How to Come Up with Creative Ideas: Ten Rhetorical Concepts that Will Make Your Ideas More Distinctive, Innovative, and Effective

Do you ever look at something someone has created–a new book, or a work of art, or even a new process at work–and say to yourself, “I wish I could come up with creative ideas like that”? We’ve all been there. But the reality is, creative people have something in common: they understand the discipline in which they are producing the idea, they do their homework, they pay attention to details, and they execute their ideas with dedication and precision.

Masterminds in business, art, and literature don’t just “create” something creative out of thin air. They follow a process.

I believe that their process is closely related to rhetoric, a theoretical perspective in human communication. Ancient philosophers taught that by practicing certain rhetorical devices, people could become better communicators, better public speakers, and more persuasive and influential people. The study of rhetoric, for these reasons, was considered one of the most sought after and important components to an education.

Today, we tend to prize creativity and ingenuity. The most creative types in any occupation are the ones who succeed. But if we pay attention to their ideas, the ideas can often be traced back to a mastery of these ten rhetorical concepts. If we want to be creative, maybe we can learn a thing or two from the ancient sophists.

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How to Come Up with Creative Ideas (infographic)