Instant! Creative Thinking

Your Creative Thinking Skills Can be Enhanced, Expanded and Enriched.

“52 Daily Ways to Develop Your Creative Thinking Skills”

This section of my website is to help anyone and everyone who wants to improve their creative thinking skills and abilities on their own.

32 Traits come from my 1980 study of the traits of highly creative people.  The other 20 come from the work of my major professor, colleague and friend, Dr. E. Paul Torrance and his 50 years of study and his TTCT work.

First let’s begin with a basic truth:

“We are all born creative.”

As children we often practice the traits of highly creative people who accept and believe they are creative that we admire later.

By the time we have entered the 4th year in school to completed the 6th grade we have begun to put away our creative ways and have begun to stop thinking creatively.

My goal is to introduce you to 52+ separate traits of highly People, who accept and believe they are creative that we can all redevelop and continually increase and improve throughout our entire lives.

52 Traits

These are traits I discovered in a study of the traits of highly People who accept and believe they are creative that experts tended to agree upon.  I have been using the first 32 since 1983 to help people explore how to increase their creative thinking in their daily lives.

52 Creative Thinking Traits

This list contains E. Paul Torrance’s creative thinking traits that his TTCT tests examine plus the 32 Crayon Breaker traits I have been discussing since 1980 around the globe.

Each of these can be observed, measured (quantitatively or qualitatively) and replicated.  Therefore each of these can be trained, taught, coached, counseled and improved throughout our entire lives daily.

We as teachers, trainers, counselors, coaches, managers, supervisors, parents, friends can help ourselves continuously improve, expand, enrichen and deepened our creative thinking and the creative thinking of our children, friends, fellow employees and staffs.

Abstract, can easily move from reality to—let your rational or imaginative mind think abstractly

Adaptable – choose to practice being adaptable in your thinking and creating

Breakthrough from Current Limits, can – let no BOX close you in, real or imaginary

Change of Context (cross-interpretation) – choose to think from different contexts

Combination of Ideas/Facts (Synthesis) – often practice combining ideas to generate even more.

Curious – keep the born gift of curiosity…always seek to see, taste, smell, hear, touch differently

Divergent thinker – strive for many ideas, viewpoints, perspectives before choosing the idea to use as your solution

Elaborative – in drawing, speaking – add detail, make your stories and drawings more vivid

Energetic – add energy to your life and all that you do

Fantasy life when young – remember your fantasy life from childhood and relive it

Fantasize, able to — use your ability to fantasize every day for fun and profit to solve problems

Feelings & Emotions, expresses –  explore and use your feelings

Feelings & Emotions, senses – take time to consider your feelings and emotions

Flexible in problem situations – strive to be open and not rigid or closed in your thinking

Flexible thinker – creates different types of ideas – generate many different types of answers

Fluent – produces many ideas – generate 6, 12, 144 ideas not just one answer

Future oriented – look into the future to explore what may happen, might happen, will happen

Humor, unique sense of – explore your sense of humor, experiment with it, use it

Humor, varied sense of – widen your sense of humor to find more things funny

Humorous Perspective – look at life through humor finding glasses

Idealistic – strive to be idealist more each day

Imaginative – use your imagination, leave rationale and logic behind occasionally

Independent – strive to be authentic, to be you, to think your own thoughts

Ingenious – strive to go beyond the average, the good, even the great, strive to be ingenious

Learning, always – read, watch movies, listen to dvds, tapes, talk to and listen to many people

Movement & Sound (Sense change) – focus more on movement and sound in your life

Multiple Idea Combinations – deliberately combine ideas to produce even more and richer ones

Non-conforming – strive to be authentic, be yourself

Not motivated by money – find other stronger motivators than money or rewards

Observant, highly – see, see, see, look more to see, to truly see

Open-ended – resist going for closure too soon

Openness-resisting early closure or completion – don’t build fences and walls around ideas

Original – uniqueness – strive to be authentic, to be you, develop your unique talents, gifts, passions

Passionate about their work – look beyond just doing work, getting rewards strive to find passions in your life.

Perceives world differently – practice seeing things differently every day

Perspective, Internal – easily sees into problems & things – use internal perspectives often

Perspective, Macro Scale [seeing from larger view] – back away multiple distances to see bigger picture/scope.

Provocative Viewpoint, takes – choose to be provocative to explore new directions, ideas

Question asker – ask, ask, ask, ask…and learn thru asking even more questions

Richness & Colorful Detail in thinking and communicating – see and add detail and color to your life.

