I cringe when people say, “I’m just not creative.” It’s almost as annoying as when people tell me they’re “not a runner.” My typical reply to that statement goes “if your legs work, you’re a runner.”
My reply to the “not being creative” comment is similar.
If you have a brain, you’re creative.
The exact definition of creativity is “the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.” I’ll circle back to the “artistic work” part of the definition later. For now, I’m focusing on “the use of imagination or original ideas.”
Every single human being has an imagination. We use our imagination all day long. We imagine what we’ll look like in the summer if we stick to – or give up – our exercise plan and vividly daydream about vacations or romantic situations. Some people even envision their lunch possibilities. I’ve caught myself daydreaming about leftovers or Taco Bell on far too many occasions.
These ideas are original because no one else on Earth has these exact thoughts. There’s not a single person imagining your beach body (OK, maybe) or daydreaming about your vacation or how many Nachos BellGrande meals you’re going to shovel down your throat today.
Humans are creative. The problem is self-talk. People are ingenious – just look around at all of the brilliant everyday inventions we all take for granted – but many convince themselves that all their ideas suck butterballs.
Well, here’s a not-so-secret secret for everyone reading this article – all our ideas suck unless we put them into action. These ideas will always suck until tested to find out if there’s a chance it’s pretty damn good or, yeah, you were right, it sucked big time.
The “I’m just not creative” excuse often infiltrates a person’s brain when they’re put on the spot either at work, at home, or online, and need to come up with new ideas.
OK, now back to the “artistic work” part. I don’t believe creativity is exclusive to artistic pursuits. People are constantly forced to be creative at work, at home, or to solve any level of problem.
I’ll often get stuck while developing new ideas for jokes, Reels, or content for my parenting website. If my creative wheels get stuck in the deep mud. If my imagination wheels are spinning 100 miles an hour, but I’m going nowhere, I’ll often fall back on a creativity hack I developed years ago called the Lie, Cheat, & Steal method to be more creative.
I first discussed this concept a few years back in an article about why writer’s block is bullshit and explained how the LCS method really kicks my creativity muscle in the face.
LCS involves three sneaky methods to provoke creativity. Not-so-ironically, the name was stolen from one of my all-time favorite professional wrestlers, Eddie Guerrero.
Be More Creative With The ‘Lie, Cheat & Steal’ Method
Eddie Guerrero is a former world champion and a member of one of the most revered families in professional wrestling. Before his untimely passing in 2005, Guerrero was one of the most popular wrestlers in the WWE. During the height of his heel run (that’s wrestling speak for a “bad guy”), Guerrero preached the three tenants of getting ahead in wrestling.
Lie. Cheat. Steal.
In other words, do whatever it takes in the name of winning.
Guerrero’s advice is perfect for the fictitious world of professional wrestling but is it good advice for real life?
Yes. If done correctly (and ethically).
Here’s how my…OK, OUR…Lie, Cheat, & Steal method works…
Sit down with a blank piece of paper and conjure up the biggest bullshit lie ever associated with what you’re looking to accomplish. The lie can be about yourself or the subject you’re working on. Write a lie so massive it would be impossible for anyone to ever believe.
Now, prove that lie to be true. Make your prose convince you, a family member, or a total stranger that this massive lie is the stone-cold truth.
Here’s an example from my own work. One of my writing clients makes personalized handkerchiefs, and she can monogram each with initials, handwriting, and even drawings or quotes. She needed an article about why these handkerchiefs would make an excellent father-of-the-bride gift.
While writing the article, all of the reasons seemed so obvious. I needed to shake things up and develop new reasons to gift a man this handkerchief but couldn’t think of any original reasons.
“If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.” – Eddie Guerrero
Using the LCS method for creativity, I came up with the biggest lie possible. I imagined a father-of-the-bride needing the handkerchief to choke out the wedding photographer. My mind dreamt up this scenario where the photographer was doing a terrible job, and the bride was getting upset. After exchanging words with her dad, the old man covered the photographer’s mouth with the custom handkerchief and dragged him into a room.
I’ll be the first to admit this scenario is slightly demented, but here’s what happened – the mental image of an older man putting a handkerchief over someone’s mouth made me realize that handkerchiefs aren’t just useful for the item’s owner. It’s a wedding. The father-of-the-bride might need to hand the handkerchief over to his crying wife or a family member repeatedly sneezing during the ceremony or to his new son-in-law who got hammered and vomited in the charter bus back to the hotel. Coming up with a massive lie led to a practical application for my client’s article.
Whether it’s developing a new smartphone app or coming up with a unique way to generate business, start thinking up some insane lies that your product or service could never do in a million years. These insane ideas will eventually regress into real, tangible ideas to help move the process forward.
The next time you’re having trouble being creative, give lying a try. When you’re done, either a new story, new article idea, or new angle to a stalled project you’ve been putting off for months will emerge. At the very least, you’ll have a fun time thinking about random assaults at weddings.
You’re not allowed to cheat off other people but you’re absolutely allowed to rip yourself off.
Go back into your archives, find a finished article, story, work project, or assignment, and do the exact opposite of whatever you did to complete that job.
Let’s use creative writing as an example. Let’s assume you’re a writer, and you go back and look at a piece of work you wrote. Take the entire story and flip everything. If the story was about a man, make it about a woman. If the article was about donating time to shelter animals, take the opposite stance. (Yes, that’s a jerk thing to write about, but this is an exercise in being more creative and not charity).
How is this cheating? You’re taking a successful project and ripping yourself off to find new ways to spark creativity. Remember, it’s not about how it all started. It’s about the end result.
If this doesn’t work, cheat off other people’s work, but be sure to make the end result much different.
Finally, it’s time to flat-out steal (kinda).
People steal ideas all the time because, honestly, there are no original ideas. There are just new approaches to old problems.
Here’s my suggestion from the article about writer’s block, and then I’ll explain how to adapt this idea for your specific needs.
“Grab your absolute favorite novel off the bookshelf. Open to a random page and begin reading. Find the first sentence that really grabs you by the genitals and copy it, word for word, into a new document.
Start typing a brand new story based on that one line. When you get far enough, go back and change that first line to your own words.”
I can’t tell you how many short stories I’ve created by taking one random line from another book.
If you’re trying to be creative with a work project, try Googling similar projects or doing a YouTube search. “Steal” some ideas from those blueprints.
Pretend that your boss walks into your office on Monday and says, “Hey, so I noticed a lot of people use this TikTok thing. We should figure out how to market our company on there. Can you handle this project?”
First, fight back the urge to say, “Yeah, no shit, where the hell have you been?” Take the project on, immediately go online, research how other people found success, and adapt those ideas to your company.
I’m not telling you to literally steal another person’s work, just temporarily channel their mojo and follow their thought process and make the work your own.
Now It’s Time For You To Lie, Cheat and Steal
If you want the Lie, Cheat, and Steal method of being more creative to work, you have to keep one thing in mind. It’s perfectly acceptable to use other people’s work and make it your own. As long as you’re not flat out stealing an idea, plagiarizing, or claiming the ideas to be of your own invention, you can rest easy at night.
Here’s another final thing to keep in mind. No one gives a shit how you came up with an idea as long as you find success.
Best of luck, ya crook.