What does being creative mean to you?
When I think of creativity, I always think of my oldest son who is a junior in high school. (My other children are extremely creative, too -- but it presents a little differently.)
Starting when he was three or four, people would give him pictures to color.
I am a color inside the lines person. Some creative people dare to color outside of the lines.
My son would turn the paper over and draw his own picture.
He's working on a novel now and it's interesting to read because he's turning every assumption of the genre on its head.
One of the most important parts of being creative is setting aside your preconceptions about a topic. If you're writing in a particular genre, try to think about what the rules of that genre are and see to what extent you can bend or break them. This is challenging because you have to be careful about which rules you bend and break or you'll alienate your audience.
Another essential of creativity is being willing to make mistakes. When you try to do things people haven't done before -- there may be a good reason that no one's ever done it.
Brainstorming is another step in the creative process. Have some time where you jot down every idea that you think of. You can go through later and try to decide which of them is best to pursue.
Lastly, another way to encourage creativity is to attempt to avoid cliches. A cliche can be something like having a character saying, "That's the way the cookie crumbles". Typically, if it's a phrase you can think of having heard on television, stop a minute and think if you can come up with something better.
A cliche can be a cliche scene like a fight in a bar. If the action is important, put it somewhere where the reader won't expect it. I can't decide if a fight scene in a Church would be really funny or intensely frightening.
Another problem is a cliche character like a evil character with a scar who wears all black. If you find yourself using a cliche, make fun of it or mix it up so the reader isn't sure what to expect.
Patricia C. Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles is an excellent example of a book that defies the cliches of its genre.
What are your favorite cliche-busters?