Do you ever look at the work of your friends and colleagues and wish you were as creative as they are?  How about when you’re in the middle of a project and you run out of ideas?  You rack your brain trying to force the next great epiphany but nothing comes.

So you take a break for a while and move on to something else. You might even lose sleep over it. You return to it the next day and find that you’re not closer to any inspiration than you were when you left it. It takes you forever to come up with mediocre ideas while the people around you are producing masterpieces left and right.

The problem isn’t that you’re not creative. The problem is that you’re not tapping into your own resources. It takes intentionally developed mental strength to be creative.

1. Overcome any self-doubt.

Self-doubt is a mental block that wipes out creativity. If you are notorious for having self doubt, try this exercise to open up the flood gates of creativity.

Picture your finished project.  What does it feel like?  Whom has it inspired? Picture it well, smell it, taste it, feel it. Now take a mental picture. This is now your mental model that’s attached to this project. When the doubt creeps in, pull this picture and the feeling attached to it into your conscious mind. Your self-doubt should crumble away.

“The worst enemy to creativity is self doubt.”  –Sylvia Plath

And by the way, you can write about anything in life if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.

2. Make time.

Set time aside to work on your project. Incorporate a creative environment that brings inspiration, motivation and comfort.

“One very important aspect of motivation is the willingness to stop and to look at things that no one else has bothered to look at. This simple process of focusing on things that are normally taken for granted is a powerful source of creativity.” –Edward de Bono

3. Keep an open mind.

The subconscious mind is always coming up with ideas. They come in phrases, pictures, and sometimes in pieces, like a puzzle. Stay open to little ideas that crop up.  Don’t dismiss them as stupid or ridiculous. Write these epiphanies down and stay open.  It might not be the entire picture, but it could, quite possibly be an important piece of the puzzle. Research, explore and broaden your horizons.

“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people” –Leo Burnett

4. Fight fear of failure and rejection.

Don’t ever be afraid of creating junk. The most beautiful masterpieces, in art and in life, begin as what appears as junk.

Your mistakes and rejections can be masterpieces for someone else.  When you make a mistake, or are rejected, learn from that experience to help someone else.  Most of the time, when you make a mistake, or try to help someone else from being turned down, you find new inspiration and ideas.

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” –Scott Adams

5. Build confidence with baby steps.

When a child learns to walk they begin by falling—a lot. They keep practicing, and falling (failing) until finally they can take big steps. One tiny step sets the foundation for a bigger step tomorrow. Start by working in small time increments.

When you do short bursts, it opens up your subconscious to “marinate” the ideas you’ve already worked on and to combine those with new ones. It’s called the Incubation Process and it’s a powerful technique for creativity and productivity.

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” –Maya Angelou

6. Brainstorm.

Write down everything you can think of that might work or be something you will need at some point.  Look at it from different angles. For example, look at it from the customer’s view when considering value. Look at it from a child’s view when considering simplicity.  Keep writing until your brain is exhausted of ideas.

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try” –Dr. Seuss

7. Incubate.

Brainstorming is the conscious process; incubating is the subconscious process. This is where the majority of creativity comes from. If you really want to boost your creativity, take a break from your project after brainstorming so that your subconscious can bring forth ideas. Literally sleep on it if you have time and see what a huge difference this makes.

“Creativity is one of the last remaining legal ways of gaining an unfair advantage over the competition.” –Ed Mc Cabe

Mastering the art of creativity simply means combining the mental strength to utilize both your conscious and unconscious mind. Use these tips every single day to increase your mental strength and you will find that the floodgates of creativity will burst open.

Go here for more ways to spur creativity.

Featured photo credit: http://www.morguefile.com/creative/jdurham via morguefile.com

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