“You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”
In this quote, author Jodi Picoult provides an incredibly relatable example that summarizes the creative process: creativity will always ebb and flow, so on bad days taking small steps to hone your creativity is far better than doing nothing at all.
Like that blank piece of paper looming in front of a frustrated author, finding inspiration and getting started can be the hardest and most intimidating part of any project. Below, we’ve highlighted ten of our favorite ways to boost creativity - even if you just try one, you’ll be on your way to a more innovative future!
“Flow” has been used to describe the fluid creative state that artists experience when deeply immersed in their craft and time slips away. Arriving to your place of flow can be ultra helpful in the creative process, but getting there can be tricky.
To do so, identify and utilize sources of personal motivation, while also taking time to understand and avoid factors that lead to procrastination.
Over time, you’ll learn what environments, schedules, strategies and tools work best for your creative style, so take note and do your best to include what is helpful and block out that which distracts you.
It’s easy to get stuck inside your own head when wading through a creative rut, so try taking a metaphorical step outside your own mental wasteland and put on a different “Thinking Hat,” so to speak, to view your problems from a new perspective.
Though not as magical as the talking Sorting Hat in Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School that proclaimed each student a member of one of four ancient wizarding houses, using these Six Thinking Hat Techniques can certainly reveal new thoughts and feelings relevant to any problem.
Establishing psychological distance between yourself and an issue can allow you to view your world in new and enlightening ways.
Sometimes all it takes to replenish our creative juices is a brief return to Mother Nature with a blissfully simple and brisk walk outside. Experiences in nature have a direct correlation to increased creative output and, luckily for us, reaping the benefits is as simple as walking out the front door.
Viewing and being in nature relaxes the mind and body, lowers cortisol levels, wakes up the creative centers of the brain, and a 20-minute dose of sunshine significantly boosts your Vitamin D levels among many other healing things. Plus, the numerous benefits of exercise on overall well-being and mental performance are widely documented, so a walk outside could be the powerful combo you need to get in your creative zone.
It would be wonderful if our best ideas always struck when we were conveniently seated at our desks in our offices, wide awake after a cup of coffee and ready to take action, but that doesn’t always happen.
In fact, it’s hard to ever know when your next brilliant idea will take shape - which is all the more reason to be at the ready any place and any time to jot down an idea, thought, or doodle, no matter how small.
Depending on your style, carry around a notebook and fill it with anything that pops into your head throughout the day, even when waking up from dreams. If pen and paper isn’t your thing, create a page on your smartphone and type in it throughout the day, or try one of these note-taking apps to keep track of your daily musings.
If you’re putting pressure on yourself to conjure up one wonderful idea after the next, you’ll burn out from the stress and the quality of your brainstorming will drop. Sure, you might be trying to stick to a deadline, and maintaining a creative schedule can actually be helpful to keep you on track, but taking time to unplug, relax and relieve the tension is an important step in the process.
Before, after and even during a lengthy personal brainstorming session, first take at least a half hour to decompress and do something that you truly enjoy like reading an inspiring book, an outside activity, sipping coffee on your porch, playing with kids or pets, and so on. Or completely power down for a bit with a power nap or a 15-minute meditation session.
Thanks to numerous scientific studies, we now know that the brain reacts positively to certain melodies and frequencies, especially Classical music like that produced by Mozart and Beethoven.
Try turning on a Classical music station on Pandora the next time you’re aiming for some creative thinking and see what happens.
Ever made a collage from magazine pictures, articles and ads?
Well, Pinterest is a lot like that except it’s a social media site that lives only a click away on the Internet. Regardless of whether you’re searching for a specific topic or just browsing a range of pins - webpages that other pinners have saved to their Pinterest vision boards - we bet you’ll be inspired by something in no time at all.
Even better - follow other pinners on Pinterest with similar tastes and interests for even more targeted inspiration on a daily basis. One word of caution: we recommend setting a time limit to browse your Pinterest feed, as it is easy to lose track of time while scrolling through all those pretty pins!
Yep, you read that right. We’re not saying that you should partake in late night barroom binges every evening in the name of creativity, but studies have shown that a drink or two can stimulate your creative mechanisms by lowering inhibitions and depressing stress responses.
You might be more likely to daydream and think outside the box while slightly inebriated, so make sure you have an idea notebook handy like we mentioned in number 4 above!
Be bold and travel to a new country, or play it a little safer and try a new recipe at home. At either end of the novelty spectrum, doing something completely new will likely awaken your creative self in ways other things can’t.
Stepping outside of your comfort zone gives you an utterly new way of looking at a certain part of the world, no matter how small or large, which can open creative doors you never saw coming.
Depending on your location, accessing a coffee shop might not be as easy as walking down the street, but if you can make it to one near you, you might reap some creative benefits.
This study found that people are more creative with background noise because they had to focus just a little harder on what they were doing. Now, these conditions aren’t optimal for us all, but it’s worth a shot. Plus, the people watching at a coffee shop alone could inspire your next great invention or short story! And the caffeine in your coffee doesn’t hurt, either.
The next time you feel like your fountain of great ideas has run dry, try one or more of these tactics to boost your creativity and let us know what happens.
Share other ways you’ve been able to improve your creative flow in the comments below!
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