Many experts say that creativity is not necessarily something you have or don’t have, but that can be nurtured and developed. If you are searching for ways to feed your creativity, then take a look at these online tools. From tools that help you organize, plan, and brainstorm to tools that inspire through writing prompts and creative photos to tools that work to develop the creative mind, you will find plenty of inspiration in this list.
Brainstorming and Mind Maps
Sometimes getting good ideas is just a matter of finding them lurking just beyond your current thoughts. Use these tools to seek out ideas and get them organized so they are working for you.
- Idea Lottery. Scroll down and plug in "elements" of your challenge, then see what ideas are generated from which you can start brainstorming creative ways to complete your challenge.
- Jump Start. Working similarly to the Idea Lottery (and provided by the same people), enter a "How can I?" question, then get a list of adjectives that can help start the brainstorming process.
- Google Sets. Generate a list based on your keyword and choose from a short list of 15 or less words and a long list.
- Kayuda. Record and organize your thoughts with Kayuda.
- FreeMind. This mind-mapping tool can help organize your research or help you brainstorm.
- WiseMapping. Create mind maps with this free tool that also allows sharing if you are collaborating with others.
- yWriter5. Writers or anyone working on large written projects can organize large sections of their work with this tool.
- bubble.us. This tool creates bubbles to connect your ideas in order to help you with brainstorming.
- Mindomo. Use this mind mapping tool to organize your thoughts and start your project with a clear plan.
- VUE. Designed specifically for those in teaching and research, this tool helps keep your work and thoughts organized.
- View Your Mind. Create and edit mind maps with this tool that helps you see your thoughts.
- Cmap Tools. Another tool specifically for research, this one helps create concept maps.
- Mapul. This tool helps you easily create organic-looking mind maps to organize your thoughts boost creativity.
- Gliffy. Create flowcharts to help organize your ideas as well as map out the steps to complete your projects.
Organization and Productivity
Staying organized and increasing your productivity gives you more time for being creative. These tools will feed your creativity by making life easier.
- 43 Things. Publish your lists to this community to keep yourself accountable and browse through other’s lists to find creative ideas.
- Ta-da Lists. This simple online to-do list is easy to use and a great way to record ideas as well as tasks.
- Toodledo. Keep a to-do list here where you can also take advantage of such features as setting priorities, analyzing dates, and creating time estimates for scheduling.
- bitBomb. This tool allows you to set up reminders in a calendar format that come to your mobile phone as text messages so you will never forget to do something again.
- Stickies. Jot down your creative thoughts or post reminders for yourself with these virtual sticky notes on your computer that can be iconified when you don’t need them.
- Thinkature. Use this tool to organize your thoughts and research or collaborate with others as you prepare your project.
- ProBoards. Easily create an online discussion board to facilitate collaboration and group brainstorming sessions.
- ThinkFold. Create interactive, real-time outlines for collaborative groups with this tool that makes working together a breeze.
- 30 Boxes. Stay organized with this online calendar that features a simple design and is easy to use.
- Jotlet. Another online calendar, this one allows you to share with friends, family, or coworkers.
- TreePad Lite. A great way to stay organized, this personal database provides a place for you to keep notes, emails, texts, links, and more in a simple format.
Note-Taking and Journaling
Whether you want to put your notes down before you forget them, you journal your thoughts in notebooks, or you need a place to write down all the elements of your project, the following tools will ensure you have everything together and accessible.
- Evernote. No matter where your inspiration comes from, use this tool to take a photo with your phone, type in text, or clip information from the Internet so you never lose a creative thought again.
- Google Notebook. Use Google search capabilities, Google Bookmarks, a rich-text editor, labels, and more in this tool that will help to keep your notes or journal your thoughts.
- Zoho Notebook. Use this tool to integrate audio, video, html, URLs, files, and much more into your notes.
- UberNote. Email or IM notes and bookmarks with this tool that also works with your mobile phone.
- Tinderbox. Store and organize your notes with this tool, which also allow you to post notes to your blog.
- Qipit. Take a photo of any document with your phone, then use this tool to convert it to a PDF file.
- Jott. Use Jott for the ultimate in voice message note-taking. Call to leave yourself a note or add an appointment to your calendar.
