12 STEPS TO CREATIVE THINKING by James Lund Do you ever get thinker's block You have to come up with a great idea for a project, buy the perfect gift, write a sermon, develop a solution to an on-going problem - and nothing comes to mind Your frustration at not having a ready response can inhibit any further creative thinking. Don't despair - try one or more of these ideas: 1- Right away, write it down. Record your ideas as soon as you think of them. Keep paper and pen handy at all times - in your car, by your television, on your nightstand.

2- Listen to music. Listen to whatever sparks your imagination, whether it's Bach, the Beatles, or something you " ve never heard before. 3- Exercise. Go for a run, shoot some hoops, do jumping jacks - anything that starts your blood pumping and keeps your mind sharp. 4- Brainstorm with a friend, co-worker, or 6-year-old. Talk with someone who looks at the world differently than you do.

Chances are he or she will inspire a new approach. 5- Do it poorly. If you " re a perfectionist, don't be. Create something that isn't necessarily your best work, but that gets the job done.

Then go back to fix it or redo it. 6- Watch people. Go downtown or to the mall, sit on a bench, and observe the passersby, imagining what kind of life they lead. 7- Keep a journal.

Write about your life and what's important to you, then revisit your old thoughts when you need new ideas. 8- Pray or read the Bible. Putting life into spiritual perspective can take the pressure off needing an immediate solution and can jump-start the creative juices. 9- Free-write.

Sit down at the computer or with a pen and paper and write whatever comes into your mind. You might be surprised at what comes out. 10- Change your locale. Find a new quiet place - a park, the beach, a library, or just a different room - an let your mind wander. 11 Wash the dishes or mow the lawn. It's easy and it gives you a feeling of accomplishment while you " re trying to think.

12- Sleep on it. If nothing is working, your best bet may be to give up for now. Let your subconscious create overnight and you " ll have fresh ideas tomorrow.