Every person has the ability to be creative. It doesn’t matter what field you work in or even if you haven’t cared about art or writing in the past. You have a creative side that can come up with fresh perspectives and ideas.
However, not everyone can access their creative abilities.
One major reason for this is that most people don’t realize that creativity is about taking action. The common notion is that creativity is a personality trait and you’re either born creative or not. Now, this is far from the truth. We are all creative and it appears in different ways. Some people write, some people code and others cook. It’s important to expand what you think being creative means.
Since creativity is, by definition, thinking outside the box, we need to use unconventional ways to bring out our original thoughts and impulses.
In this post, we’ll cover some counter-intuitive ways to make this happen. You’ll be able to uncover new ideas, express yourself better, and find uncommon solutions to problems. You’ll even reduce stress levels because you’ll be tapping into a source of inspiration and fun. Let’s get started!
As a child, you’ve probably doodled in your notebooks while class was going on. And maybe you still carry out this habit during meetings. Doodles are not meaningless scribbles. When we doodle, we’re more focused and using more of our brains as we write, draw, and think.
According to Sunni Brown, author of The Doodle Revolution, you doodle in a deliberate way to:
- Simplify complex ideas for other people
- Understand difficult concepts through visual drawings
- Retain information more easily
- Find creative solutions to challenging problems
To apply doodling to creativity, all you need is a pen and some paper. If you’re working with a team, then a flipchart with an easel or a whiteboard will do.
Draw the problem you’re facing and try to picture solutions by creating stick figures, arrows, boxes, and decorative text.
If you’re trying to come up with a new product or to design your website, doodling will help you put down your ideas in picture form which will bring interesting ideas to the surface.
Learn unconnected subjects
Creativity is about connecting dots of knowledge across different subjects. You put together things that have never been put together before. And to do this, you need to have knowledge about varied and unusual topics.
So, a practical way to boost your creativity is to do online courses on subjects that aren’t necessarily relevant to your daily life. Learning a forgotten language, knitting, data analysis, or Shakespearean poetry will provide you with bits of information that expand your thinking.
You will come up with new ways of looking at information or can combine the different things you know to form something new.
Freewriting is where you write continuously and allow any and all thoughts that appear to go down on paper. At no point should you pause or edit the words that come up. It’s a good idea to set a timer and practice freewriting in ten, fifteen, or twenty-minute intervals. Then take a break and start again.
Freewriting helps in many ways:
- It forces your brain to expel surface-level thoughts so that truly creative ideas are compelled to emerge
- You can get into a flow state if you choose longer periods of time to free write
- You’ll be able to create blog posts, articles, and other types of writeups faster
This exercise takes the abstract term ‘creativity’ and turns it into action. By sitting down and writing, you break the mental obstacles that keep you from allowing your ideas to take shape. Artists and creative personalities ranging from Picasso to Steven Pressfield and Julia Cameron will tell you that being creative is doing work.
Freewriting helps you to get into action. And what follows is the emergence of original and profound new ideas.
So far, we’ve looked at practical ways to be more creative. I’ve also said that being creative is about doing things and taking action. It is essential to work as hard as you can and push yourself to learn and try new things.
However, working hard can take you only so far. Your next step is to take breaks where you completely move away from the work you’ve done.
Taking a break can be as short as a thirty-minute nap. Or it can last a week or two. It all depends on the kind of work you’re doing and what your deadline is.
When taking a break, make sure that you don’t do anything that’s related to the problem you’re working on. Read a book, spend time with family, or indulge in a personal spa treatment. A complete disconnect from your creative efforts is necessary.
Relaxing and shifting your attention to other things allows your mind to process information in the background without interference from your conscious thinking.
When you go back to working on a project, writing, or solving a problem, you won’t just feel refreshed, you may also find your mind teeming with great ideas.
Go for a walk
In Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, one of her key activities for boosting creativity is going for a brisk walk every day for 20 minutes. And science backs this up!
A Standford study compared how different groups of people performed on creative tests. One group walked outdoors, another walked on a treadmill while facing a blank wall, and yet another group consisted of people pushed around on wheelchairs outside.
While all groups improved their performance on divergent thinking creativity tests, it’s the group that walked outdoors that did the best.
So, the next time you’re overwhelmed or stuck, go for a long and brisk walk. You’ll come back feeling better and more productive. Consider starting the habit of walking every day, it will have both mental and physical health benefits.
Finding your creative side can help you become more productive. You’ll solve problems at work and stand out, and you’ll be able to resolve issues in your personal life.
It’s also personally fulfilling to express yourself and create new things. Here, we’ve covered some simple but impactful steps that you can take to improve your creativity. Explore these counter-intuitive techniques for yourself to showcase your originality.
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