Psychiatrist Phil Stutz and psychotherapist Barry Michels offer smart strategies for a breakthrough in their new book The Tools: Transform Your Problems Into Courage, Confidence and Creativity.
1. I know I have a creative force in me—that I can write or paint or play music—but I don't have a specific idea for a book or a painting or composition. How can I find an idea?
Many people feel the urge to do something creative but can't get themselves started. When they come into our office, they almost all say the same thing: "I know I have the ability. If only I knew exactly what I want to do—paint, write, sculpt—I'd have no trouble getting started." So they wait for that magical idea that will inspire them to begin...but it never seems to come.
New ideas don't come to those who wait and think; they come to those who act. Let's say you want to write a screenplay. To find an idea that you like, you must be already writing. Pick a story that feels "wrong" —those are always easier to find than ones that feel "right." Write a brief summary of the story and make sure you finish it. Then pick another story and do the same thing.
For most people, it's so painful to be wrong they can't act. They need to accept, in fact to desire, the pain of being wrong. But when you're willing to be wrong, you take your ego out of the creative process, and that's when the unconscious will reward you with an idea that turns you on.