Certain characteristics are markers of creative thinking. I've listed five.

Courage:
Creativity is a combination of yearning to know more to achieve peace of mind, and willing to say or do anything to achieve the thrill of making your own personal work. Courage is a necessity to express yourself without having fears that someone may communicate to you in a demeaning way.

Receptiveness: You won't be able to learn, and thus grow as a creative thinker if you shut yourself from others who express ways you can improve your personal work in an objective way.

Flexibility: This trait seems it's quite similar to receptiveness. Anyways, it is important to have an open mind on how to do things. Thus, when you have ideas, it would be helpful to either continue on working with your thoughts or consider some changes to them. This also includes not being stubborn with a concept that you like very much or one that you really want to work with. If someone thinks your ideas need to be altered, then you should consider do that base on further evaluation of everything involving the personal work. It is something I just experienced, which I will explain on the next paragraph.

I was working on an Alicia Keys' CD Box Set. I had strong desires to work on gender empowerment as the theme of my artwork for the box. My professor suggested I scrape my idea because it is a difficult topic to work on. He didn't explain why. Instead, he used circus as an example to get his point across. It's easy to come up with images that show what circuses consist of. As for gender empowerment, it is too abstract to come up with common images that are associated with it.

Being Sharp-eyed: Having a keen eye in all different sorts of atmospheres enables you to notice more possibilities to be creative. You may notice things that others didn't. Have you ever thought you have strong ability to persuade other people to continue working on concept(s) that they think is not worthy? You can do that if you are able to express your ideas.

Seeking and Recognizing Connections: If you know someone who has trouble with making connections between two unrelated or related things together, then you may sense that individual isn't creative. People with creativity are "able to arrange associative hierarchies in ways that"1 let them make links.


Ways That Stimulate Creative Thinking

Beyond enhancing personal creative characteristics are tools that aid creative thinking. Besides using these creativity techniques for concept generation, some designers and students use them as visualization and spontaneous compositional tool.

Brainstorming With a Group or By Yourself

The object of this technique is to generate ideas that could be solutions to advertising problems; the notion was that an uninhibited atmosphere would cultivate the flow of creative thinking. Traditional brainstorming is conducted with a group of people so that one contributor's thought builds on or ignites other person's thoughts. It may even work better when modified for individual use, since there is no holding back.

Make a Checklist

Individuals would use this technique to transform an existent idea or thing. It also can possibly be the only tool you ever need to foster creative thinking. This concept of checklist created by Alex Osborn, who was in advertising, includes "the following action verbs: adapt, modify, magnify, substitute, rearrange, and reverse."2

Mapping

It is a brainstorming and visual diagramming tool that is used to develop an idea or lead to an idea. It also can be used to visualize, structure, and classify ideas and as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, and decision making. The goal of mapping is to present ideas in an organized way. Any diagram would suffice as long it shows ways words, terms, images, or thoughts can be related to one another and arranged in a specific way. The central focal point is a key idea and it is linked to others. It's been said that mapping is an ancient visualizing techniques
dating as far back as ancient Greece.

You can approach mapping in two ways. Automatic mapping is working with the surrealist strategy of spontaneous free association, and just let all ideas flow freely to form associations. You don't try to control your choices. Deliberate mapping is pretty much the opposite where the ideas being processed make any connecting to any other ones.

Oral Presentation Tool

It is smart to share your ideas by talking to another person. It is based on two premises. First, talking may lead to more insights as you hear yourself. The second is that you will be organizing and articulating your thought when you are forced to explain the design problem to someone who is unfamiliar with it. If you must, recording self and playing back is acceptable to do.


Citations:

1,2 Landa, Robin. "Ch. 4: Creativity and the Graphic Design Process." Landa, Robin. "Graphics Design Solutions. 4th Edition." Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2010. 71.

References:

Landa, Robin. "Ch. 4: Creativity and the Graphic Design Process." Landa, Robin. Graphics Design Solutions. 4th Edition. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2010. 71.