“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up”
Getting stuck on a creative process is extremely frustrating for anyone. Whether you're a detail-oriented, logical thinker, or an intuitive and artistic thinker, there are times when all of us experience difficulty coming up with solutions to problems or brainstorming ideas.
Why is it that when we are kids we can have idea after idea and when we are older we find it so hard to awaken our creativity skills? Because of two great enemies: fear and perfectionism. If you reflect for a moment, you will realize that when you don't know how to develop your creativity, you don't have a creativity problem. The underlying problem is that you are afraid.
- Fear of not being original
- Fear of others' judgment
- Fear of looking like an impostor
- Fear of not liking everybody
It's the same with perfectionism... it kills creativity. It's like a parasite taking control of the mind. Perfectionism is paralyzing in the execution of tasks. Face these two factors, enjoy imperfection and have fun. And, you know what? Creativity will come back. It is available to everyone!
1. Take frequent breaks while you work
You may have heard it before. If you're trying to come up with some new ideas but have a creative block, it's time for you to take a walk. Walking increases the blood flow to your brain and opens the flow of ideas. It is the boost you need to finally reach that "Aha!" moment.
It's also important to let your mind wander during breaks. A study from the University of British Columbia found that daydreaming is indeed an extremely important cognitive process in which we can make connections that help us solve problems. So, when in doubt, take a break.
2. Carry a notebook with you at all times
The bad thing is that good ideas are easy to forget, so memory is not an ally on these occasions. Sure, physically carrying a notebook won't magically make you more creative. But, if you have an inspirational moment while doing something apart from work and then, you're not able to remember it no matter how hard you try, it is a lost idea that could work.
Don't let those moments of inspiration escape! Carry a notebook with you everywhere (or use your phone's notepad). When you go for a run, in the shower (yes, they make waterproof notepads for this very reason), and even when you drive.
The reason we have great ideas at relaxing times is that our mind is wandering and scattered, it is free to make new connections in a relaxed “flow” state.
3. Observe nature for inspiration
This is an extremely useful idea for both people who consider themselves creative and those who don’t. When you try to come up with fresh ideas, look at the patterns in nature.
Humans tend to overcomplicate things. By directing our gaze to naturally occurring color combinations (camouflage patterns) or evolutionarily proven structure designs (beehives), we can get inspiration and produce new creative ideas that we might otherwise overlook.
4. Look for new experiences
New ideas come from discovering relationships between existing pieces of knowledge. We acquire knowledge by being open to experience new things. Learning new things provides us with knowledge and alternate points of view. Having a larger set of experiences to draw on, as well as a wider variety of perspectives, is conducive to creating new connections between different elements.
And by new experiences, we don't mean it has to be life-changing. Something as simple as taking a different route to work, trying a new jogging path, or going to a new coffee shop to get your work done is perfect.
The benefits of meditation are enormous and well-documented, and it's safe to say that it is no longer just for Buddhist monks. More and more people are incorporating meditation into their daily lives as a mindfulness practice due to its many benefits, and enhancing creativity is one of them.
Researchers explored the benefits of meditation, in which individuals focused on a single thought and actively ignored distractions and sensations and they found that meditation promotes divergent thinking (idea generation) and increases creativity. So it's worth incorporating into your routine!
6. Lack of rest kills creativity
Rest is a weapon to develop creativity. Sleeping reduces the level of stress and we access information from the subconscious, generating new connections of ideas. So, if you want to develop your creativity, you need to feel relaxed and rested
Did you know that 72% of people have good ideas in the shower? It has an explanation. Hot water is relaxing and releases more dopamine, which is a stimulant of creativity. In short, resting will increase the chances of getting good ideas in your professional and personal life.
7. Impose restrictions to encourage creativity
It might seem a bit counter-intuitive, but it's worth giving it a try. Some people find their muse under stressful and restrictive conditions. In other words, if you put certain restrictions on yourself, you could increase your creative skills. The idea is that with endless options and instructions to move forward, we freeze but imposing a restriction gives you some structure and can stimulate your momentum.
Restrictions could include things like time constraints, short deadlines, or a single task; In other words, just do one task at a time and overcome the desire to multitask. You could even go further and force yourself to generate a certain number of ideas or write within a certain word limit.
8. Brainstorm better
Most people are quiet, and only bold people are quick to share their ideas; and since those are the only ideas heard, they will impose their ideas even if they’re bad.
