Author Skill Set: Creativity

I aspire to the be a writer who is constantly improving, pushing myself to take risks, see things a different way, and learn from the incredible people and world around me. In my attempts to do this, I’ve made a list of ten skills that I want to work on. The first (though the order is not important) is creativity skill. I define it this way: the ability to recognize, combine, and develop good story ideas.

Every author event that I’ve attended, someone asks the question, “Where do you get your ideas?” and the answer is always some variation of the concept that ideas come from everywhere.
It’s true. Story ideas, like interesting pebbles, are all around us, just waiting to be collected. Creativity skill comes into play as we learn to recognize them, pick them up, and know what to do with them. The idea for my novel came from a friend of mine who told me that she never visualizes anything when she reads. She might hear the dialogue and the sounds in her mind, but she never forms any mental images. I was astounded. I thought every reader visualized like I do. I still think most readers do, but since then I’ve met others who don’t visualize.
I began to think about this over and over.What other tasks might a non-visualizer have trouble with? Taken to the extreme, could the inability to visualize be considered a handicap? What kind of society would pose problems for a person who can’t visualize things? That led me to conceive of a world in which telekinesis (the ability to move things mentally) was commonplace, which in turn led to the characters and plot of my novel which will be released Fall of 2012.
One of the things I do to exercise creativity skill is to keep an idea box. Anytime I see something that triggers a story idea, I write it down or draw it or cut it out and put it in the box. The box is not organized at all, just a jumble of snatches of things. When I need an infusion of new ideas, I go through the mess in the box and invariably find something that sparks a new direction.
What do you do to sharpen creativity?
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