Marvin Minsky at the KI 2006 artificial intelligence conference in Bremen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have never thought of myself as creative. I am not a designer or developer, whether it be software, music, poetry or new devices. However, I am a student of the creative process and a big believer that techniques, such as heuristics, can be used to help creativity. Relax the Assumption is such a technique.
I have also found that many great thinkers were students of creativity, such as these comments from Marvin Minsky, a legendary MIT professor. Thoughts on the creative process from three other notable thinkers, Hamming, Austin and Munger, are here, here and here.
To substitute for creativity, I use an iterative process. In other words, I keep trying solutions until I find a satisfactory solution. The use of heuristics and other techniques makes the iterative process more efficient. The iterative process requires doggedness, a willingness to not give up, and it works for me most of the time. What I have learned over time is that when I cannot find a solution to a problem I usually have the problem framed incorrectly. Re-thinking the problem, rather than continuing to look for a solution, usually does the trick.
So rather than trying to be "creative", find your own process for how to solve problems and believe in the process so you have the determination to see it through to the end.
Just saw this quote from Jonah Lerner on Mashable.com from a very good article on creativity:
"Because innovation is hard. If it were easy to invent an idea, that idea would already exist. Creative success is not about the avoidance of failure. It’s about failing as fast as possible, going through endless iterations until the idea is perfect."