Sparking Creativity with Lists
I recently read James Altucher‘s (self-published) book I Was Blind But Now I See, and one of the (probably the) most immediately useful take aways for me was his advice for exercising the mind. Specifically his suggestion to write ideas every day, in order to foster creativity and avoid allowing the “idea muscle” to atrophy. For those that have not read Altucher; this is the Mental part of his Daily Practice.
Now I’m a list maker from way back, but I have mostly focused on a couple fairly small areas of list-making. Namely To-Do lists and Goals lists. Not so much on pure Idea lists. At least not nearly as often as James suggests (every day). Up until recently, when I have written an idea list, it was for a very specific, targeted reason – a brainstorming session for a committed task or project. I have never listed ideas just to get the brain juice flowing. I have however seen the power of creative brainstorming put to use, seen the fruits of list making made manifest.
So I dove in (as I often do) and the results are impressive. I started by making a list of potential books to write. This led to a list of potential posts to write. One of the ideas on that second list was “101 ways to foster creativity in yourself.” On Tuesday I started that list of ways to get creativity bubbling; I came up with about 30. But then on Wednesday, when I returned to the list, I added about 140 more ideas! I quickly moved on to other lists. A few days later, I returned to my list of creativity sparkers and attacked it with my left brain; organizing, re-wording, paring down, removing duplicates, etc. I was left with a list of 169 ways to foster creativity, sorted into 9 major themes: Reading, Writing, Watching, Creating, Changing, Exploring, Talking, Taking Breaks and Letting Go.
But there was a problem. A list of 169 ideas is totally unwieldy. It’s long and after playing with several formats, I’m convinced that nobody would actually read the whole list. So I decided to break the list up and cover the items with a bit more narrative, background and detail. Since the practice of list-making-to-spark-creativity was the birth of all the ideas on my list, I’m making the obvious decision to start this unveiling with a post on writing lists. Below you will find 14 ideas for lists you can write, right now, to jump-start your creativity:
Write a list of things you want to do
Write lists of ways to accomplish each of the things you want to do
Write a list of things you know how to do
Write lists of ways to make money from each of those things
Write a list of things you want to learn
Write lists of ways to learn each of the things you want to learn
Write a list of your fears
Write lists of ways to overcome each of your fears
Write a list of things that should change
Write lists of ways to change each of the things you think should change
Write a list of things that should stay the same
Write lists of ways to keep up each of those things
Write a list of your favorite things
Write a list of things about yourself that no one knows
Hopefully these ideas can get you started on your own creativity fueled list making frenzy! Feel free to share your lists, or ideas for more lists, here in the comments (on my blog, or wherever you read this post).
Now the key is to keep doing it. I know that continuing to write new lists every day will be the most rewarding, as well as the hardest, part for me. Hopefully the creativity high will help me stay committed… maybe I need a list of ideas for sticking with my own daily practices?