Creativity always eludes me when I need it the most. Maybe because it is because I rush to do work, and due to this hurried pace I end up doing nothing. I wrap up the day not finishing anything. My productivity goes down to zero percent.
This is why I’ve decided to cover this topic, and in this post we will explore 10 surprising ways to fire up your creativity.
1. Spend quiet time with God every day.
The time you invest doing this will definitely recharge your batteries. The creator of the universe is the most creative being. When you spend time with him, his creativity rubs off on you. Besides, when you have bonding with God, your stress, anxieties, anger, fears, doubts, and unforgiveness, all, will melt away. If you do this regularly, and you do it properly (I suggest you consult a pastor or a religious mentor so you’ll be guided accordingly), you will experience an overwhelming peace. The kind of peace Christians describe as “peace that surpasses understanding”. This tranquility brings about unbounded creativity.
2. Remind yourself that creativity is a slow process.
If you’re a creative like me, you know you need to be ingenious all the time to make a living. The truth is you need creativity to survive. Here’s the thing, when work has piled up, and you need to rush things, the problem starts, and it can escalate to an artist’s block if you’re not careful.
When this problem arises, it’s best to remind yourself about these ideas I picked up from Christine Kane’s article 21 Ways to be More Creative:
When you want to do something creative you shouldn’t rush things. Creativity can’t be forced, but it can be cultivated and it can be allowed. It usually happens when your mind is open and receptive. So, upon starting to work on something, you have to let go of all little and big things that are currently bothering you. Shove them away from your consciousness and focus on just the task in front of you. If you need to call someone, by all means make that call. If you work at home, and you have to feed your pet, do it fast. If you need to water the plants, do it then go back to your desk. Take a breath, relax, then start working.
3. When you’re tired, your brain becomes more creative.
I know it’s counter intuitive, but your brain is more creative when you’re tired, not when you’re well rested.
“The reason behind this is that a tired brain struggles to filter out distractions and focus on one thing. It’s also more likely to wander off on tangents. While that seems like a bad thing when you’re working, creative thinking actually benefits from distractions and random thoughts. Research has shown that we’re better at “thinking outside the box” at our non-optimal times.” ~ BELLE BETH COOPER, BUFFER
Cooper further illustrates the point by sharing an article from the Scientific American. I was dumbfounded to know that distractions are actually good for creative thinking:
Insight problems involve thinking outside the box. This is where susceptibility to “distraction” can be of benefit. At off-peak times we are less focused, and may consider a broader range of information. This wider scope gives us access to more alternatives and diverse interpretations, thus fostering innovation and insight.
4. Take a 20-minute walk everyday.
It’s true, exercise can help us get creative. We all know this. However, sometimes it gets to a point when we get too driven about working out. You go to the gym. You go biking, and go swimming. So you might say, what’s that, a 20-minute walk? You belittle the exercise and you doubt whether it’s worth the effort or not. Open your mind. Engage in a 20-minute walk and watch as the whole world unfolds. Witness the sun rising, observe the people as they prepare for another business day at the market. Stop for a while, and smell coffee brewing. Observe the movement of leaves as they fall on the street. Smell flowers as they bloom. Watch as the world slowly shows its beauty to you.
5. Creativity points to ambient noises as the best background.
I’ve always believed that silence is the best background for working on creative projects. My jaws dropped when I got a revelation: ambient noises with the right levels are way better for creative thinking than the sound of silence. Although, silence works well with a more intense focus, making it perfect for problem solving and with detail intensive tasks, creative thinking, on the contrary, thrives in places with cafe like noises. This promotes inventiveness, and broad range mental activity.
That’s the main point in having tools such as Coffitivity to deliver ambient café sounds to your desk.
6. Listen to a genre of music you have never explored.
After watching Slumdog millionaire, I got interested in Indian music. Don’t worry, the Internet is a blessing when it comes to seeking for different kinds of music; even the hard-to-find ones. I got all the Indian music I could listen to from lastfm.com and other sites. New music has power to touch areas in our brain, aside from the auditory cortex, that produces chemical changes resulting to amplified creative abilities.
7. Constraints can be favorable to creative work.
Many people especially those who are artistically inclined believe that freedom spells better creative results. They are proven wrong with the information that is about to be poured out. Cooper further explains,
“Counterintuitively, it turns out that constraints can actually increase our creative output.” This is due to the fact that if the overwhelm of too many choices is removed from the equation, creativity will flow.
Another way of defining creativity is the ability to transcend constraints. In other words, to be creative means to device a clever way of getting out from a difficult situation, or unleash a fresh idea to turn the lack of resources into an advantage. I’m reminded of the Ramones and the Sex Pistols when talking about this premise. They are bands whose lack of formal training became an advantage rather than a limiting factor. Film makers Spike Lee & Richard Rodriguez, are good examples of this definition too. Their first films only cost them an amount that is even lower than the price of a new car.
8. Be silent.
I know some people who can’t stand silence. However, in silence we can hear the voice of creativity. Well, maybe not right away, but if you do it more often, it will come. According to Christine Kane, here’s how to do it. After dark, light a few candles. Just sit quietly doing nothing. Watch the candles. The world has turn really noisy. Allow silence to rule your world once in a while. Drive without music on. Clean the house minus your headphones. Observe the plants and the flowers when watering. Just be quiet.
9. Dim lighting makes us feel more free.
Turning the lights low can allow us to feel more free. I know that’s not believable at first, but keep on reading. Soon you’ll be enlightened. Like the title of Hemingway’s masterpiece, a clean well-lighted place is the ideal workplace for me ’cause I’m astigmatic. I tend to prefer bright lights, whether natural or electric. I’m drawn to them especially when I need to read novelesque resources. Then, I got surprised by a research proving that the dim kind of lighting elevates creative performance.
Researchers had six different studies. All point to the fact that dim lights enhance creativity. The experts discovered that even if the participants don’t notice changes in visibility, if the lighting gets dim, they became more creative. What’s the logic behind this? The participants’ subconscious felt more free to explore: “…darkness elicits a feeling of being free from constraints and triggers a risky, explorative processing style.”
In case you can’t control the lighting in your area, you can use your imagination. Envision yourself being in the dark and it could have an effect:
“Other experiments found that merely priming the idea of darkness—such as by taking five minutes to describe an experience of literally being in the dark, and recalling how it felt—was sufficient to boost creativity.”
10. Visit a gallery.
I also got this idea from Kane. She says explore another artist’s work. Make a point to experience the artistry of a gifted individual in photography, or sculpture, or pottery. Just so you won’t worry, you don’t need to buy anything from the gallery. Just appreciating another person’s art will get your creative juices flowing again.