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Some tricks can be used to help with creativity. That is, they improve emergence of new ideas, thoughts, and observations.

Variable Matrix [1]

Say you're trying to invent a new type of candy.

You have a few parameters to play with:

taste: sweet, sour, salty, spicy
texture: crunchy, chewy
form: bar, balls, powder


  1. Write down all the variable & their values you can think of. This might lead to some insights. Maybe you hadn't considered a candy could be spicy, or could be reduced to a powder.
  2. Next, list every possible combination.
  3. Last, evaluate and label each option, eliminating invalid combinations. You may have dismissed or never thought of a few. By going through every possible combination, you will probably find something unique.

This would look something like:

taste | texture | form
sweet | chewy   | bar       = laffy taffy
sweet | chewy   | balls     = jelly beans
sweet | chewy   | powder    = pixy stix

... and so on ...

There might be a market for a sweet, crunchy snack powder. Maybe a candy like that already exists. It sounds pretty good.

You can use to list the combinations & manage labels for each.


Good sleep is one of the most reliable producers of creative insight. Research shows lack of sleep substantially reduces your aptitude at divergent/creative thinking[2].

It makes sense, too. In REM sleep, our brain concocts & experiences many new situations. We don't have access to this power when awake, so finding ample time to sleep is the key to harnessing our natural creative ability.

Midday naps also show evidence for improved mental function[3], and give us more opportunities to enter the creative gauntlet of REM sleep.

See Sleeping for sleep aid algorithms.

Grid Scanning

1. Think of your vision as a big grid, like a bunch of pixels.
  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  
  5  |  6  |  7  |  8  
  9  | 10  | 11  | 12  
2. Now look at these grid regions one-by-one: 1, 2, 3, 4, in order, and so on..

Usually our vision works by spending most time in areas of interest. There are some areas we never look at directly: the ceiling, some decorations in the corner, the empty walls, etc.

Once you force your visual system to see things in this ordered way, you may notice some new things around you and find new trains of thought.


Substituting something in your logic can help with divergent thinking.

A to B :: B to A

Let's say we know:

when there are lots of clouds, it causes rain.

If we reverse that, going from A -> B, to B -> A, we get a new idea.

when there is rain, it causes lots of clouds.

This idea might be true, false, or not make any sense, but it could lead you to new lines of thought. In this case, you might theorize that rain has a feedback loop effect, causing more future clouds (which it does)

Man for Woman

Take some important information, and substitute a key detail.

For example:

You have a movie about a male superhero. You try replacing it with a female superhero, and see what new ideas emerge.