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7 Easy Ways To Get Creative…Now!    

7 Easy Ways To Get Creative…Now!

Art by FISK

By Karen Siff Exkorn

You need to write that project. You have to solve that problem. You promised yourself you’d come up with a creative solution to stay motivated through yet another Zoom call.

So what do you do? 

Well, on your most creative days, you happily sit at your computer and type away or daydream away or Zoom away while your ideas magically flow. But on those other days…

Listen, anyone who tells you there’s no such thing as writer’s block or creator’s block is not a writer. Or a creator. Because the truth is that this block does exist. Sometimes it’s a little stone that you can kick away easily, and sometimes it’s a massive boulder that doesn’t budge even after you smash your body into it.

We’ve all been there. It’s not fun. But take heart. There are some fun solutions to help you get through, over, and around those blocks. Solutions that can lead to your next big idea. Or at the very least, get you to stop smashing into that damn boulder.

One more thing. Think you’re not creative? Think again. It’s not just artists and writers who are creative. No matter what we do, we all use creativity every day to solve problems and generate ideas.

Here are some tried and true tips to help boost your creativity:

1. Try The Suck Solution

Write the worst thing ever. Come up with the worst ideas ever. Create the worst piece of art ever. Think about the worst solutions to your problems, and make sure they really suck.

Believe it or not, people end up doing some of their best creative work when they start out trying to do their worst. Why? Because when we go into perfectionist mode, it’s as if we’re signaling the creative parts of our brains to shut down. The cortisol that gets released when our bodies go into fight-or-flight response might be great for saving our lives, but it’s not so great when it comes to saving our creative souls. 

Here’s how you can do this: Set your intention to create something terrible. Then sit down and go for it. Write or draw horribly, or simply brainstorm ridiculously awful ideas. Then watch what happens. Out of the muck, you might surprise yourself and find that you create something wonderful. 

Try to remember the story of the lotus flower. It is rooted in the mud, but finds a way to push through that mud to bloom and grow into something beautiful. Sometimes you need to get down in the mud in order to allow your creative ideas to blossom. 

2. Go Upside Down

If you can do a headstand without hurting yourself, then go for it! Or maybe just try bending over (again without hurting yourself) and looking between your legs as the upside-down world looks back at you. Not feeling flexible? Then move your chair to the other side of your desk. Or move yourself into the other room. 

By physically changing your body posture or your environment, you allow yourself to “look” at things differently. And this can boost your creativity. Your brain is constantly processing your environment. If you’re working at the same desk in the same chair that’s in the same position, then your brain may stay in the same state. Which is great if your ideas are flowing, but not so great if you’re stuck. 

So get moving! Move your body into a different position, move your furniture, or move yourself into a different physical space. 

3. Write And Write And Write And Write. And Write

The next time you need to come up with an idea, grab a piece of paper and a writing utensil (pen/pencil/crayon), set a timer to seven minutes, and write. The key is to keep writing for the entire time. Do not stop. The pen cannot leave the paper. It doesn’t have to make sense, you don’t have to use punctuation, and you can feel free to make every grammar mistake and use every curse word imaginable. Even if you have no ideas, you can write, “I have no ideas” or “Where are my ideas?” over and over again. 

Often what happens is that thoughts and ideas get unleashed because you are engaged in free association. Free association is a method typically used in psychotherapy, where the client talks about anything and everything that comes to mind—with no censoring. Applying this same principle to your writing can help you achieve a breakthrough.

And yes, writing on paper is even better than writing on a computer, because studies show that writing by hand activates brain regions that can generate more ideas. Feel like writing more than seven minutes? Ignore your timer and keep on writing. Many people who try this exercise find that the ideas just keep on flowing.

4. Stay In Bed

We are often at our most creative when our bodies and brains are relaxed, which is usually late at night as we’re lying in bed or early in the morning when we first wake up. Instead of grabbing for your phone and scrolling through social media or the latest news, take advantage of these times to allow your creativity to emerge.

At night, sometimes it’s as simple as allowing yourself to relax. A warm shower or bath before bed can help. While lying in bed, simply notice what ideas come up. If creative ideas emerge, then make sure to write them down or record them into your phone right away. Do not wait until the morning. (Sadly, too many ideas are lost as we drift off.)

Or try planting seeds. Use that relaxing time at night to pose questions that relate to your creative project. Not sure what specific question to ask? Then keep it simple: “How can I come up with ideas for this project?” Say it, think it, or write it. The point is that you’re giving your unconscious an assignment. Then, as you probably heard when you were a kid, “Sleep on it.” In the morning, when you wake up and your brain is in a relaxed state, stay in bed and notice what ideas come up. Jot down or record your ideas. Sometimes, taking a few minutes to enjoy a creative burst of ideas in bed in the morning can save you hours of time later.

5. Kick Critics Out

You know who they are. Those inner critics in your head who drive you crazy and do not allow you access to your creativity. The ones who chime in with unwanted notes (“Are you really writing that???”) while you’re in the midst of the creative process. They might take on the voices of parents, teachers, friends, or celebrities you don’t even know (What would Beyoncé think?). Your inner critics act like gatekeepers who often end up keeping not just bad ideas out, but good ones, too.

So what do you do? Tell them to, “Get out!” Your creative time needs to be your own. Use your self-talk to rid yourself of any voices that are not supporting your process. If there’s a mentor who is cheering you on, then invite that person in. Create the right headspace to be creative.

6. Walk Away

Don’t force your creativity. If you’re not under an urgent deadline, then go do something else. Take a walk. Actually, studies show that walking in nature (versus walking on a treadmill) can actually stimulate creativity. What to do while you’re walking? Just walk. Don’t talk on your phone or check your phone or do anything phone-related, unless it involves taking photos of something beautiful you observe in nature. 

Walking away from a project allows your brain to percolate. Even if you’re not consciously aware of it, your unconscious is still working. And if you don’t come up with your brilliant idea on that day, trust the process. It will come. 

7. Listen to This

The sounds in our environment can affect our creative state. Some people prefer quiet, some like sounds of nature, and some even enjoy noise (the sound of traffic is soothing for some of my NYC writer friends). Get a sense of what sounds fuel your creative state and incorporate them into your physical space. 

You can also listen to music, but not just any music. Studies show that listening to happy music can boost creativity. The genre of music doesn’t matter, as long as it’s music that makes you feel good. If you might find yourself dancing, even better. Putting yourself in a “feel good” state of mind can enhance your creativity. 

On a final note, I have a confession. I was actually completely blocked when I sat down to write this article. Luckily, I was able to dig into my toolbox of tips and use some of the ones that I’m offering you. And I had fun writing it! I hope you have fun trying them out. From one creator to another, I wish you an abundance of creativity.

Keep the conversation going by commenting on this story below. You can also connect with us about whatever’s on your mind by texting The Local Optimist Hotline at 310.299.9414.