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How I Become Creative by Spending 10 Minutes a Day to Exercise My Brain Muscle
I still remember a time when I was around 6 years old, I drew a picture about me and my parents during art class. That was my first class and I could draw anything but I really wanted to draw my family and so I did. My other classmates drew something different, some drew animals, some drew ugly aliens, some drew pretty princesses. My teacher came to me and said, “Brian, you can be more creative next time.” And at that moment I thought, maybe I really wasn’t a creative person, and I thought maybe creativity was inborn.I still remember a time when I was around 6 years old, I drew a picture about me and my parents during art class. That was my first class and I could draw anything but I really wanted to draw my family and so I did. My other classmates drew something different, some drew animals, some drew ugly aliens, some drew pretty princesses. My teacher came to me and said, “Brian, you can be more creative next time.” And at that moment I thought, maybe I really wasn’t a creative person, and I thought maybe creativity was inborn.
As I grew up, this belief stuck with me until I read a book called It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be by Patrick O’Neill. It convinced me that as long as I wanted to be more creative, I could train myself to be a creative person.
So I started to research more tips and tricks on creativity. There is a popular exercise in Improv Comedy called “Yes and”.1 When one person comes up with a fairly simple idea, the other person responds by adding a smaller detail. So I took reference of this exercise and created an exercise that could stretch my creativity like workouts do for my muscles.
This exercise is perfect for anyone who lives a busy life with a full schedule. This is also great for anyone who works in an environment where tasks are fully instructed and novelty is not required. Even if you aren’t working in a creative field, training your creativity with this exercise will help you approach challenges and problems in bold and inventive ways.
The exercise I’m going to introduce to you will only take you ten minutes a day to train up your creativity muscle.
I call this mental exercise, The Journey of A Man And A Dog.
Here’s how it goes…
First, imagine there’s a man and a dog.
Consider the relationship between them.
Where did the dog come from? How long has the man had the dog?
What breed is the dog, and what might this breed suggest (for example a Greyhound might suggest things different than a poodle would).
Is the dog the man’s pet? Is the man walking his dog in a park?
After you’ve spent some time considering this, try to think about more possibilities.
For example, maybe the man found the dog abandoned somewhere.
Why was the dog abandoned? How was the dog?
Don’t be afraid to play with this idea, go in as many strange places you like. Maybe the man and dog are post-apocalyptic survivors exploring a wasteland? Maybe the dog is the more powerful and intelligent one in the relationship? All you need to do is keep adding to this.
Try to be even more creative with fantasy elements.
For example, maybe the man is a scientist and he’s planning to take the dog to the Mars to see if it can survive there.
Adding things to their relationship encourages you to think in ways different to how you would normally think. Thus developing your mental capacity to think in these new, creative ways.
The exercise doesn’t always have to be about a man and a dog.
If, for some reasons you find this limiting, you could consider:
- a teacher and a student
- a police officer and a criminal
- a rich man and a homeless man
- a spider and an old man
- a man with a broomstick
- a girl with a tattoo
- … any possible relationship between two or more people is perfect.
After a while you could even adapt this exercise to the real world.
Look outside your window to the people walking past outside and try to think of the lives they lead. Try to come up with interesting or funny stories behind each person. It’s creatively stimulating and strangely fun!
Before you know it your mind will become accustomed to thinking creatively, and you will naturally be used to flexing your creative muscle.
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