Basic Strategies to Help Generate Creative Ideas

Coming up with new and creative ideas for a character is, at best, a lot of work. It’s harder to get inspired design ideas if you simply bounce them around in the confines of your mind. If possible, get all of your senses involved.

Learning to Relax

The first and most important thing you can do for yourself when you are faced with a creative problem is to take a deep breath and relax. Talk to yourself a little about the problem. Take another deep breath and make sure you are feeling calm and confident.

The more you can lower your stress and anxiety levels, the better your chances for mental clarity will be as you begin coming up with ideas.

  1. Take a walk and clear your mind: We’re not talking a power walk, where you try to get exercise; we mean a stroll, during which you observe what is around you and your mind can wander. Daydream. Lie down on a grassy hill and look at the clouds. See the shapes within them and let the shapes you see suggest images to you. Sit down on a rock by a stream or river and watch the water. All of these things will help free your mind.
  2. Closely observe the people around you every day: If you do this, you will begin to notice special qualities that you didn’t see before. As your mind begins thinking about your basic character idea, consider applying to your character the individual qualities, traits, physical appearance, quirks, habits, and faults of your friends. Don’t just limit yourself to friends. Include the larger circle of your acquaintances as well as celebrities, politicians, sports stars, and anyone in the public eye. If you are designing a villain, why not base the character on people that you just do not like? You can also look at fictional characters, but watching them is not as much fun as observing real people. Remember that a fictional character is already someone else’s vision and as such is nothing more than a shallow representation of a personality, whereas real people have much more depth.
  3. Have a brainstorming session with a few other people. Brainstorming by yourself is never successful, but brainstorm with four or five people and see what happens. As an example of how well this works, try to think of 50 new and unique ways to use a brick. If you did this exercise alone, you probably couldn’t come up with 50 variations, but if you get four or five creative people together in a room, they will likely come up with some very creative ideas. Of course, many of the ideas will not be usable. Usability is not the point, and it does not matter if some of the ideas are outrageous. The point is to begin looking at the subject in a new light. Figure shows what it can sometimes feel like when you have to come up with new ideas.

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