- WebAsyst Notes. Create notes, organize them in folders, and share with others with this tool.
- Luminotes. This note-taking tool allows you to create notes, link them together, and stay organized in an easy-to-use format.
- Notefish. As you run across inspiration on the Internet, save content on Notefish notes, which can be organized and shared.
- Wridea. Write down your creative ideas, then edit, categorize, and share them.
- FruitNotes. Call from your phone and leaving voice notes, uploading photos and videos, and share your ideas online with others with this tool.
- Net Notes. For Firefox users, this add-on allows you to save notes about websites into your bookmarks.
- Writeboard. Create online text documents with this tool that allows you to share your content if you are collaborating with others.
- Springnote. This tool allows you to take notes on your own or work with others to create a collaborative notebook for group projects.
Color Palette Creation
If you are inspired by color or work with color, these tools will help you find new and creative ways to use colors together.
- COLOURlovers. Not only can you compare color palettes, but find out about color trends, read color articles, and more.
- The Browser-Safe Web Palette. Use these tools to create colors that will look great no matter which browser your readers are using.
- kuler. This tool is versatile and fun. Find colors by images, emotions, colors you select, or by browsing popular combinations.
- Color Palette Generator. Enter the URL for any website to get the colors used in it.
- Colorcombos. Get the latest color combinations, search the archives, or select random combinations to find colors to fit any need.
Use these tools to make the most creative images you can, then share them with the world.
- Gimp. If you can’t afford Photoshop, try this tool that includes layers, channels, paths, and plenty of painting tools.
- Picnik. This powerhouse of a photo editing tool lets you get creative and is totally free.
- Splashup. Modeled after Photoshop, this free tool allows you to edit and manage your photos.
- Picasa. Organize, edit, and share your photos online with this super easy and versatile photo editor.
- Flickr. Edit photos and share with others or browse through the amazing number of photos available for anyone to enjoy.
- Flash Slide Show Maker. Create Flash slide shows quickly and easily with this free software.
If you like looking at photos for inspiration, then check out these places on the Internet that will stimulate your creativity.
- Smugmug. This site has some absolutely gorgeous photos that are well worth browsing for help finding your creativity.
- elements. Click on the Explore button to generate inspirational photos. Sign up for free to rate, follow, and see favorites.
- SXC. Find free stock photographs at this site that can either serve as inspiration or you can incorporate into your creative endeavors.
- morgueFile. These stock photographs are free to use and free to browse through for great ideas.
- One Photo a Day. Get a new photo every day on this site, or browse through the past days to see inspirational photos.
- 365 Pictures Prompts. Visit this site each day for a new photo contributed from independent photographers to feed your creativity.
- The Photographer’s Life. Enter contests or just browse through the inspirational photos here. Be sure to visit the Hall of Fame for some of the best.
- Every Photo Tells a Story. Check out the images posted here every day for a wide range of photos and pictures.
- Fotosearch. While these photos aren’t free to use, there are plenty to browse through for inspiration or ideas for your own creations.
Story Builders and Writing Prompts
Sitting in front of a blank page is not very creative. If you find yourself there, use these prompts to get your creativity flowing.
- Imagination Prompt Generator. Spend some time writing with each of these prompts (they recommend 10 minutes). Feel free to use several or skip to one that inspires you.
- Big Huge Thesaurus. Look up synonyms, antonyms, and rhymes, then get blog post ideas and story plot ideas at this site.
- Visual Thesaurus. Look up a word and get synonyms mapped out for you. This is a great way to explore words with varying connotations or to become inspired by related words.
- Creative Writing Prompts. Get over 300 writing prompts that range from writing about physical objects to specific memories to creating a poem with a group of random words.
- Writer’s Digest - Writing Prompts. With pages and pages of writing prompts available here, you won’t run out of great triggers to get your creative writing going.
- WritingFix: The Daily Prompt Generator. This interactive writing prompt generator offers almost 550 questions to jumpstart your writing.
- McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Thirteen Writing Prompts. These writing prompts range from scenarios set up for you to ending sentences of a short story.
