How to Stimulate Creative Thinking

I saw an interesting story in the BBC magazine about stimulating creative thinking by walking. There’s a solid core of truth in that for me, but as someone who detests walking that avenue is closed to me. I think that the solution is wider – walking is just one instance of the technique.

That technique is to engage in a mindless activity that can be done on autopilot. Yes, it’s happened to me when driving  a car – did you ever drive somewhere and arrive realising you couldn’t remember the journey? That was scary. I’m not advocating or travel per se as the general solution and especially not driving!

I can get myself into the required state of focused thinking as follows:

1. Having a clear idea of what I’m trying to solve – these days typically a plot problem (though in the past these have been variously computer programming problems or constructional conundra on various projects). Then,
2. Engage in a mundane task which requires minimal thought – maybe just polishing a pair of shoes or repainting a room (that is, decorating).

OK, you say, solving a specific problem is not ‘being creative’. Well, I disagree. The body is engaged, but the mind is free to think – that is what is important. External stumuli must be avoided otherwise the thinking spell is broken.

That is why walking doesn’t do it for me – it holds the potential the meeting of people or observation of events which would break the thinking spell.

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