See possibilities – see beyond the possible and probable seek the potential

Self- knowledgeable – study yourself, learn who you are, have been, are becoming

Self-actualizing – strive to find your talents and to maximize them with passion

Self-disciplined – you are your best judge, displinarian, become focused, organized

Sense of destiny – think about what might be your destiny, what might you make it

Sensitive – look beyond facts, feel and think

Severely critical of self, their work, potential of area of focus and the potential of other people – accept that you are critical and learn from it rather than deminishing yourself.

Specific interests – focus on your chosen interests rather than striving to be WELL-ROUNDED.

Synthesize correctly often intuitively – look for the picture, pattern, whole

Tolerant of ambiguity – accept that there are often many answers, perspectives, realities

Unusual Viewpoint, sees from, easily – choose to view from various viewpoints and unique ones

Visualize – sensory or imaginary/intuitive – use your mind to see, sense, imagine

Explanation of the Traits (Robert Alan Black’s 32 Traits)

1. sensitive

Being sensitive helps creativeness in many ways: a. it helps with awareness of problems, known & unknown b. it helps people sense things easier c. it helps to cause people to care and commit themselves

to challenges or causes.

2. not motivated by money

As important as money is in most societies or economies it is not a driving force for a highly creative person. Generally they have an intuitive sense of the amount of money they basically need and once that need is fulfilled then money stops affecting or driving them.

3. sense of destiny

Intuitively People who accept and believe they are creative know that they have a purpose, a destiny or they realize that they can choose or create one to drive them to reach greater heights of skill, ability, or talent

4. adaptable

Without the ability to adapt people could not become more creative. But rather than adapt to something they choose to adapt things to suit them, their needs or the goals they are striving towards.

5. tolerant of ambiguity

Two or more things or ideas being right at the same time challenges the thinking of a highly creative person. They love to be ambiguous to challenge other people and ideas. Ambiguity helps them see things from many different perspectives all at the same time.

6. observant

People who accept and believe they are creative constantly are using their senses: consciously, sub-consciously and unconsciously, even non-consciously.

7. perceive world differently

Thoreau talked about people drumming to a different drum beat. People who accept and believe they are creative thrive on multiple ways of perceiving: seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting, sensing things. These different perspectives open up their minds to unlimited possibilities.

8. see possibilities

People who don’t believe they are creative, people who are fearful or resistant to creativeness or creative thinking prefer to work within limits with limited possibilities. People who accept and believe they are creative love to see many, even infinite possibilities in most situations or challenges.

9. question asker

People who accept and believe they are creative, especially highly creatives, probably came out of their mothers wombs asking questions. Its in their nature to question. Question yes, not actually criticize. Their questioning nature often mistakenly appears as criticism when it is simply questioning, exploring, examining, playing with things as they are or might be.

10. can synthesize correctly often intuitively

This is the ability to see the whole picture, see patterns, grasp solutions with only a few pieces, even with major pieces missing. People who accept and believe they are creative trust their intuition, even if it isn’t right 100% of the time.

11. able to fanaticize

Stop looking out the window Billy. Susie pay attention. Teachers, parents, and even friends often tell People who accept and believe they are creative this. Highly Creative believe they are creative love to wander through their own imaginary worlds. This is one of the major themes of the very popular cartoon strip Calvin and Hobbes. Both Calvin and Hobbes (Calvin’s alter ego?) are perpetual CRAYON BREAKERS.

12. flexible

People who accept and believe they are creative are very flexible when they are playing with ideas. They love to look at things from multiple points of view and to produce piles of answers, maybes, almosts, when other people are content with the or an answer or solution.

13. fluent

It could be a door stop, a boat anchor, a weapon, a prop, a weight for holding down papers, etc., etc., etc. This is what a highly creative person would say about the possible uses of a brick.

14. imaginative

People who accept and believe they are creative love to use their imaginations to play to make seem real to experiment.

15. intuitive

The more creative a person is the more they tap their intuition skills; the abilities to see answers with minimum facts, to sense problems even when they aren’t happening.

16. original

Being original is a driving force for People who accept and believe they are creative. They thrive on it.

17. ingenious

Doing the unusual. Solving unsolvable problems. Thinking what has never been thought of before. These are all traits of highly creative people that make them ingenious at times.

18. energetic

Challenges, problems, new ideas once committed to by a highly creative person truly excite them and provide them with seeming unlimited amounts of energy; such as Sherlock Holmes once he grasps a sense of the mystery.

19. sense of humor

Laughter and creativity truly go together. Many experts believe that creativity cant occur without a touch of humor believing that seriousness tends to squelch creativeness or creative thinking.

