Nine Ways To Light Your Creativity ON FIRE

Recently by James Altucher: Give and You Will Receive

I felt so ashamed. I had just lost my apartment in the city. I had no jobs. No prospects for jobs. No money. A few years earlier I had millions and then I had nothing. So I sold my apartment, scraped together some cash, and moved 70 miles north of the city. It was in the middle of a blizzard. I was scared of my neighbors.

I couldn’t get out of bed I was so depressed. I gained twenty pounds because I never moved my body. There was blizzard after blizzard. I didn’t go into the city at all, not even to attend the closing of my hated apartment, which took me almost two years to sell (at almost 50% of the price I originally listed at). I had no phone. Didn’t need one. I didn’t feel like I would have any skills for a job and it was a recession anyway. I was really scared because my dad’s career had basically ended in a similar way and then fizzled out from depression. The same thing was going to happen to me, I was sure of it.

I got an email the other day. Someone asked me, “when you are totally out of luck and feeling incredibly down, how do you spark that creativity up so you can get going again?”

We’re all creative people. Unless we’re just going to disappear and die, you have to spark it up again at some point. And recession and politics doesn’t matter. We’re in a $15 trillion economy. There’s $3 trillion in cash lying in the bank. There’s six million private businesses. So once you’re creative again there’s no reason you can’t make money. Lots of it. I don’t care what the debt ceiling did today or what imaginary monster “downgraded” some other imaginary monster. None of that matters for creative people. None of that matters for you and me.

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Nine Steps to Get More Creative RIGHT NOW

Turn Upside Down. Not literally. But take any topic people hold dear. Turn it upside down. Pick a topic that people hold so dear its like a religion (see, “The 10 Commandments of the American Religion”). Education is one of those topics. Start thinking every day of 10 new ways people can get educated. Khan Academy is doing pretty good. Is he the only guy out there who can do something like that? Of course not. Advertising is another area. Publishing is another area. Turn it all upside down.

Real estate is another area that can still be turned upside down. Airbnb is only the start. Zillow is only the start. There’s a million ways. Take any topic that is practically a religious topic. Say out loud, “the way the world does this right now is bull-shit” and start thinking “why” and “how” to make it better. You’re not going to solve all the world’s problems right here. This is all to just start off exercising the creativity muscles. You need to start firing those neurons or axons or whatever again. But you never know, sometimes if you exercise enough, you can actually become a professional piano mover.

List options. In chess, the first thing a grandmaster does when its his turn is not look deeply down one variation but takes a step back and lists all of the possible option moves.

Take a pad (my favorite choice: the waiter’s pad) and start listing options. I still do this all the time. Since its your own private pad your options can be as insane as possible. Who cares? Its your pad!

I made a list of options the other day. Even if I don’t intend to do any of these its always helpful to list the possibilities for yourself. To list your options:

  • Start a fund (this led to another list of types of funds, types of investors, etc) The Wall Street Journa... James Altucher Best Price: $1.21 Buy New $10.41 (as of 08:50 UTC - Details)
  • Start another online business (and then this led to another list)
  • Write a book about “the American Religion” (this led to me doing a list of chapters)
  • Write a novel (working on it today)
  • Try being a standup comedian just once
  • Get more speaking gigs
  • Create a “Dear Abby” column on the blog
  • Pitch a TV show (blech!)
  • Become a world famous painter (why not?)

And so on (these were the least embarrassing so I list them above).

And for every option you list, that creates new potential lists of options. When I write “pitch a TV show” that means I now have to make a list of all the possible options there. The more sub-lists you write, the closer you get to execution.

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Again, this is not supposed to lead to anything (yet) but just as exercises to kickstart the creativity. This also assumes you are getting the rest of your life together: The Daily Practice plus Avoiding Crappy People.

Combine Ideas. Let’s say there are 10,000 possible things you can be interested in. That means there’s over 100,000,000 ways to combine any two ideas to make a new idea. When I first met Claudia (an Argentinian who was obsessed with yoga) I instantly told her, “you should create Tango Yoga!” Take Tango moves, combine them with Yoga moves, write a book, take photos of beautiful tango dancers doing yoga poses, give classes, do a DVD, etc. Only problem is, she’s the only Argentinian on the planet who doesn’t know how to tango.

But that’s just an example. When I started Stockpickr I took my two main interests at the time: making websites, and daytrading, and combined them into one website. BAM!