Creativity can be as elusive as trying to capture lightning in one of those old-timey, miniscule apothecary bottles. As an author who literally makes stuff up for a living, it has most certainly eluded me a time or two million.
The problem is, most of us feel a drive to create…to leave small traces of ourselves in the world—a bit of proof that we do, in fact, exist. Often you’ll hear that creation is one of life’s sacred needs. Even if this doesn’t ring true for you, it’s not likely you’ll be able to avoid creating altogether. In this world driven by content—even if you’re not in an industry that is typically considered creative—being original and coming up with out of the box ideas is imperative. You’ll find a greater sense of ownership in your projects, and gain the added benefit of impressing your boss or clients.
There are a lot of ways to rattle up those creative juices, and you might find you’ll add a little adventure to your life while you’re at it.
1. Try Different Things
We live in a fast-paced world—one where it’s way too easy to fall into that trap of just getting stuff done. We have our routines and schedules and don’t often stop to think a whole lot about trying different or new things. Take a moment to think about it… when was the last time you did something truly different? This doesn’t have to be scary or difficult, and you’ll find that if you start small, it just might become an adventurous habit.
What if you:
- Sampled a new food
- Tested out a new sport or activity like paddle boarding, rock climbing, or an aerial yoga class
- Joined a team volleyball, floor hockey, or even lawn bowling (bonus points for meeting new people too!)
- Mixed things up everyday—try on a new genre of music, or travel a new route to work, or even simply watch a video on a topic you’ve always wanted to know more about
2. Go Where Other Interesting and Creative People Are
Combining ideas in new ways is one of the cornerstones of creativity. Existing art and concepts are perfect places for incubating and sparking something new. You could come up with a new angle or twist or maybe your area of expertise fused with something you’ve never seen could birth something incredible. I’m certainly not talking about copying anyone else, but inspiration breeds innovation.
Try the following:
- Attend the theatre (live or on screen)
- Frequent museums and galleries
- Support a local artist at an opening or book signing
- Drop in at an open mic night to see how others are experimenting
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” — Steve Jobs
3. Save Your Ideas
I’d bet that you’re more creative than you think. It’s just that interesting ideas sometimes take a stroll through our minds then decide to take an extended leave of absence. But not to worry. Most of us already have a “notebook” with us at all times in the notes app in our smartphones—I have so many notes in mine, I have to create folders to keep them all sorted.
Other tricks to try:
- Keep track of your dreams – start writing the moment you wake up or they’ll float away like a whispery fog
- If you’re anything like me, ideas will often appear like magic while you’re in the shower. Keep your phone—and a towel!—nearby
- Record ideas that pop by when you’re watching TV, movies or reading books—these are potential jumping off points for something new
- Journal! I find that when I make a point to just get started…ideas will start to appear. Or maybe they were there all along and I just didn’t recognize them
4. Give Yourself Room
When our minds are busy with the day to day grind, it tends to be a lot more difficult to come up with creative thoughts and new ideas. If you struggle with a flow of creativity, maybe it’s because stress can often get in the way.
A few things you could try:
- If you have one of those minds that whirrs as you try to fall asleep, try to calm it by jotting down all those things you forgot about today or are afraid to miss tomorrow. Once the task is saved, it should be a lot easier to let it rest. Again, simply add a reminder or task on your phone
- I’m sure you’ve heard it before (hello konmari method), but clearing your work areas and living space can definitely help optimize your time and energy. Organized spaces = organized mind (for most of us). If nothing else, a beautiful space can help form beautiful ideas
- Ponder (or perhaps meditate), but don’t ruminate. What’s the difference? Positivity vs. negativity. When I “ponder”, it’s a lot more like daydreaming than it is letting negative thoughts whirl around in there. Think about the amazing things this world has to offer – all the beautiful art, nature, food, people, places, and amazing ideas. Keep lists of things that you find exciting, fun, interesting, hopeful, peaceful, and reassuring.
5. Let Go of Fear
My biggest crusher of creativity is the comparison game. We are all on our own journeys—let yourself have the unique, quirky, frustrating, and gorgeous one only you can create. Experiment. Try. Fail. What if it all just didn’t matter so much? When I’m feeling overwhelmed and fearful, I try to take a step back and ask myself just that—what if it didn’t matter so much? And you know what I usually find? It actually doesn’t matter as much as I’m making it out to in my head.
Make failure a priority – without mistakes, there is no learning or progress. Start giving failure the credit it deserves. Challenge yourself—especially when things get hard
Some think creativity is meant for artists and inventors, but it’s surprising how much creativity day-to-day work and living require. Scheduling, problem solving, and even cooking are all creative endeavors. If we’re not creating, we’re stagnant. Creativity is essential for all of us.
Even if you’re not specifically looking to “be more creative”, I can guarantee at the very least, trying out some of these tactics will make you a much more interesting person. And you might be surprised once you start looking, just how much creativity actually flows through you.