- Writing Prompts. Click the button to get a random selection of writing prompts here.
- About.com Creative Writing Prompts. This page lists several links to ideas and writing prompt generators.
- Writing Prompt Generator. Select from one of the three buttons to have prompts generated that are sure to spark your creativity.
- Portrait of Words: Writing Challenge Photo Prompts. Each month, writers are invited to view a set of photographs and are challenged to create a story around them.
Finding What’s Popular on the Internet
Sometimes creativity is born from what is new and popular in the world around you. Check out these tools that will help you discover what everyone is talking about online.
- StumbleUpon. Sign up and indicate your interests, then when you hit the StumbleUpon button, you can discover all sorts of cool websites and other sources of inspiration tailored to your preferences.
- Delicious. This popular site lets you see what is popular with others as well as bookmark those items that catch your interest.
- Reddit. Users vote on sites that go up and down in popularity. Find out what is coming or going out of style here.
- Digg. Not only can you see how users are voting on items here, but you can also read comments about them.
Various Creativity Triggers
From checking out inspirational websites to creativity exercises to coming up with fun slogans, these tools will help trigger your creativity when it’s waning.
- Creativity Portal. Find ideas for arts and crafts, creative living, writing, and prompts–or if all else fails, get creativity coaching.
- EyeWire Creativity Cards. Print out these cards and use them to spark your creativity when you are feeling less inspired.
- Favorite Website Awards. The websites showcased here are sure to offer inspiration and appreciation for other’s creativity.
- An Exercise. Try out this exercise from the book, The Creative Brain, that gets your imagination and creativity flowing.
- Learn to be MORE Creative NOW!. Get exercises to start the creative process as well as four lessons at this website.
- Creativity Pool. Add ideas for inventions that should be made or search for ideas that others have contributed here.
- CREAX. Use this amazing website as a tool to spark your creativity with its links to 841 websites handpicked by the CREAX team and thought to be the best in creativity and innovation.
- Creative Aerobics. Select online activities from this list that will help you explore topics or concepts, break mindsets, find alternate problem-solving techniques, and much more.
- Web Lab. Check out the projects going on at this site that all share a goal of bringing new perspectives to important social issues.
- Mindstreaming. This community shares ideas on how to bring about world peace. Find some creative ideas here that may spark your own creativity.
- Instructables. This website is full of fun projects you can create yourself. Browse through these projects to get your creative juices flowing.
- Sketchcast. Create your own sketches you can share or spend some time looking at sketches drawn and posted by others.
- Sloganizer. Use this tool to create slogans based on keywords or use the slogans generated as a trigger for brainstorming your own.
- Good Things Should Never End. The fun, interactive graphics on this website are meant solely for entertainment purposes and will likely feed your creativity as you play along the way.
There’s one surefire way to make sure you keep your brain working in top shape and help keep it working creatively, and that’s by keeping it stimulated every day. Play some of these online puzzles and games that are just right for feeding the creative brain.
- Thinks.com Jigsaw Puzzles. Get a great selection of jigsaw puzzles you can solve online.
- LA Times Daily Crossword. Play the daily puzzle or archived puzzles and select from one of two solving modes–one highlights wrong answers and the other doesn’t.
- Classic New York Times Crossword Puzzle. You can play one of these notoriously difficult puzzles every day for free or pay for a membership to have access to more options.
- WebCrosswords.com. Using a format similar to the LA Times puzzles, these puzzles provide even more crossword fun.
- Online Sudoku. Get your Sudoku fix online with this game that allows you to choose difficulty, save, reload, get hints, and check how you are doing.
- Free Online Word Search Puzzles. Solve word search puzzles from one of several categories.
- Logic Puzzles. Solve these free timed, logic puzzles that provide an easy-to-use solving grid.
- word games. Choose from one of eight different types of word games including Cryptoquote, Storyman, and Codeword that are sure to keep your brain in shape.
- The Letterbox Game. This game requires you make as many three and four-letter words as possible and is a great way to start thinking outside the box.
- Tetris. This classic game will help with quick, logical thinking and is just really fun.
- Free Online Mahjong Games. Find an enormous number of mahjong games here ranging from games for the casual player to the Mahjong master.