There are no sure-fire ways to guarantee success in creating great ideas. Structure can be good but has a key downfall and is a stumbling block to many. True inspiration is not physically measurable, nor tangible in any concrete way.
Specific methods of generating ideas are discussed, but the point remains that these discussions rest on a quality which cannot be measured, though it may be discerned with the attuned mind, ie. any mind that seeks attunement. This is because creativity cannot be limited, and therefore anything which limits cannot contain creativity.
For many artists and creators, in our Western society, creativity is viewed as something to do. There is a perception that hard work is required to create the best works. Yet, there are great artists that don't need to overwork to succeed, while others need to work very hard. This belief is deeply ingrained in our society.
A person's creativity is often influenced by their viewpoint on creativity. One way to increase creativity is to understand how we view creativity itself and specially how it works for each one of us. We cannot teach creativity to a group of people and expect them to perform similarly. This looks surely so obvious, but creativity is rarely taught in that way. Learning how to be creative is not the same as learning to bake a cake.
Eastern philosophies have some components relative to creativity, in particularly, Buddhism (including Zen Buddhism) and Taoism. It is believed that we cannot create adequately from the control and illusion of the mind. One must go beyond it, beyond its power, and just let the mind be free to express anything it want. As soon as we try to create, i.e. "to do it", we start controlling. We have to learn to loosen control, to let the mind be. Instead of forcing anything, we let it come, or more appropriately, we give it a chance to come (although this does not work with everyone). This message is very similar to Timothey Gallwey's book The Inner Game of Tennis and discussed further in the Brain section of the Creativity Web.
Creativity is strongly linked to a receptiveness to life and what it has to offer us. It means being open to what is true, about ourselves and about others. Creativity flourishes when the truth about things is admitted to oneself. For instance, it is always true that people are important. If I try to achieve my goals by neglecting the rights/feelings of others, I deceive myself, and my perception of reality is blurred. Since creativity depends on accurate information about one's environment, my lack of concern for others becomes a roadblock to creativity.
Another contributor writes:
Another area where honesty with myself allows me to be more creative is in my personal goals and dreams. I have found that the more I think about my goals and evaluate them objectively (as if they were someone else's goals), the more real they become to me; I find that they tend to become feasible as my mind works on creative ways to make them work. In general, I have found that the more I dwell on something, the more my mind works in a creative fashion to make that something come true. The message here is to dwell on things you want, and not on things you don't want.
For example, I have found it a tremendous help to learn about the local news by talking to people, not by watching it on TV. Where I live (USA), the news media emphasize the violent aspects of the news, and shamelessly present pictures which my mind cannot forget. Dwelling on such things is fine if such pictures contribute to attainment of my goals, but too often they are situations which I have no control over, and all they do then is divert my creative abilities from where I really need them. Refer to "Psychocybernetics" by Maxwell Maltz for further details.
To strive for originality is counterproductive. Originality springs from the exact opposite of striving. Simply follow the natural way, and originality will result.
The natural way does include discipline, the purpose of discipline is to focus energy by avoiding distraction. In this mode, it is a joyous experience, because the benefits are obvious.
Try out the techniques and strive for integration with your thinking style until you are not consciously applying the techniques. Write the technique onto an index card, and carry that card with you for the month (or week) and consciously practicing the technique until it is part of your very being.