Some great tips here from Martina McGowan on stimulating creativity inside yourself. Read her post “7 Tips for Setting Yourself on Fire, Creatively“. Or, I’ve used her seven tips below as a springboard to my own interpretation.
Too often, people can’t think creatively because they get stuck. They get stuck because they can’t get started. Because they get centred on one (not-so-good) idea and it plugs up the pipeline to other better ideas .Because they don’t like the ideas they’re generating so they simply give up in frustration. (See Ira Glass’ quote.)
One way to reignite your creativity is to write. No filters. No censures. No editing. Just write. McGowen suggests writing down 100 ideas. That’s fine. Or, you can just write without an end goal. Among the seven ideas listed here, I use this tactic most often when I get blocked creatively. I open a Word document and I start typing. Yes, virtually all of the writing (in the beginning) is rubbish. But, the more I keep going, pushing through the block, I can start to uncover new creative territory.
People tend to rely most heavily on reading and seeing as the senses to bring information into the mind. Another way to reignite your creative streak is to be more active in using the other senses, such as taste (try new foods, restaurants, different twists on old favourites), sound (listen to new music, attend the theatre, walk home instead of taking the train), and touch (get a massage, experience a different part of town). I often discover new insights when I mix up my sensory experiences from the same-old, same-old – especially by engaging multiple senses at the same time.
This might sound a bit Oprah-esque, but then again, McGowen’s writing is often spiritually based. However, there’s no denying that positivity in any form can be inspiring, whether it’s catching up with mentors, watching uplifting movies or TV, or reading about motivational people and events. It’s hard not to feel creative when you surround yourself with creative people, events and endeavours.
In short, get out. Reacquaint yourself with the Big Outdoors. Yes, a big forest would be great, but that little green space down the street is just as effective. Leave the iPod behind. Get away from the talkers. Minimise disruptive sounds. There are more than enough good ideas in your head, but it’s often difficult to realise they’re there when you’re not being sensitive to them. By changing your environment (excuse the pun), you can also reignite your creativity.
I’ve read elsewhere that Yellow is the colour of creativity. Hmm, personally it’s not my colour. But I can absolutely attest that colour – any colour – is good for the brain. Processes, words and rules are the domain of the Left Brain. Colour – and images and patterns – live in the Right Brain. Using more colour – in pens, paper, anything surrounding you – increases how much both left and right sides of the brain light up, and that can’t help but reignite your creative spark.
Perhaps a better title is “network.” Consider the cliche, Two heads are better than one. The image of the lone inventor hatching a spectacular idea by themselves is best left to fairy tales. Tapping into the brainpower of other people – especially ones working in areas different than your own – is one of the best ways to multiply your creative output. An old mentor once told me that I should catch-up with at least one former work colleague every week. I caught up with three on Tuesday alone, and I came away with a flood of new ideas (and perhaps a headache from too much coffee).
There are times for intensive thinking, but equally there are times when you need to get away from your work to allow your mind to refresh itself. The brain is a non-stop problem-solving tool, but even the greatest machines needs a chance to cool down. Do something lazy. Try a different creative challenge, like a crossword. Go for a walk or to the gym. Physical effort of any kind helps to release endorphins into the blood stream, so it’s very likely you’ll feel refreshed – if not creative – after some simple exercise.