Every idea, good or bad, started from somewhere, and all creativity is rooted in two words: what if. Those two words may result in absolute brilliance, or a total disaster. But the fact of the matter, is that those words start all creative thought. There may be a few variations, and some might not consciously think or say the words, but they are always implied. The two words of creativity are: what if.
Ask What If . . .
Creativity is more than just putting in the time to slap some things together. It involves mixing and matching things that may not have gone together before, and investigating the best option. It includes the hysterically bizarre scenarios and making adjustments until things work. In order to instigate any type of creativity, you have to begin by asking for possibilities, no matter how far out there they might be. What if . . .?
A classic fairy tale story where a princess is rescued by a knight in shining armor, needs some creativity to be interesting and different. Generating the different ideas is begun by asking “What if?”. So, we need to make the story unique and stand out, we have a problem, and we need some creative ideas. What if the knight wasn’t what the princess expected? What if the knight was weird or different in some way?
Entertain the Crazy
Ideas have their own little personalities, they are all shy. The good ideas will hide deep inside your brain and stay there. The first ideas to come are sometimes the crappy ones. The good ideas push them out first to see how you will treat them. If you throw away the first ideas because they aren’t “good”, then the good ideas won’t come out because they don’t want to be treated the same way. When you treat each idea like a possibility, even the bizarre ones, then the ideas will come more freely.
Once you have few ideas available, you can play with them. Combine, trim, tweak, or embellish on each idea. The final solution may not come out fully formed, but it may come in pieces that need to be adjusted and polished before it will all fit together. Maybe the knight in shining armor doesn’t have a white horse, maybe he goes by foot, or travels by seven league boots. Maybe the actual solution is that the knight doesn’t travel at all, he was always there all along. Or he came from the future, from another planet!
A dilemma is only solved after “what if’s” are introduced. The possible solutions may be completely off the wall to begin with, but in allowing them to be acknowledged, the ideas will continue until the appropriate solution is found. What if we allowed any hair-brained idea to come into existence either by voicing it, or by consciously acknowledging the thought? This may mean allowing a complete exploration of the idea. I have to imagine that entertaining the “what if” questions that pop into our minds would mean an increase of creativity and solutions.
Either in everyday problems, or in plot holes, encouraging your creative mind is how you find solutions. Any scenario can be addressed or improved by asking “What if?”. From figuring out what to eat with the various ingredients found in the house, to finding ways to fixing the running toilet. Discovering what would make a story more interesting, or coming to understand the motive of the villain. These answers are only found by exploring the possibilities that come to mind.
What If Game
My family likes playing a game when we get together, called “what if”. To play, you need a group of people, three or more, scraps of paper, and pens. We also have a little bowl we like to use, but any container, hat, or designated pile will work. This is an enjoyable game to play with anyone, but is certainly an excellent way to get creative juices flowing.
Each person takes a paper and writes a question beginning with “what if”. The questions are put in the bowl or pile, mixed, and everyone draws a paper and writes an answer to the question. We like to put them back in the bowl to again scramble what paper we have, but that is probably an optional step. Next, one person reads the what if question on their paper, the next person reads the answer on their own. The combination of the mismatched phrases become absolutely hilarious! You continue around the circle until everyone has read the answer and asked the question on their slip of paper. Then you continue to play as many additional rounds as you like.