It is time to de-bunk that myth about creativity being a God-given talent only given to a select few. The reality is that the ability to be creative is within all of us. The notable author Malcolm Gladwell also affirms this in his book Outliers. From chess champions to musical prodigies such as the Beatles, Gladwell highlights the fact that that many creative geniuses in history are simply a product of many hours practicing their craft.
The whole field of Neuroscience, specifically Neuroplasticity is buzzing with excitement with more and more research showing that the brain is very flexible in its ability to learn, acquire different traits, and go through significant changes. As more people are making amazing changes to their brain through training, it should be great encouragement for everyone wanting to cultivate a more creative mind.
Here are 13 exercises to get you started.
1. Draw something.
Nobody is expecting you to be the next Picasso. And your first attempt may be a stick figure, but drawing has been shown to have significant effects in activating parts of your right brain. Whether it is your coffee mug, your laptop, or your sunglasses, take out a pencil and just start sketching.
The wonderful Japanese art of Origami is about as creative as creativity can get. Take a piece of paper and turn it into something spectacular. There is no shortage of resources online to get you started on your first crane.
3. Genre jump.
Read something completely outside of your typical genre and style. Find an author that you have never read before and who writes in a style you are not used to. If you typically read romance novels, try read something from an academic journal. Cross over to the literary “dark side” and allow different genres to stretch you. It will allow you to think and write in more creative ways.
4. Adjective spill.
Look out the window, what do you see? Quickly describe it ten different ways! The tree? Green, lush, tall, rough, beautiful, swaying—get that creativity flowing as you force your brain to throw out some descriptive words.
5. Become bilingual, or trilingual.
A great way to get your creative brain firing new neurons is to start learning that language you have always dreamed of. Pop down to the old second-hand book store and pick up a little phrase book. Start learning a new phrase each day and impress your friends while you are at it.
6. Look for a new life hack.
Always be on the lookout for how you could do something better or different. Use an empty water bottle to separate an egg. Turn your toaster sideways to grill cheese.
7. Get musical.
The effects of music on the brain is tremendous, not just because of therapeutic aspects but also in the activation of so many different regions. Almost every song can be broken down to a progression of 4 different chords that you can easily learn on guitar or piano. With endless resources online, charge up your creative mind through exposing it to learning music.
Exposure to a different culture, landscape, foods, and people is an amazing experience in and of itself. It is certainly great for developing your creative mind as it soaks up all the new information. You don’t need to go to the other side of the world either; any environment that is “new” for the mind is beneficial.
9. Lights, camera, action.
Pretend to be someone else for ten or twenty minutes. Put on that southern Texan drawl, or that British East-ender accent. Have a little fun and think of that movie character you have always wanted to play. Putting yourself in another person’s shoes will certainly force you into being creative.
10. Increase your vocabulary.
Open up your dictionary and randomly choose a word, and then try and use it in a conversation today. There are lots of online dictionaries also that will already have a new word featured for each day. Keep a list and keep adding to it. A larger vocabulary will allow you to be more creative with your words.
Painting, rather than drawing, adds the major use of color. The combinations and balances that you are challenged with developing will require a creative spark. There is a great connection between the mind and colors. Playing around with varying contrasts will produce creativity.
12. Become an Iron chef.
Pick 4 ingredients out of your fridge or pantry and see what you can manage to come up with. But careful not to make yourself sick! Also, you could take one ingredient and see how many different ways you could use it.
13. Calisthenics, Parkour, and dancing.
Exercise is absolutely crucial for a healthy brain. Tie exercise together with creativity and you have a great combination. Calisthenics are exercises based off your own body weight. Many of these exercises can be done using furniture in your house or down at the park on the kids playground—people have become quite creative in what they can use. If you are really comfortable with your abilities, then Parkour is a great way to combine exercise and creativity. Otherwise, here is just another reason for you to start taking dance lessons!
Featured photo credit: Schlüsselbein2007 via flickr.com