Creative thinking is a lot like telling a story. You have to move the story along if you want to discover what comes next.
Three effective ways to move creativity along is to raise specific scenarios that let you address deeper questions and explore the unexpected.
1. What if?
Ask yourself “What if?” What if you don’t succeed? What if you tried an opposite approach? What if you were someone else, what would you do then? What if you asked “What if” 100 times?
2. And then…
State the thing you are trying to accomplish and end it with “and then…” Repeat as necessary. And then write down anything that comes to mind. And then keep adding continuations to it until you feel inspired. And then move on to #3.
3. But why?
Understanding the fundamentals of what it is you’re trying to do – or of the problem trying to be solved – helps to identify potential solutions and answers. To quote Charles F. Kettering: “A problem well stated is a problem half solved.” But why? Because looking closer at the details is something we don’t regularly do, and it is from those details that potential solutions make themselves clear.
What if you tried these three approaches today, if only for 10 minutes? And then you can explore the ideas that come as a result. But why would you do such a thing? Because these three exploratory statements tend to bring about more than just one feasible idea.