I don’t know about you, but I’m usually not too big on change, I mean, if it ain’t broke, why fix it? Right? But shrinking budgets, new technology, global warming and new marketing methods all call for us to do things differently. Bottom line: however painful it may be, change is often a good thing. And there are ways to make it less painful. Acceptance, flexibility and creative thinking can go a long way toward helping us use change to grow and become stronger. Here are sixteen ways to prime your creativity pump.
Get in the mood – Sometimes creativity needs to be wooed. For some, that can be as simple as playing some inspiring music. I like to put on some Bossa Nova and fix up my house. It helps to clear my mind and gets me in a happy and receptive mood.
Keep it simple – Simplifying your environment, so there is less distraction and clutter, also helps to clear out the cobwebs. Once you have a simpler setting, surrounding yourself with inspiring art or favorite objects can also help to set a creative mood.
Hang with the artsy crowd – Sharing conversations and down time with creative people gets you thinking in unusual ways. My favorite people have a habit of saying outrageous and absurd things. I think I love them so much because I use more of my brain when they’re around and it feels good!
Process NOT product – With play, the true benefit comes when we focus on process rather than product. I do improv on a regular basis, and the real genius moments always come about when we don’t think or plan but rather play in the moment.
Games like charades and Pictionary are a lot like improv. They can help you learn to think differently by forcing you to communicate in unusual ways and to use your imagination.
Imagination – Anything that exercises your imagination can help to get you thinking creatively. Making up stories is a good one. My brother and I used to do this when we were little by taking turns saying one word at a time. Now I do it in improv practice. If you have a child around, try it with him or her. Children are more likely not to edit themselves and help keep you from getting stuck in a “Once upon a time” box.
Nonsense – It’s said that exposure to nonsense helps you think better so I’ve been reacquainting myself with Lewis Carroll literature and Monty Python videos. One of my favorite nonsense books is In His Own Write, by John Lennon.
Use all your senses – To spark more activity in different parts of your brain, involve all your senses in your play. Toys involve the tactile sense. Play dough adds the olfactory. Cooking with a little music in the background gets all the senses involved and can be a highly enjoyable way to play and get creative.
Click away – In this age of information, your next great idea may very well be sparked by something that’s only a click away. Whatever it is you have to be creative about, there is probably a ton of information about it out there. So research and keep a notebook and pen handy to jot down any ideas that come to you.
Google the word and various forms of that word and anything closely associated with it. Check at least the first three pages of links. You never know what you might find. If you’re on Twitter or Facebook, tweet a question or post a status asking if anyone has some ideas they can send your way. You can check archives of any professional blogs that you read. (I found a couple of great articles here and here on creative meeting planning.)
Dream – Keeping track of your dreams can help you get in touch with your subconscious mind, a very creative and nonsensical part of your brain. (How many songs and stories began with a dream?)
Evernote – I just discovered Evernote, a great way to keep track of things you find on the internet and in the world around you. With Evernote, you can take pictures of books cards, anything that catches your eye wherever you happen to be and if there are words on it, you can retrieve the information by entering them later. Here are 14 great uses forEvernote.
Make friends with failure – Creative people MUST be ok with failure, because being creative involves lots of attempts and LOTS of failures. The saying “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly,” literally changed my life. I heard it about 15 years ago, when I was VERY frustrated and afraid of failure. I started to realize that I could never be great at anything unless I was willing to be bad at it first. Since then, I’ve been bad at lots of things, and I’ve had a fun time at it AND I actually got better at a lot of them. Do something you are bad at regularly, just to get used to the idea. If you stick with it, failing won’t be so scary anymore and you’ll be encouraged to try new things, which usually sparks creativity. And who knows, you might just get good at it!
Make a list – You can start be making a list of 100. I started this blog post by making a list of 100 ways to spark your creativity, which, believe it or not, wasn’t easy. You get some real interesting stuff though, when you get to the last 20.
Stream of consciousness – Write it up in a stream of consciousness. Write whatever comes into your head, however it comes. Don’t analyze or think about it too much. Don’t worry about editing, or what won’t work. Just get it all down. You can go back later and add the punctuation and correct grammar.
Don’t edit! – Don’t be too quick to throw out what looks impossible. Let it percolate in your mind, share it with others if you think it’s a great idea, but you can’t figure out how to do it. Your idea might spark another idea in someone else that might be your solution.
Whatever you do, don’t stress out. Stay open and receptive. The urge to create is human nature but all the thinking and worrying in the world can’t make you creative. In fact, it will probably block your creativity. So relax, have fun and say “Yes!” You might be surprised by the great ideas that answer you back.
Jenise Fryatt is Co-Owner and Marketing Director of Icon Presentations, an audio visual company in the Palm Springs area specializing in multi-image projection and sound. She is also a writer, actress, mother and yoga devotee. Look for future blogs by Jenise at the Icon Website or follow her on Twitter.