1. Insist on giving yourself daydreaming time. Schedule it if necessary. During that time allow no shoulds or musts to intrude. Give your mind this time to float freely, untethered to tasks. Do not think of what you will be doing when this time is over. Allow yourself to gaze out of the window, stare at the clouds, daydream.
2. Be curious. Ask why? How? How come? Don’t accept easy answers if they don’t make sense to you. Keep digging.
3. Ignore tradition. Just because something has always been done that way, or used for that purpose, doesn’t mean things can’t change.
4. Play a game with yourself–or with others–in trying to find the most uses other than the obvious ones for every-day items like paperclips, bricks, anything that comes to mind. Like most of these points, this will stretch and develop your creativity muscles. Feel free to get crazy with your answers.
5. Ask “What if?” Pick one aspect of an ordinary situation and imagine what would change if that one aspect were different. Follow this through in all its implications.
6. Widen the range of material that you read. The Queen of Hearts advised Alice to believe one impossible thing every day before breakfast. It was good advice. Allow yourself to become immersed in the worlds depicted by science fiction, history, authors from different countries. Stretch your imagination by contemplating impossible things and parallel universes.
7. Accept your initial ideas without judgment. Give them time to grow and develop before you test them. Butterflies that have just emerged from the chrysalis have wet, crumpled wings that are easily damaged. Give ideas time to develop before you decide if they can fly. The reason brainstorming has become such a standby when group creativity is involved is that all criticism is put on hold during the initial idea-generating phase. Allow yourself the same freedom.
8. Take risks. It is okay to be wrong. By definition, to be creative you must consider new, and therefore untested, ideas. Einstein said that he could have ninety-nine ideas that were wrong before he got the one that was right.
9. Enjoy the PROCESS of creation. Do not focus on the result. The secret and ecstasy of creating is being in the flow, of losing yourself in the process. If you constantly break the flow to check to how the end result will look to others, to ask yourself, “Will it sell?” or “Will it win?” you will subvert the process and possibly damage your creation.
10. Go ahead and DO IT! Don’t wait for the perfect moment – it probably won’t arrive. Painters paint, scrape the paint off and paint again. Writers write and delete. They don’t wait until they can do it perfectly before they start. You do not need twelve sharpened pencils and perfect silence before you put pen to paper. Remember that Shakespeare wrote in an age when the whole family sat at the same table and shared the same oil lamp. It is unlikely that he had a separate study or could wait until the family had gone to bed in order to write. You CAN follow your muse.