Any primary ability or talent can be developed by training. You can improve your creative ability by exercising it.
I hear: I forget
I see: I remember
I do: I understand
A special type of firsthand experience is...
Charles Cave writes:
I'm an arm-chair traveller and particularly enjoy television programs about travel. Michael Palin's From Pole to Pole was the story of a wonderful trip starting at the North Pole. I was very inspired seeing such places as Finland, Russia, Estonia, Egypt, Africa and Antarctica.A good place for arm-chair travelling and planning your next holiday is the Lonely Planet web-site (as well as reading the books!).
Last week I watched a program about an Englishman who walked from the west coast of France to Istanbul...in eighteen months!
Sorrel Wilby's book Across the Top describes a trek across the Himalayas. I have two books about the Ascent of Mt Everest. There's something very motivating about reading books on mountaineering.
One special group of easily accessible and highly creative people are...
Try the association game. You both look at something together and ask the child "What does that look like to you?" or "What does that make you think of?".
Playing imagination games with children and creatively interacting with them is one good way to get you back in touch with your imagination.
You may want to explore the Children section of the Creativity Web.
Physical sports such as football, basketball, baseball, tennis, racketball or handball can also provide creative exercise involving strategy.
Charades is another games that provides great creative exercise in thinking up novel ways to communicate something. The board game Pictionary is a similar style game.
Word puzzles and games are another avenue for creative exercise and Thomas Edison was a great believer in this. Today, newspapers carry puzzles of the crossword and jumbled-word varieties. A great word game, such as Scrabble or Boggle, forces you to think in terms of adding, subtracting and modifying various combinations of letters, all of which helps sharpen and tone your creative ability.
Computers are a hobby with great potential. Think up new uses for computers in the home and write new programs to carry them out. There are several books on the market with titles like 101 Uses for a Home Computer &em; I own one such book!
Biographies also can be used for creative exercise. Any life worth documenting usually involved some real imagineering on the part of the subject. Perhaps you could profit from their experiences and use their creative ideas as a springboard to launch your own imagination. A good book is Made in Japan, by Akio Morita - the story of Sony.
Another way to use reading as a creative exercise is to take a topic of interest and read several different viewpoints.
Magazines can also be used for creative exercise. Walt Disney believed in reading Reader's Digest and said:
"Your imagination may be creaky or timid or dwarfed or frozen at points. The Readers Digest can serve as a gymnasium for its training".
One of the best things about the magazine is that it provides a kaleidoscope of topics in every issue. Such diversity can provide great creative fuel.
Here is a list of just some of the contents of a 1996 edition of Readers Digest:
Mike Vance talks about the value of reading Mad magazine, describing it as the idiom of our time showing us the direction we are heading. Alfred E. Neuman has big ears for listening and comes out with some fantastic quotations. The stories and cartoons are provocative and satirical. Buy and read a few issues of Mad and have a go at writing some stories and cartoons in the Mad style. It will greatly enhance your powers of perception!
Another interest area for stimulating your imagination is to buy a different magazine each month (or borrow from the library). Read something quite different to what you normally read, for example, sports, house and garden, travel, literary, gossip, fashion, comics, motoring, teenage, arts, etc.
For further information, I recommend the following books:
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