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When you need to move a heavy piece of furniture, you examine it from multiple angles to figure out the best strategy. In problem-solving, we’re more likely to identify helpful strategies when we explore multiple vantage points as well.

Try this:

  1. Identify the problem. If you need help clarifying what the problem is, exactly, try running your vague issue through this helpful clarification exercise.
  2. Start with a clean piece of paper, and list twenty questions that relate to the problem. If you come up with more than 20, excellent! Do push yourself to come up with at least 20, even if you stall out around 12. The questions that aren’t first to mind often end up being the most compelling or innovative.
  3. If you’re struggling for questions, spur yourself on with question starters such as “What if…” or “Why does…” or “How can…” or “Where can…” or “When might…”
  4. Once you have a list, go back and decide which you’d like to explore. You may feel the whole list is helpful, or it may be that one or two stand out.
  5. Make a plan for how you’ll address your list. Some next steps might be:
    • free-write
    • brainstorm in mind-map form
    • create a collage
    • research via google
    • research via the library
    • research via an expert (friend, colleague, blogger, podcaster)

Sometimes the most important step in problem solving is simply starting. Once you’re in motion, it’s much easier to ask, “What’s the next step?”

Writerly Play offers a framework for creative thinking. In each mental room, we tackle different thinking tasks. This activity is a tool for your Attic, where we collect life experiences, sort them and crystallize them into a question or set of questions to guide our creative exploration.