"The Creativity Challenge" (Adams Media, 2015)

"The Creativity Challenge" (Adams Media, 2015)



Tanner Christensen wants you to think out of the box. “The biggest misconception about creativity is that, first and foremost, it's an artistic endeavor only,” says the Facebook product designer, app developer and author.

Indeed, Christensen’s latest book aims to get uninspired folks out of their funk. “The Creativity Challenge: Design, Experiment, Test, Innovate, Build, Create, Inspire and Unleash Your Genius” offers 150 prompts to get your brain churning, and your hands creating.

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“I've been researching and writing on creativity for the past eight years now, and I've learned that creativity is really complex—even neuroscientists have a hard time describing what it is and how it works,” says Christensen about his impetus for writing the book. “But there are some undoubtedly more straightforward parts of creativity that we can consciously incorporate into our lives. So I've wanted to put something together that could help people make small changes or break away from their usual mental routines.”

Christensen shared a few of his favorite creativity hacks with Metro.

Free writing

“I try to make a daily habit of spending at least five minutes just writing whatever comes to me. I actually made a little app a while ago called Prompts that will remind me, every night at 8 p.m., to do my writing, if I haven’t done it by then. I’ll open the app and it’ll say ‘write about this,’ or ‘answer this question,’ or ‘finish this sentence.’ It really leaves me feeling energized to do something else, or sometimes it’ll spur some new ideas in me.”

Inspiration objects (books, canvases, musical instruments, etc.)

“I’m a genuinely curious person, but sometimes I do need to get out of my routine. One way I do that is by always having one or two random books on my desk, and I’ll swap them out weekly, so I have something new to reference when I feel stuck. I also have canvases lying around my apartment, so I have all these tiny things around me to help spark a motivation to try new things and explore.”

Mind games

“When I was writing the book, I wanted to see what kinds of activities I could create to mimic divergent thinking — or that ability to bounce from one idea to the next really quickly. A good example is how could you look at the physical book itself and think of something else that it could be. Maybe you could make it a hat, or a paperweight, or you could cut off the cover and make it a poster, or if you were feeling aggressive you could use the book to get someone's attention on the other side of the room. That’s often a great way to get unstuck.”