(CC photo: Taxi For Gable )
There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns. -Edward de Bono
For any problem you tackle, at some point you need to tap into your inner creativity and come up with a solution. Sometimes, you need to come up with multiple solutions. At this point, it would be really nice to be able to focus and hone in on your creativity.
Perhaps, you also want to explore a creative outlet but can’t seem to find your inspiration. You’re taking up writing, or painting, or acting, but you’re afraid you won’t be able to figure out how to be creative. Maybe you have writer’s block, or are just running out of ideas.
Sometimes when we’re trying to be creative, we hit a brick wall. The idea is just on the other side, but banging our heads against the wall doesn’t seem to help. Sometimes, we need a hammer to break that wall. I can’t just give you a hammer, though I wish I could. Instead, I’m going to help you craft your own.
1) COMMIT TO BOOSTING YOUR CREATIVITY
I can’t help you if you’re not willing to help yourself. The first step to accomplishing any goal is to commit. Boosting your creativity is no different. Choose to do it, and believe you can. Repeat it to yourself multiple times a day if that’s what it takes. With a focused commitment, it’s just a matter of going through the motions before you succeed.
2) STUDY EXISTING WORK
This doesn’t sound very creative, but it’s at the very essence of creativity. By knowing and understanding what currently exists, and how it was done, you are becoming an expert. Once you are an expert, the freedom that creates for self-expression is unrivalled. Knowing all the tools at your disposal will be invaluable.
3) MAKE TIME FOR CREATIVITY
Seems obvious, and this is somewhat along the same lines as committing to boosting your creativity, but, I’ll say it anyway. Make time every day to be creative. Practice does make perfect. You are trying to use parts of yourself that may be dormant, but they are there. The more you access them, the more familiar your brain becomes with the process, and the easier it will be.
4) BE WILLING TO TAKE RISKS
With any unique solution, there is a chance of failure. If you’re anticipating failure, and unwilling to take risks, you are subverting your attempts at creativity. Subconsciously you are working against yourself. Stop it. Failure is an option, but then you keep coming up different solutions until you succeed in spectacular fashion.
The secret of life…is to fall seven times and to get up
eight times. -Paulo Coelho, from The Alchemist
5) IF YOU’RE WORRIED YOU MIGHT FAIL, DO IT ANYWAY
Do not hinder your creative process by trying to predict failure. Do not censor yourself. Let the creative juices flow. One thing leads to another, and without censoring you are letting yourself hone in on all the possible solutions. One of them will work.
An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail. -Edwin Land
6) CLEAR YOUR MIND
You can’t possibly be creative if you’re thinking about what you have to make for dinner later, or how you forgot to pay a bill yesterday, or that your should really call your mother. You need to clear your mind and focus on the task at hand. Be in the moment. Tap into your impulses and inspirations. That involves living completely here and now. Read up on meditation, and start your creative process by taking a few minutes to clear your head of debris.
Clarity of painting comes from clarity of vision. A painter has to
be emotionally right out there and present, both to perceive
and to express. -Kate Palmer
7) CARRY A NOTEPAD
This is essential for anyone trying to find creative solutions, or trying to find ideas and inspirations for their next big creative project (painting, writing, whatever). Buy a small one that you can take everywhere with you. Write down everything that comes to you throughout the day. Once you get in touch with your creative side, ideas can come at any moment. Try and make a note of what time you have your idea (I’ll explain why in a later tip). Don’t lose your valuable ideas! Carry a notepad!
8) BRAINSTORM NEW IDEAS EVERY DAY
Perhaps ideas aren’t coming to you throughout the day. That’s fine. Sit down and brainstorm. Give yourself time to do this. Don’t expect something to just pour out in the first 10 seconds if it’s your first time. Give it the focus it deserves. Never, under any circumstances, censor yourself. Ever. After you’ve come up with some ideas, reward yourself before you even think about evaluating the ideas.
9) JOURNAL WRITING
Write every day. Write about your day including your thoughts, feelings, wishes, and dreams. Keep track of your progress in creating. Commend your efforts and accomplishments. Brainstorm new ideas, and censor nothing. Over time, your writing will become better, and you will start to become creative in your journal. Once you tap into your creative side, it will become easier to transfer it out into everything you do.
10) DISCUSS YOUR IDEAS
When you discuss your ideas with others, you immediately access that other person’s creativity and together you might come up with solutions you never anticipated. Also, simply the act of explaining your idea to someone else can access your creative mind, which in turn creates new ideas.
11) SEEK OUT INSPIRATION
Don’t wait for inspiration to suddenly dawn on you. Actively seek it out. Read books. Go to museums and art galleries. Listen to great music. Engage in debates with friends. Find a strategy that works for you, and continually do it.
12) SEEK OUT NEW EXPERIENCES
You’re looking for new ideas? Well, try to get some new experiences under your belt that might inspire you. If you’re in a rut, do something you’ve never done before. Go out of your comfort zone. New experiences can sometimes reshape our perceptions, and sometimes that’s all we need.
Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the
secret of great creative people. -Leo Burnett
13) BE A CHILD
Play! It sounds silly, but children are fully in touch with their creative engines. They don’t filter. They don’t judge. We teach them that later (sadly). Children walk around completely in touch with their impulses and act upon them. While this isn’t necessarily what we want in every day society, it is an essential part of being creative. Learn what it’s like to live that way again. Be a kid! Taking an acting class is an excellent way to get in touch with your creative impulses. I highly recommend it, though watch out for bad classes that are a waste of money.
14) FIND YOUR CREATIVE PEAK
Some people find they are more creative in the morning. For others, the evening works best. Make an effort to find out what time works best for you. If you’re using your notepad, you’ll have written when you get your best ideas. Schedule your day so that when you need to be creative, you’re already “in the zone.” And remember to leave some time for clearing your head, first.
15) CREATE YOUR CREATIVITY ZONE
Create a zone of inspiration. Place in it the books, art work, music and other objects that inspire you. Make it comfortable, with space to easily write ideas. A whiteboard is nice to have, but a notepad is enough. Try and make it in a space with limited distractions, so you can focus your mind and engage in the creative task-at-hand.
When I started acting, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to tap into my creative engine to the degree required for such an art-form. Much to my surprise, I found creativity to be a skill that can be honed and practiced. Over time, I found ideas popping into my head at all times of day. Being creative for acting became easier, but moreover, it became easier for everything else too!
Don’t be discouraged and think, “I’m just not a creative person.” Your creativity is there, you just need to access it and help it grow!
The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself. -Alan Alda