10 Exercises to Spark Original Thinking and Unleash Creativity

10 creative mind exercises

This post was originally published on Adobe Spark.

The ability to think creatively is more important than ever. Whether it’s required at the work place or part of a personal passion, finding innovative and original ways to connect and create is frequently key to our success and personal growth.

Yet, so often it’s hard to harness our creativity when we need it most. And most of us don’t have the time to wait around until inspiration strikes.

So the next time you’re feeling like you’re stuck in a rut, try one of these exercises to help unleash your creativity from its dormant state—or better yet integrate these exercises into your regular routine in order to regularly flex creative muscles.

1. Write a Six-Word Story

This one comes courtesy of Ernest Hemingway who famously wrote, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Your own story doesn’t have to be so dark or so big, but try to boil something meaningful to you down to just six words. Then try to write one every day for a week. Perhaps even add your six-word story to an image in Spark Post to share on social media as a way to inspire others and get feedback.

2. Avoid the Letter “E”

Mike Byster, author of The Power of Forgetting believes that anyone can learn to become a creative thinker. One exercise he says will help you become a faster and more productive thinker is to have a conversation without using the letter “E.” You and your friend must carry on a regular conversation without any long pauses. Your brain is already a human thesaurus; this just makes you use it that way. “It’s outside-the-box thinking on steroids,” Byster says. And just five minutes will give your brain an excellent workout. Bored with not using “e”? Move on to other common letters like R, S, T, or A.

3. Write by Hand

In their book The Creativity Cure: How to Build Happiness With Your Own Two Hands, Carrie and Alton Barron write about how there is a deep satisfaction that comes with creating something by hand. They believe that writing by hand can help transition you to a deeper place.

10 Exercises to Spark Original Thinking and Unleash Creativity Write by Hand

Not sure what to write? They recommend writing out your “psychological clutter”—the things that are worrying or pre-occupying you. Then throw it away and move on.

Related: 3 Storytelling Strategies Guaranteed to Move Your Audience

4. Eliminate “I, “Me,” “My” and “Mine” from Your Vocabulary

In 1936, Dorothea Brand, an American writer and editor, published Wake Up and Live, in which she suggested mental exercises meant to keep your mind sharp. One exercise was to write a letter without using the words I, me, mine, my. The other was to talk for 15 minutes a day without saying those same words. She may have come up with the idea 80 years ago, but it still works as much today as it did then.

5. Give Your Project Limitations

Dr. Seuss wrote Green Eggs & Ham when his editor challenged him to write an entire book using less than 50 different words. If you’re stuck on a project, give it a limitation you wouldn’t otherwise. Whether that means writing an article you thought was going to be 1000 words in 500 words or finishing a weeklong task in three days, approaching your project with new restrictions may just be the most freeing thing you could do.

Get 5 more creativity exercises over on the Spark blog!

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