Believe it or not, no matter how many times you felt that you weren't creative, we're actually all born creative people. To validate that, all it takes is a simple glance at children – you'll never find a child who isn't creative! The only difference is what happens as we transition into adulthood – do we continue into that natural, free play, or do we not?
Not everyone takes their creative spark along with them into their adult lives, but is that the end of it, or can you reclaim your creativity? You certainly can get your creative spigot fully flowing, and here are the top 5 ways to be more creative.
1. Embrace Boredom
When you're bored, what do you do? Our go-to is usually any type of electronic device in our day and age – be that our laptop, tablets, or smartphones. From Instagram and Facebook to TikTok and Clash of Clans, there's a planet's worth of things to do on the internet.
It’s either that or we go out to socialise. But how often do you engage in any activity that requires imagination, or even embrace that boredom and just sit there doing nothing?
Did you know that detoxing from all electronic devices can be the very first step towards being more creative? When you're bored, you're triggered into deep thinking, which can also lead to creativity. For instance, how often do you daydream when you're bored? Probably a lot. Well, daydreaming is also a form of creativity.
So, with that being said, next time you feel bored, let your mind wander. Don't rush to get hold of your smartphone or head to a social media feed. You never know – tapping into your subconscious may be the start of your "aha moment" or a cycle of endless ones!
In reality, creativity is all about training your imagination and letting it flow into your day-to-day life. Accordingly, instead of devoting your mental energy to routine actions and information overload, get into the habit of daydreaming, dreaming, and imagining. Even better, aside time for creative thinking if you can just like you do to watch a movie, for example!
2. Break the Cycle
"If you want something you've never had, you must be willing to do something you've never done." That's what Thomas Jefferson once said, and it perfectly applies in the context of creativity. So when you want to get creative, don't resort to what you usually do and expect the creativity to come to you magically; instead, do something different to break the cycle.
For example, if you usually just wake up, work, eat, and then go to bed, you’ll need to squeeze in a new activity in your day to really start getting creative, like cooking a meal, doing laundry, running some errands, going grocery shopping, or other similar activities. How does that work, though? By literally putting your mind to rest.
When you try too hard to be creative, it just won't happen. But when you engage yourself in something that's so "habitual," like the tasks mentioned above, and then go back to trying to be creative, you've sort of reset your brain in a way and given it a break. So when it's time to be creative again, you'll do so with a fresh mind.
After all, like anything else in the world, your brain needs to be charged to function at its optimum levels, too!
And by that very same token, it’s always worth a shot to also change the people around you. To put things into perspective, if your job involves creativity or you’re in a creative industry, chances are, you probably brainstorm with the same group of people every time.
Well, when you have a creative block, you’ll need to change how your brainstorming process works, and that includes the people. So, instead of brainstorming with the standard group you gather with, try brainstorming with people from classic creative industries and those who make a living off of creativity, like musicians, actors, artists, comedians, and similar.
You could even invite these creative people over and have them speak to you and your brainstorming group to inspire you by sharing their creative process. Most times, you'll end up with either inspiration, some tried and tested techniques you could put to practice, or both!
Sometimes, overcoming creative blocks really just takes breaking your creative routine!
3. Take a Walk
Yes, it’s that simple. When you’re in dire need to be creative, getting physical works wonders. And by getting physical, it doesn’t have to be working out until you sweat at the gym – it can be as simple as walking around the block.
When you're sitting around in the same spot for too long, it's quite challenging for creativity to kick in. But when you get moving and start walking, the blood gets flowing, and your brain starts getting active once again, giving a solid kickstart to your creative process.
Therefore, what you need to remember is that creativity doesn’t come with a click of a button. You actually need to pave the way for it by deliberately putting yourself in a state of creativity, and that’s the purpose that a walk serves. When you allow your brain to do what it does best and give it the space to do so, you’ll see the magic happening!
Also, if you're the type of person who likes to take a walk with their headphones on or with music in their ears, do that! For many people, music puts them in a tranquil state of mind similar to that of the music creators. So if that helps, unleash your creativity through music!
4. Create Your Own “Three Ifs”
Do you want a solid recipe for innovation? It has to be asking "clever" questions. Most times, creativity isn't about creating something that doesn't exist or introducing an idea for the first time ever – actually, usually, it's about making an existing thing better, be that an idea, service, product, or anything for that matter.
For instance, if you think about the iPhone, it's not that mobile phones didn't exist before Steve Jobs, right? It's just that he made mobile phones way better than they originally were, which is why it's always a good idea to start thinking about how to make an existing idea better to make it stand out from the crowd.
The three ifs that would lead you to the answer would be:
- What would happen if you change the idea/product/service/system/other?
- What would you change about the idea/product/service/system/other if you wanted it to continue to be viable and sustainable for 10 years?
- What would you do to improve the idea/product/service/system/other if you received a $1 million investment for that purpose?
You’ll be surprised by how just three questions can provide you with a roadmap that guides your creative process and empowers you to think differently and creatively. Many ideas will pop up using this formula, so try it out!
5. Practice Positive Self-Talk for Success
There's no denying that it can be highly demotivating when those "barriers to inspiration" suddenly happen out of the blue, especially when they last for more than just a couple of hours. When you're unable to access your internal creativity, it's not hard to lose confidence in your abilities.
That's even more so if you happen to be a perfectionist who doesn't feel like anything is ever good enough (even when you don't have a creative block), so when it happens, it's like your world is falling apart. In that case, you need to replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk if you're planning to overcome your block.
Instead of focusing on how you can't manage to be productive and come up with any ideas, reflect on the past! Remember how many times you were productive and believe that you can. As Theodore Roosevelt said, "believe you can, and you're halfway there!"
Even if, at the moment, all you have is a super preliminary idea, consider it a rough draft that you'll build on instead of believing that this is the maximum you'll reach. When you reduce self-doubt to the minimum, that's when you actually start being productive and creative again.
While this may be easier said than done, it's all a matter of practice. Train yourself to acknowledge your talents, and eventually, you'll be more constructive towards yourself and accept that it's fine not to have everything sorted out from the very beginning.
Creativity Knows No Bounds!
At the end of the day, it's not realistic to expect to be creative all the time. Your creative energy just needs to be harnessed every now and then, but it really has no limits once you do that. It's not a tank that can get empty; instead, it's like a muscle you strengthen by practicing being creative as much as you can.
But on that note, that also doesn't mean you need to be creative 24/7. The key is to understand when you should harness your creativity and when you need to give yourself permission to take time off to give your brain space to rest to serve you once more when it's necessary.
Take our word for it: you’ll never run out of creative ideas because creativity is infinite. That’s a fact.