As a professional magician, I have had to learn to think creatively. Now, this doesn’t come naturally to me.  I used to say that I didn’t have a creative bone in my body. However, what I have come to understand is that I actually was creative all the time, but my creative process was a bit different.  My unique ability is to synthesize information, a lot of information, take a bit from here, a bit from there, and then put it all together with the end result that I have something just a bit different than anything else.

Some will say that is not creativity, and that is what I used to believe. But now I know that the ability to take things and then make something different from what it was before, it indeed creativity.  However, I also discovered some tools for helping me with my creativity I would like to share.  Creative thinking is like physical fitness: Consistent exercise keeps your mind in shape. Train your mental muscles with these creativity workouts:

  • Choose four or five objects from around your office or home. Set them on a table and try to think of different uses for each object. A spatula, for example, might be useful as a paintbrush; a hat could be used as a planter. Try this exercise with your co-workers to see what outlandish ideas people can come up with.
  • Argue both sides of a question. Take a simple statement, like “Broccoli is good for you.” Come up with two reasons why it might be true. Then think of two reasons why it might not be true. You’ll get better at viewing ideas from different angles, and seeing advantages and disadvantages, to each position. This will lead to clearer thinking and better decisions.
  • Look at a famous painting like the Mona Lisa and brainstorm at least five explanations for her mysterious smile. Look at photographs or images on the Internet and create a quick story for them—what are the people doing? This teaches you to look beyond the surface for causes and reactions.
  • Go to a Dollar Store. Pick up 6 items and try to figure out something you can build or create with these items that goes beyond their original purpose. In fact, I get many of my ideas for Magical Routines by seeing simple $1.00 Dollar Store items.

Everybody can be creative.  Yes, you can be creative.  You just have to train yourself to see the world and what it holds in a different way.

Michael Reist is a professional magician who lives in Annville, PA with his wife and animals. You may contact him by e-mailing him at [email protected] or calling (610) 698-0311.