Creative Thinking Hub

Sharing ideas and resources to help you think more creatively

Category: Creative Thinking (page 1 of 12)

Creativity and the tools we use

I’ve visited the room where Dylan Thomas did much of his writing and also the tiny shed where Roald Dahl wrote. Something that struck me about these amazing writers, was how extremely typical their surroundings were.

Nothing fancy. Just a space to create, where they could think and work.

The mechanics are secondary

Often, we get caught up in the mechanics of creativity. What software to work with… which type of computer to use.

I think to a lesser or greater degree, these are stalling tactics. Find the mix that feels right for you, then create.

The rest is largely unimportant.

It’s 1969: Jim Morrison talks about rap and electro music!

Never let the fear of criticism hold you back from creating your art. Today, I want to share an example with you, which makes this point beautifully.

1969: Jim Morrison predicts electro & rap

In 1969, the year The Beatles split, Jim Morrison was asked about the future of music. Here’s an amazing, direct quote from his answer:

“[...] it might rely heavily on electronics, tapes, I can kind of envision maybe one person with a lot of machines, tapes, and electronics set up, singing or speaking and using machines.”

You can watch the short video that quote is taken from, here.

From fool to visionary

At the time, Morrison’s prediction of what we now call electro music and rap, whilst his counterparts were playing Woodstock with flowers in their hair, was laughed at.

The idea of using machines, rather than musical instruments, was too much for the masses to handle. It seemed like the foolish ramblings of a man with a well known drug problem.

Of course, it wasn’t.

Years after his death, Morrison’s prediction happened. He was duly elevated to the status of musical visionary.

The price for thinking differently

The price for thinking differently, is that you set yourself apart from the masses. By proactively embracing your creativity, you will see the world differently. Your art may be hard for others to understand or ahead of its time. When that happens, the masses are likely to laugh at you or criticise you.

As Einstein said: “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds”.

A great way to deal with this, is to use fear as your compass. Every great artist has encountered ridicule. If your work is not being attacked in some way, you’re probably playing it safe… not making a difference. It’s a sign you need to embrace the edges.

To quote another visionary: “Stay young. Stay foolish” — Steve Jobs.

Your obligation to those whose work you value

When was the last time you showed your appreciation, to an artist whose work you enjoy?

The reason I ask you this, is that artists rely heavily on the feedback they receive. Whether that feedback is in sales of their work, tickets to their performance or messages of encouragement, feedback is what shows them who values their work.

Why your feedback matters

I remember talking to a guy once, who almost quit writing his blog because he got so little feedback from it. I took a look at his work and was extremely impressed. I asked him if he had any analytics software plugged into his blog, to count how many visitors or readers he attracted. He said that he didn’t. So, I installed an analytics package and told him I would go through the results with him in a week.

When we analysed the activity on his blog, it was clear that hundreds of visitors were connecting with his work every day. Quite an achievement for a pretty niche blog.

Without that feedback, the writer was about to quit. As much as he enjoyed writing, there seemed little point blogging if no one was interested. He now has several thousand daily readers and a professional publishing contract.

Your obligation

All art is based on human connections — between the artist and those who connect with their work. If you want your favourite artists to carry on creating, you have an obligation. Your obligation is to feedback to them, either through financially supporting their work, telling your friends about them or by letting the artist know you value their work.

In short: If you value an artist, give them a hug!

How to prove you’re clueless about design

I visited a website earlier. It told me nothing about what the website owners stood for or who they were.

It was pointless.

No connection.

A waste of my time and their money.

Stock photos. Stock design. Uncreative and lifeless

The site greeted me, with a stock photo of a group of beautiful, trendy people. None of whom have any connection with the company, who bought their image.

If you are going to use images of people on your website or blog, show us who you are or who your customers are. Use some creativity. Don’t just paste a group of models on your site, as if they were part of your team.

Otherwise, we may wonder what else you are lying to us about.

The 60th anniversary of Under Milk Wood on The BBC

Dylan_Thomas_photo60 years ago today, the Dylan Thomas masterpiece was performed on BBC radio. Under Milk Wood became a classic, and Richard Burton delivered what he considered one of his greatest ever performances.

The fact the radio play was ever finished was impressive.

Dylan Thomas was very ill, but was forced into touring New York for financial reasons. However, he still managed to get the radio play finished. Thomas would die in New York aged just 39, before his, now famous, BBC radio play was broadcast.

A great artistic inspiration

Dylan Thomas has since inspired generations of artists in every medium. Bob Dylan was so inspired, he famously took the name Dylan for his stage name.

What an amazing legacy. What an inspiration. Rest In Peace Mr Thomas.


Find your shipping recipe

Lets do this

An early morning, with a notebook and some coffee or green tea. That’s what does it for me. That’s the recipe to get my mind flowing with ideas and for those ideas to get shipped. In my case, shipped means written up for my readers. I get ideas all day, but I have found that early mornings work best for getting those ideas transformed from thoughts into things.

It doesn’t matter what works for you

What matters is that you find your recipe, to get the ideas flowing and shipped. Practice. Try things. Change the media from pen to pencil. From computer to tablet. From keyboard to paint. From guitar to sound sequencer.

It doesn’t matter, just so long as it works for you… so long as it gets the idea from your head into; the marketplace, the world, the community, the clients hands or into the readers inbox. Steve Jobs was right, real artists ship. So, find your shipping recipe and get your art out there.

Einstein explains why your imagination is so important

We all know that Albert Einstein had one of the greatest scientific minds in history. What many people don’t know, is that Einstein was also a passionate artist, who called upon his artistic imagination to see into the mysteries of the universe and unravel them.

Here’s a quote from The Saturday Evening Post in 1929, which shows the importance Einstein attributed to his artistic imagination:

“I am enough of the artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

Yes, it is essential for us to build our bank of knowledge. However, it is just as important to embrace the power of our imagination and develop our creative thinking skills.

Knowledge alone is not enough. As Calvin Coolidge famously said, the world is full of educated derelicts.

Cicero offers some great advice to artists and creators

“What one has, one ought to use: and whatever he does he should do with all his might.”
- Marcus Tullius Cicero.

The secret behind the world’s best problem solvers!

This article is about one of the keys to creative problem solving.

It starts with an understanding that the best problem solvers and idea developers, know that most questions have more than one correct answer.

For example, if your question is; how can I write upside down, using a pen and a pad?’, there are lots of correct answers.

These include:

  1. You could spend weeks, months or maybe years, learning how to re educate yourself, so that you can write upside down.
  2. You could simply turn your writing pad upside down and write normally. Then, as soon as the pad is turned the correct way, your writing will appear upside down.
  3. You could grab a pen and write the words ‘upside down’ on your writing pad. This is a play on words, but it’s still a possible answer.

All those answers are correct, depending on what you want to achieve.

  • If the reason for asking that question, was to learn a new skill, then the first answer is what you are looking for.
  • If the reason for asking that question, was to find the fastest way to solve the problem of writing words that appear upside down, then the second answer works.
  • If the reason for asking that question, was to develop a party trick, then the third answer is what you need.

Creative and traditional problem solving

Creative problem solvers search for as many answers as they can find. They then determine which answer is the most valuable to them.

Typical problem solvers look for THE correct answer, as if there were only one. When they find it, they stop looking. The challenge with this approach, is that the first correct answer we find is not always the best answer. It’s just AN answer.

Problem solving tip

Once you have clearly defined your question, keep looking for answers. Aim for at least 5 possible answers. 10 is even better. Then, evaluate the answers and determine the one you believe to be most valuable.


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