things work and pushing the idea to its limits.
  • Ask questions such as 'what if….?' Or 'supposing….?'.

Combine analytical and creative thinking skills
Many important breakthroughs in science and innovation have resulted from:

  • Focusing on a subject in a logical, analytical way for some time, thinking through possible solutions.
  • Daydreaming or distracting the mind, but holding the same problem lightly 'at the back of the mind'.
  • The answer has often emerged on dreams or daydreams when the innovator was not trying so hard to find the answer. However, the daydream on its own did not achieve anything.

Keep an ideas book

  • Inspiration can strike at any time. Ideas can also slip away very easily. Keep a small notebook to hand so you can jot down your ideas straight away.

 

This content has been written by Stella Cottrell author of Critical Thinking Skills and The Study Skills Handbook