An ingenious solution to this problem is to do “brainwriting”. Professor Paul Paulus suggests that ideas’ generation should occur before group discussion. In fact, he conducted research with a group of participants who wrote their ideas on pieces of paper with different colored pens and passed them, each of the participants added ideas and they produced more creative ideas than they normally do without the pressure of debating with others people’s ideas.
9. Consciously focus on being more creative
Creativity, is it born or is it made? Contrary to popular belief, creativity is a teachable skill. However, to learn something you must treat it as a skill that you believe you can learn. This may involve changing the way you think about creativity - from something you are inherently born with or not, to something you can learn and improve on.
Creativity, like many other abilities, is a matter of training. In fact, knowing the technical or procedural aspects to generate new ideas will help you make the creative process more dynamic. You won’t become a genius immediately, but you’ll achieve better results in your personal and professional life, and that is a huge advantage.
10. Ask yourself new questions
When we come up with new ideas, we are essentially getting the answers to the questions we ask ourselves. The problem is, if you keep asking the same questions, you’ll keep getting the same answers.
Fortunately, new questions can cause our brains to give us new answers and more creative ideas. Einstein said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes”.
Look at concepts and circumstances from different angles - which will force you to ask new questions. That is, it’s not easy to think of new questions. Make sure you ask yourself specific and unambiguous questions. For example, someone who wants to paint might look at a blank canvas and wonder, “what do I want to paint?” or might wonder, how can I visually represent the anxiety and excitement of starting a new chapter in life?
The second question is much more likely to produce ideas, so it's important to ask yourself questions in the same way to improve your creative productivity.
11. Get away from reality
It sounds strange to hear that walking away from reality can increase your creativity, especially since the obstacles you need to overcome are real. However, distancing ourselves psychologically from problems can increase our creativity.
You can create psychological distance in a variety of ways. You can imagine your problems from someone else's perspective, or by thinking of the situation as if it were unlikely. By doing so, we make the question more abstract, and this allows us to create different connections than we would while thinking of more concrete concepts.
12. Get inspired: read, research, go to the movies
Enhancing artistic creativity helps your brain to make better connections. To achieve this, we must provide quality content. Many times we become obsessed with getting work done and think that doing other types of activities, such as reading or going to the movies, takes us away from our professional goal. Besides serving you to disconnect, it will allow you to know other realities, get in touch with different experiences and yes, increase your creativity.
When you least expect it, those connections you will have a new idea, that maybe you don't even know where it came from, but in which all the contents you have consumed have surely influenced.
13. Read books
When someone writes a book, they leave a learning experience behind them. And that learning can spark something new in you. How do you think new authors find their inspiration? They read previous authors. And then they add their part, their vision, their way of looking. They're very creative. Just do the same.
You empower your mind with everything you give it, and imagination is the tool of the most creative people in the world. Alternate training books with books of literary genres so that your imagination can breathe. Your arsenal of ideas will grow progressively with each character, situation and circumstance. Reading good books has additional benefits such as:
- Improves memory. It is a fact that reading improves memory. This is because by reading we make the brain get used to remembering characters, facts, details or situations, becoming a great mental exercise.
- Reduces stress. Reading is a relaxing activity to disconnect and move to other worlds and get into the skin of other characters. By relaxing, we reduce the body's cortisol levels, a hormone released with stress, and we turn our attention away from the problems that concern us.
- Expand your vocabulary. Reading is one of the best habits to increase your vocabulary. Like young children, who often learn new words through the context of a sentence, reading exposes your brain to a new world of words. If you really want to expand your vocabulary, try varying the types of texts you read.
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working” - Pablo Picasso.
There is no better trick for developing creativity than to practice, practice and keep practicing. By the time you realize this, you'll have made a habit of it, you'll have your own system to feed your creativity and your mind will become an endless source of ideas.
Are you feeling creative yet? Whether you are someone who has doubts about their creative potential or someone who has lost their creative rhythm, these methods will grease your gears and make your brain alert. Take walking breaks and let your mind wander, meditate as a morning routine, ask yourself questions and focus on being creative. Use new brainstorming methods or put some restrictions on yourself to help ignite the spark of your creative flame, etc.
By incorporating these methods, you will surely feel instantly filled with creative potential!