1. Affirm to yourself every morning: ‘I am a creative powerhouse.’ ‘I am constantly attracting creative ideas.’ ‘I am an artist.’ ‘My brain is beautiful.’
2. Appeal to the senses. Work in the grocery store. Create art in jazz clubs. Write at airports. This stuff works.
3. Ask yourself the same question over and over until you’ve come up with over 100 answers.
4. Become a Wordsmith.
5. Do Morning Pages. (Personally, this is my absolute #1 technique for becoming a creative powerhouse. At least TRY it.)
6. Every 50 minutes, take a brain break.
7. Every time you observe something, ask yourself, ‘How does this fit in to my theory of the universe?’ (Thank you, Linus Pauling!)
8. Fatigue your mind. Detach from your current project and go do something completely different. Ideas will come because, often times, when you care the least, you do the best. Intentionality blocks creativity.
9. Get feedback. It’s awfully hard to be creative alone.
10. Go for four-hour drives down highway 70 in the December fog while listening to Iron & Wine and eating Tabasco Slim Jims. (Hey, that’s how I came up with this VERY list last night!)
11. Go to NY, PDX and San Fran. Walk the streets. List, list-EN, watch, take notes.
12. Google EVERYTHING.
13. Hang out at Borders.
14. Hang out with people who think differently than you.
15. Hang out with people who work in TOTALLY different fields than you.
16. Just listen. Anyone who says, ‘I never have any good ideas,’ or ‘I have writer’s block’ or ‘There’s nothing good out there,’ … IS A TERRIBLE LISTENER. To themselves. To the world. To others. I mean, seriously, you’ve got to be nuts to NOT have ideas. They’re everywhere! Waiting for you to pluck them.
17. Let your audience members, fans and readers help you. Leave comments and questions open. They’re smarter than you think and they see things you never could because you’re on the inside.
18. Listen to really cool, weird, eclectic, unique and creative music. Good suggestions include Morphine, Radiohead, Tool, Chris Whitley, Medeski, Martin and Wood, Thievery Corporation and, of course, Mr. Tom Waits.
19. Maintain portable creative environments in your car, house and at work.
20. Make lists for EVERYTHING. Longer is better.
21. Make sure everything you know is written down somewhere. Because if you don’t write it down … IT NEVER HAPPENED. (Ever.)
22. Pick up one of David Mack’s comic books or graphic novels. Absolutely the most creative guy I’ve ever met. (I totally sat next to him on a plane! Eep!)
23. Play an instrument. If you don’t know how, take lessons. Or just fake it. Or do what my friend Robert does and make your own instruments. (P.S. If you’re the kind of person who says stuff like, ‘Yeah, but I’ve never been a musical or creative person…’ then you really, really need to read the rest of this list!)
24. Practice aggressive pondering.
25. Read books about thinking. I suggest How to Have a Beautiful Mind and Thinking for a Living.
26. Read Copyblogger.
27. Read Don The Idea Guy’s ebook.
28. Read every book ever written by DeBono and Mihaly.
29. Read Hugh’s ebook.
30. Read Seth’s blog.
31. Run, walk, bike, swim, hike or any other form of consistent, rhythmic exercise for at least 30 minutes, every single day. But it has to be 30. The endorphins don’t kick in until about 20. (Oh, and don’t forget to bring paper. Unless you’re in the pool. In that case, bring a portable, waterproof dry erase board. And sure, the other swimmers might think you’re crazy. But it could be worse: you could have a damn nametag tattooed on your chest!)
32. Set idea quotients. Preferably 50’s and 100’s. Quantity leads to quality.
33. Soften your eyes.
34. Stop hanging out with people who don’t know how to value your thinking yet. They are actively hampering your ability to be creative.
35. Teach daily. (Yourself AND others.)
36. Think on paper. Draw pictures of your ideas and problems. Even if you (think you) suck.
37. THREE WORDS: colored index cards.
38. U NEED 2 READ EVERY DAY. And not the paper. Not magazines. Not crap. I’m talking about books. (If you’d like a list of 194 of my favorite books, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to share.)
39. Use un-lined paper. Lines are for math people.
40. Watch kids. Hang out at the Children’s Section at Borders. (Just not too long. Stalker.)
41. Watch The Simpsons.
42. Watch uber creative people do their thing. It’s neat.
43. Watch, study and discuss movies by super-creative, cool, unique and slightly weird directors and writers like Tarentino, Mel Brooks, The Cohen Brothers and Wes Anderson.
44. Work on the floor.
45. Work on the wall.
46. Work on the ceiling. (I hear it worked pretty well for Michelangelo.)
47. Write out an incomplete sentence that begets creative completion, i.e., ‘If clients aren’t actively telling their friends about you…’ Then Google that sentence. Then make a list of 100 ways to finish it. Then post it on your blog. Then get your readers to finish it too. (This is my favorite creative exercise.)
48. Write with pretty colors. I like lavender.
49. Write. Every-single-day. Period.