The Ebbs and Flows of Creative Thinking | A Toolbox

The Ebbs and Flows of Creative Thinking | A Toolbox

I once thought ‘Well, I’m creative now. I know how to be as creative as possible all the time.’ Did I know everything I wanted about creative thinking?


Yes. I am a fool. One of the meanings, now lost, for the word ‘Fool’ is an agent of change. I change stuff like you do. You see differently and you express that in your way. Does this ever change? Yes. We creative types are always in a state of flux. We do reach plateaus and think we’ve completed creativity.

How to Work with Ebbs and Flows of Creative Thinking

One of my favourites that I used religiously for years was a journal. I called it ‘You are your own medicine’. I recorded how I felt and what I did after every writing session. I also added everything I’d learned from reading, from doing and listening.

It grew into lots of lists. That’s what I have now when I am writing Jelly Trumpet. Lists of things that in themselves are not interesting but when combined with an item from another list it triggers original thought.

The Journal

I do recommend this idea. Record what makes a difference in your work. Keep stray thoughts and criticise your work. Don’t get carried away. There will be occasions when there is nothing to record.

The journal will be built into a self-help, self-coaching manual. No one, except you, can make you more creative, and extract every fibre of creative material.

The journal is a foundation.

What Else Helps with Ebb and Flow?

Your toolkit. As mentioned above these can be lists of what works for you. Because I write I have ‘checklists’ for character creation, plot creation, themes, visual gags and a lot of random ones specific to a writing project like lists of what colours mean. The character of each penguin from the Madagascar films. Go to town here. What works for you? Perhaps even a list of what DOES NOT work, so you don’t repeat mistakes.

The 9 Trumpets of Creativity

Have a play with this list. Does it work for you? Does one or two items work? None? Build your tool list as a core of your work on your creative self.

This list is derived from a model called SCAMPER, also known as ‘Osbourne’s List’.

Build your tools from this:

1. Put to Other Uses

In what new way can I use this idea?

2. Adapt

How can I adapt this idea to make something new? What does this idea suggest?

3. Modify

What can I change, the colour, the speed, the shape etc.?

4. Magnify, Minify

Make the idea bigger, make the idea smaller and what do you get?

5. Substitute

What can I use instead of this? What could this replace? Change the time, the place, the person etc.

6. Rearrange

A pattern has been made. How can you change that pattern? Can you change the order of appearance, the placement or anything else?

7. Reverse

What if this was backward? What if you started with the end?

8. Combine

Can I blend this idea with another? Can I make an assortment?

9. What if?

The two most powerfully creative words in the world. Combine with a quota, e.g. ask 50 – 100 what ifs?

Download The 9 Trumpets of Creativity here

A Final Word – The Quota for Creative Thinking

Add a quota to whichever way you are generating ideas for increased power, insights and unique insights. So, you wish to generate ideas? Give yourself a quote, look for 50 or better still 100 ideas. It’s graft. With practice you’ll be creating more ideas than you thought possible.

Stay fun, 

Jim from Jelly Trumpet

About Jelly Trumpet

Jelly Trumpet is the ‘World’s only comedy podcast about creativity.’Listen to the struggles of Jim, a struggling writer and Mr b, a musician, as they attempt to put a podcast together.

Jelly Trumpet is full of tools and tips and really is a useful and insightful podcast about creativity. Give it a go eh?

Join the fun on all the major streaming and podcast platforms:

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