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Do you ever feel like you can’t access your creativity? You’re not alone!

Former Head of Innovation & Creativity at Disney, Duncan Wardle suggests in this Ted Talk that pressure, everyday stress, and certain environments can stifle creative thinking, leading people to wrongly believe they simply aren’t creative.

While multiple experts agree that everyone has the capacity to be creative, not everyone’s creativity works in the same way. Figuring out how yours works can help you overcome blockers, produce original work and solve complex problems.


Which type of creative thinker are you?

Neuroscientist Arne Dietrich’s Model of Creative Thinking includes four distinct categories. Find out which one you lean towards and how you can boost your creative thinking skills below: 


Spontaneous and emotional

Perhaps the most desired and elusive of all is spontaneous and emotional creativity. Think artists or musicians who describe being swept away in an emotional experience only to produce their next great hit or piece of art. 

For this type of creative thinker, it’s important that they have an environment that suits their personality, such as a safe space to explore and collect their ideas. 


Spontaneous and cognitive 

Ever hit with a solution in the middle of the night? Those prone to genuine ‘a-ha’ moments may be spontaneous and cognitive creative thinkers. Focusing on a problem at length may leave them stumped, so they should make time for unrelated tasks like driving, cleaning, or socialising while their subconscious mind works in the background. 

When seeking inspiration they should set up time to consider or discuss the problem and then organise a later date to come back to it. They may be well served by deliberately not focusing on the problem and keeping busy. 


Physicist Neils Bohr says the model of the atom came to him in his sleep!


Deliberate and emotional

This type of creative person works by pondering and reflecting, however to the outside world it may seem that they are pulling ideas out of thin air. They will have spent time asking questions and considering rather than reading and studying.

These people will get their best ideas when given time and space to think after receiving information. Emotional creatives often fit how we may typically define creativity, and include writers, poets and painters. 


Deliberate and cognitive

This type of creativity combines an existing body of knowledge with inspiration and ingenuity. These types of creative thinkers are good at making connections, and they are often seen testing, learning & making tweaks. 

A deliberate and cognitive creative thinker will thrive best when they have the opportunity and resources to research, trial, and set aside time to be purposefully creative. Lots of people are creative in this way, such as scientists, inventors, chefs, and some artists.  


A photograph of thomas edison
Thomas Edison was a deliberate cognitive creative who invented the lightbulb.


Why work on your creative thinking? 

By working on your skills you can learn to face and enjoy challenges, come up with innovative ideas, solve problems and progress professionally. Furthermore, innovation and creativity are core human elements needed to compete in an increasingly automated world! 

You may fit into one of these types, or multiple. By noticing where and when you are creative you can deliberately recreate these settings to foster your own creativity, and use creative exercises that suit your type to help.  

Not sure where you fit? Take this quiz and find out.  

Do you want to expand your creative thinking? Join our workshop ‘How to Think Creatively’ on Tuesday 14th of May to build your toolkit of creative techniques in a guided, friendly environment. Book your space here.


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To see what other support we have on offer, see our full list of workshops and courses here.