Looking for prompts for breaking creative rules and generating fresh ideas?

Get into these thirty-five creative thinking starters to inspire you, change your perspective, spur new interactions, odd instructions, and creative rule detours.

Take them to completion. Take them and leave them. Take them for what they are. Take them for what they aren’t. Take them to creative places you’ve never explored before. Simply, take a step to start.



  1. Create a photo folder on your phone that’s simply for inspiration wherever you need it.
  2. Collect QR codes for random sources that inspire you.
  3. What things could you add to your workspace to more richly inspire innovative ideas?
  4. Describe the soul of whatever you do. Use that description, no matter what format it’s in, to imagine ideas and shape your decisions.
  5. Re-imagine whatever you are working on. Give the space (physical or virtual) you most love way more room and prominence than it really should have. How does that change what happens?
  6. What’s a better mix of respecting your past and simultaneously changing it than you’ve thought about before?
  7. Grab ideas and things from anywhere and anytime. Place them within work that reflects your view of the world.
  8. What’s the bigger version of you that would make the world incredibly better?
  9. Reinvent what you did before and upscale it to create more WOW than it ever has.

Changing Your Perspective

  1. Surround yourself with familiar things in unfamiliar places.
  2. Create a completely blank space that you can stare at and imagine ideas.
  3. Move frequently. If not, then switch around rooms inside your house to create a new situation. If not that, switch something around in the room where you spend the most time.
  4. What influenced you as a young child? Incorporate early influences into whatever you’re doing today, no matter how old you are.
  5. How could you make it work to give one person responsibility for directing every part of your customer experience?
  6. Imagine what you do at a monumental scale. Describe what would happen when that’s your reality.
  7. As you completely re-imagine something, what magic from the past must you preserve?
  8. Rename obscure things with names that really describe them. What will you call those things now?


  1. If you invited everyone concerned about whatever you’re working on to a meal and conversation, who is on the guest list?
  2. Make cards for the next completely obscure holiday. Give one to every neighbor that you don’t know yet.
  3. What relief can you bring to your audiences that they’re not expecting?
  4. Create something in a particular form but don’t call it what it is. You’ll make people think about it in a different way because of that.
  5. If you gave people more things that they understood right away, what would you free them to enjoy more?
  6. List people who could use your assistance by extending a hand to help them strengthen their platforms in the world.

Odd Instructions


  1. Wear your strategy on your sleeve. What are ideas to do that?
  2. Design an idea that you implement even though you’ll never experience it or know what the finished product will be like.
  3. Make something just a little off from what everyone else thinks is right or perfect. Why? Because nobody will notice a slight deviation from the typical.
  4. Pick a number between 1 and 100. Open four books to the numbered page you selected. Smash the contents together into a new story.
  5. Blow up predictable algorithms. Assemble random elements into less-than-obvious collections united by unusual, even indiscernible, connections.
  6. Stage your collections and where you put them like it’s your museum.
  7. Make a t-shirt with your life’s biggest lesson on it. What’s it going to say?

Creative Rule Detours


  1. What new inspirations to create would emerge for you when you don’t expect what you’ve created to last until this time next year?
  2. What’s the thing you’d do this minute that you’d usually never do just to avoid doing what you are supposed to be doing.
  3. Spend the next week in creative upheaval. If you liked even ⅓ of it, do it again the week after next.
  4. Take the rules under which you’ve traditionally operated as inspiration for doing new things (rather than as restrictions on your imagination).
  5. For the next 72 hours, stop thinking. Just do


Mike Brown

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