Take alternate routes to creativity
by Nancy Rathbun Scott
Creative ideas flourish in altered mental states - when we're just waking up, during or after physical exercise, after the second beer or when we're involved in unrelated activities or play, according to Rozanne Weissman, a frequent speaker on creativity. The challenge? Finding ways to alter our mind set. Weissman offers these five suggestions.
1. Loosen ingenuity with humor (a good laugh unleashes imagination).
2. Kill old habits (particularly the 10 phrases most hazardous to a creative solution):
* There's only one answer;
* That's not logical;
* Follow the rules;
* Be practical;
* Avoid ambiguity;
* To err is wrong;
* Play is a waste of time;
* It's not in my area;
* Don't be ridiculous;
* I'm not creative.
3. Put creative problems on the back burner so ideas can boil over later. (Too much mental effort will block solutions. Instead, play around while ideas percolate).
4. Brainstorm many, small ideas for big breakthroughs (generate lots of "what-if" questions; let all ideas fly).
5. Believe in your own creativity. Psychologists have confirmed that the single distinguishing factor between creative people and their lackluster counterparts is belief in their own creativity. Take risks, look outside yourself, tolerate ambiguity and don't be afraid to look foolish. "Creativity is the sex of our mental lives," concludes Weissman.
Nancy Rathbun Scott is a business writer living in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached at author@nancyscott.com. Visit www.nancyscott.com for more information.

@2004 Nancy Scott