20. self-actualizing

The psychologist Abraham Maslow created this term in the 1960s representing the ultimate motivator of people the need or desire to be all you can be, to be what you were meant to be.

21. self-disciplined

This is one trait that appears to be ambiguous in highly Creative People. They can appear disorganized, chaotic at times while at the same time they are highly self-disciplined. At the same time they greatly resist the discipline of other people who are not of like creative mind.

22. self-knowledgeable

During my life I have read biographies and biographic sketches of over 4,000 people, mostly considered to be the highest of the highly creatives in their respective fields. One of the few things they had in common is that they all kept some form of journal and were constantly striving to better understand themselves.

23. specific interests

This is still another ambiguous trait of People who accept and believe they are creative. They appear on the surface to be interested in everything, while at the same time they have very specific interests that they commit their true energies and efforts to. By being willing to be exposed to seemingly unlimited interests they discover more about their particular specific interests.

24. divergent thinker

People who accept and believe they are creative love to diverge from the norm, to look at things from multiple positions, to challenge anything that exists. Because of this they are seen at times to be off-key, deviant, atypical, irregular, or uncharacteristic.

25. curious

Like the Cheshire Cat of Alice in Wonderland, People who accept and believe they are creative are continuously curious, often child-like.

26. open-ended

In order to explore many possibilities People who accept and believe they are creative tend to stay open-ended about answers or solutions until many have been produced.

27. independent

People who accept and believe they are creative crave and require a high degree of independence, resist dependence but often can thrive on beneficial inter-dependence.

28. severely critical

Yes People who accept and believe they are creative challenge most everything, every idea, every rule. They challenge, challenge, and challenge some more to the point that most other people see their challenging as severe criticism.  They are generally most critical of…1. themselves, 2. their work, 3. their professions, 4. potentials of people, organizations, governments, countries, the world or humanity in general.

29. non-conforming

Conforming is the antithesis, the opposite of creativeness and in order to be creative, People who accept and believe they are creative must be non-conforming and go against the norm, swim up stream.

30. confident

This is another ambiguous trait in People who accept and believe they are creative. When they are at their most creative they are extremely confident. When they are in a stage of frustration when nothing seems to be working they often lack confidence. After much positive experience they begin to trust themselves and know that they will become depressed, frustrated nearly devastated but their internal sub-conscious confidence keeps them moving or at least floating until they experience or discover an aha! (a breakthrough idea or piece of information)

31. risk taker

This trait is a general mis-understanding of many people who do not believe they are creative or people who fear the creativeness of People who accept and believe they are creative. Highly Creative People are not really risk takers because they do not see what they are doing as a risk. They simply see it as a possible solution or path towards a solution. They have other possible solutions, often many others in their head or their notes to use if a particular idea or solution does work. As Thomas Edison once said when asked how it felt to have failed nearly 7,000 times trying to discover the best filament for an incandescent light bulb, those are not failures, they are solutions to problems I haven’t started working on yet.

32. persistent

Charles Goodyear (discoverer & inventor of vulcanized rubber) and Chester Carlson (inventor of electrostatic copying, the Xerox process: xerography) are two of the best examples of this trait in People who accept and believe they are creative. Both of them worked over 30 years trying to make a solution they discovered work. People who accept and believe they are creative do not give up on things that mean a lot to them.

33 to 52

Come from the work of Dr. E. Paul Torrance will be added based on his 50 years work from the TTCT = Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking.

– – – –

Torrance measures on TTCT  measures for the following traits.

On the verbal form

1. Fluency,

2. Flexibility

3. Originality

On the figural, the 5 norm referenced scores are

1.             fluency,

2.             originality,

3.             elaboration,

4.             abstractness of titles, and

5.             resistance to premature closure.

In addition to the initial 5, 13 criterion referenced indicators are scored as well:

6.             Emotional expressiveness

7.             Storytelling articulateness

8.             Movement or action

9.             Synthesis of incomplete figures

10.             Synthesis of line or circles

11.             Expressiveness of titles

12.             Unusual visualization

13.             Internal visualization

14.             Humor

15.             Richness of imagery

16.             Colorfulness of imagery

17.             Boundary breaking

18.             Fantasy

If you practice or focus on one of these 32/52 traits Monday to Friday for a week and then focus on another the next week and continue doing this you will expand your natural creativeness tremendously.


Robert Alan Black, Ph.D., CSP

Creative Thinking Consultant, Creative Problem Solver, Idea Generator, Creativity speaker and consultan