I was looking through some old content and ran across a piece on creativity from nearly 14 years ago. This seemed like a good time to recycle it with some updates. People often say to me “You’re so creative! I wish I were creative.” The truth is we all are creative in different ways, and we can increase our creativity with practice. The article below provides seven ways you can boost your creativity.
Jump in Headfirst
I didn’t hesitated to get a cellphone years ago. However, I initially resisted getting a phone with text messaging capabilities. I didn’t see the point! Plus, trying to text on those little keypads was a pain. I eventually relented and now I would rather text most all communications.
Tapping into your creativity is not much different than trying something new – you must be willing to start and see what happens.
Below are seven tips to help you on your journey to being more creative.
When you get an idea, no matter how crazy it may seem. Write it down. Record it in a notes app on your phone. Type it into a document on your computer. Use whatever method you like best to get the idea out of your head. I have more ideas than I could act on in three lifetimes. But it doesn’t stop me from recording new ideas. You never know when a flash of insight will lead to a creative breakthrough.
One trait of highly creative people is that they are willing to explore ideas even if those ideas seem outlandish, so don't limit yourself to ideas that seem reasonable. Seemingly preposterous ideas actually boost creativity by giving our brains permission to continue to generate new ideas.
New experiences stimulate creativity. Visit new locations. Switch up the route on your commute. Shop at different stores. Even getting up and looking out the window can improve your creativity. Our brains are working behind the scenes all day and all night sorting and categorizing information. The more stimulation you receive the more creative you become. We know it is important for babies to engage with lots of sights and sounds for their brains to develop. Just because you are grown doesn’t mean your brain doesn’t still crave novelty.
Creative people tend to be readers. It doesn’t matter whether you like to read fiction, graphic novels, or the news. Reading widely broadens your knowledge base and, once again, gives your brain more material to work with. Your creative potential grows with each bit of knowledge you acquire.
Walking isn’t simply good exercise, it’s also good for generating ideas. Walking and creativity have a long history together. Charles Dickens and Ernest Hemingway both found walking helped their writing. I find walking clears my mind and rejuvenates my creativity. Now, if you don’t want to go for a walk, other forms of gentle exercise work just as well: think yoga, tai chi, or swimming.
I’ve written about the Pomodoro technique before and want to remind you that focusing for a 15- or 20-minute period generating ideas can increase your creativity. In fact, brainstorming works best when done for short periods of time. Much like writing down your ideas when they come to you, you want to capture every idea the comes to mind during a short, focused brainstorming session. It doesn’t matter how ludicrous the idea seems at the time. Give yourself permission to write it all down and sort it out later.
Finally, ask yourself questions when you encounter a problem. How would you fix it? How did it become a problem? Who would benefit from fixing the problem? This is an example of how creativity is expressed in ways that don’t look like creative pursuits. Willis Carrier decided it was too hot indoors during the summer and invented the air conditioner. I don’t know if he considered himself a creative person, but I think air conditioning is one of the best creative inventions of all time!
Each of you have unique experiences, knowledge, and skills that make your creative in your own way. You may not be a prize-winning artist or writer or musician, but you are still creative.
I hope these tips help you explore and expand your own creativity. Until next week . . .