What is Creative Thinking?

Creative thinking means looking at something in a new way. It is the very definition of “thinking outside the box.” Creative thinking skills use very different approaches to critical thinking skills. They involve a much more relaxed, open, playful approach. This can require some risk-taking.

In this section, you can learn more about the processes and what creative thinking really involves:

A state of mind

Creative thinking skills are as much about attitude and self-confidence as about talent. Creativity is often less ordered, structured and predictable. As you are not looking for ‘one’ answer, you are likely to come up with lots of suggestions that are not ‘right’. This can be difficult if you are more used to analytical and logical approaches. It can also be experienced as ‘risky’ as the prospect of making a mistake or not coming up with an answer is more likely.

Creative thinking techniques

There is no limit to ways there are of thinking creatively. Some techniques you can begin with are:

  • Brainstorm ideas on one topic onto a large piece of paper: don’t edit these. Just write them down.
  • Allowing yourself to play with an idea whilst you go for a walk.
  • Draw or paint a theory on paper.
  • Ask the same question at least twenty times and give a different answer each time.
  • Combine some of the features of two different objects or ideas to see if you can create several more.
  • Change your routine. Do things a different way. Walk a different route to college.
  • Let your mind be influenced by new stimuli such as music you do not usually listen to.
  • Be open to ideas when they are still new: look for ways of making things work and pushing the idea to its limits.
  • Ask questions such as ‘what if….?’ Or ‘How….?

Combine analytical and creative thinking skills

Many important breakthroughs in science and innovation have resulted from:

  • Focusing on a subject in a logical, analytical way for some time, thinking through possible solutions.
  • Daydreaming or distracting the mind, but holding the same problem lightly ‘at the back of the mind’.
  • The answer has often emerged on dreams or daydreams when the innovator was not trying so hard to find the answer. However, the daydream on its own did not achieve anything.

Creative Problem-Solving

Creative problem-solving stands out as innovative. A creative problem solver will find new solutions, rather than simply identifying and implementing the norm. You might brainstorm new ways to cut energy use, find new ways to cut costs during a budget crisis, or develop a litigation strategy to defend a client. These all entail creative thinking on your part.

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