Creativity in contemporary culture has been cast up on a pedestal as an illusive pursuit meant only for “creative types”. Creativity requires our brains to make new connections between previously unconnected ideas and nearly everyone is born with this capability. How many truly uncreative children have you encountered? Probably not many (if any!) So the assertion that you’re simply not “the creative type” doesn’t make sense at all. You are! It’s just that your creative capacity has been struggling to breathe and grow in the vacuum that it’s been placed into.
Your creativity might seem shriveled and dry now, but here are ten specific ways to breathe new life into your creative self.
1. Embarrass yourself.
The fear of embarrassment or shame is what keeps people from being creative. You have to be willing to make a mistake, fail and look silly. In college I took an actin class that was very physical (pretending to be monkeys and things like that). At first I was so embarrassed that I would be sweaty and gross if I committed to the physicality of the exercises, but only when I decided the embarrassment was worth the creative gain did I really reach a new level of skill and freedom.
2. Write by hand. A lot.
In a culture that is continually moving more toward the digital, it is not hard to go a whole day without writing anything down by hand. Heck! I make my grocery lists on my phone these days. But scientists have clearly proven that there is a strong connection between writing by hand and retaining information and generating ideas. The simple practice of slowly committing your hand to writing down your thoughts will over time foster new ideas that allow you to be more creative.
3. Pick a new hobby.
Learn to knit. Take piano lessons. Try your hand at water colors. Picking something that you’re unfamiliar with and struggling to learn a new skill helps to create healthy new pathways in your brain. The act of learning a low commitment creative act will breed confidence if your inner creative-self.
4. Play with a child.
The next time you get the opportunity to engage with a young child, really do it. Don’t halfheartedly race cars with your nephew, but learn from him! If he wants to play doctor commit to your role as a wounded sailor. Taking play seriously. Children have no inner sensor that keeps them from breaching social norms, and they create with more abandon than most adults. Learn from the creative abandon of the children in your life.
5. Schedule it.
It may seem counter intuitive, to put ‘creative time’ on your weekly calendar, but it is unrealistic to assume that you will suddenly be able to channel creativity all day every day. By designating a specific time every week (or several times a week!) to be creative you are helping yourself follow through and be intentional about your creative endeavors. Plus, marking it on the calendar will make you more likely to actually do the deed!
6. Keep a notebook with you.
Keep a notebook handy with you at all times to encourage yourself to capture those unpredictable creative thoughts. Write down ideas, funny quotes, doodles and sketches. Make this notebook a judgement free place where you can hold all of those little creative glimpses that shimmer through our days.
7. Take yourself on a date.
Julia Cameron, author of the book The Artist’s Way stresses the importance of taking your inner-artist on a date. Take your creative self somewhere that will feed your creativity. Go to a museum! Go to a play! Take a coloring book and go to a local coffee shop! There are countless ways to take yourself on an artists date.
8. Move your body.
Get up from the computer screen, turn off the t.v., leave your sketch book at home and work up some sweat. Go for a brisk 20 minute walk. Turn your music up loud and dance it out. Moving your body will help to break up the monotony of your day and the monotony of your thought processes. Regular exercise will lead to a more creative life.
9. Make lists.
List making might seem like an entirely uncreative act, but making lists will actually trigger unconscious connections and help you to generate new ideas. I’m not talking about a grocery list, but lists of ideas, memories, likes or dislikes. Creating a massive like of things you love will not only help you be more creative but it will help you learn about yourself as you see patterns arise in the things you write down.
10. Let yourself be bored.
I run from boredom like the plague. Any lull in my day I whip out my phone and scroll various social media outlets to keep my brain from sensing even a whiff of boredom. But if we let ourselves be bored we are giving our minds space to daydream. As they say, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ so if your mind is not being constantly filled with outside stimulus it will be forced to create it’s own stimulus.
Don’t run from your creative self because of fear. Everyone is insecure. Just lug your insecurity along with you and allow yourself to be vulnerable anyway. Engaging in these ten things will help you explore your creative self and grow in your creativity.
Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com