10 Ways to Supercharge Your Creativity
10 Ways to Supercharge Your Creativity
by Randy Laist
What is creativity? Where do our ideas come from? How can we harness our mental power to invent new ways of thinking and new ways of seeing ourselves, the world and other people?
You may be a writer or an artist looking for your next great idea. But no matter who you are, nurturing your creativity can enhance your life in many ways. Creativity can help you:
• Break out of habitual routines
• Identify solutions to problems at work
• Enliven personal relationships
• Achieve spiritual insights
• Make inspired lifestyle choices
• Live with mindfulness, gratitude and joy
Unfortunately, creative ideas cannot be deliberately hunted down and trapped. Creative people practice strategies that allow creative ideas to come to them.
1. Meditate or pray – Modern life is full of stimuli that are constantly pulling on our attention. These everyday distractions are often so insistent that they completely occupy our thoughts with mundane details. Meditation and prayer can help to bring the mind back to itself, allowing opportunities for the mind to integrate our thoughts in new, creative ways.
2. Get into nature – Nature is the source of all of life’s creativity. The various textures, smells, sights and sounds of the natural world contain a richness and density that activate parts of the brain that go unused in standardized, artificial environments. Since the dawn of time, creative people have recognized plants, animals and open space as powerful sources of inspiration.
3. Freewrite – Generating words and sentences can be an effective way of excavating the resources of the inner mind. Freewriting is a kind of uncensored personal writing in which you just write whatever comes to mind, free-associating from one idea to the next. Many times, people discover that the sentences they write contain ideas they didn’t know they had.
4. Brainstorm – Most of the time, when we are trying to come up with an idea, we snatch at the first idea that occurs to us and run with it. Sometimes, the first idea you have will be the best one, but other times, the second, third or fourth idea might be better. You will never know, however, unless you take the extra step of spit-balling multiple solutions to any given creative challenge. Like freewriting, brainstorming should be an uncensored free-for-all in which you give your imagination permission to run wild, and then see what happens.
5. Identify small creative projects – Your ultimate goals might be to write a novel, to forge a career, to find yourself or to live a meaningful life. Thinking big is critical if you want to become and remain motivated and inspired. Identifying and achieving small goals, however, can provide a more immediate kind of satisfaction that can help us to feel like we are making actual progress.
6. Talk with friends or family about your ideas – For most of us, the most immediate source of inspiration is the people who surround us every day. Including our loved ones in our creative process can be a stimulating way of discovering new perspectives and points of view, as well as strengthening these relationships. When we talk about our ideas with the people we love, this love seeps into our ideas, making them fresher and more alive.
7. Keep a dream journal – Dreams are one of the most dramatic illustrations of the creative capacity of the human brain, but they also are strangely ephemeral. Keeping a dream journal allows you to harness the surreal energies of dream imagery in ways that can provoke more creativity in your waking life. Getting into the habit of writing notes to yourself immediately after you wake up in the morning can stimulate thoughtfulness and creativity throughout the day.
8. Get side-tracked – Throughout the routine of daily life, we may catch our minds wandering and forcibly re-direct them to more immediate concerns. The wandering mind, however, is a mind on the scent of a creative idea. When the mind wanders, therefore, the most productive thing to do is to follow it, as if it were a butterfly sniffing out an exotic flower. If you can unobtrusively follow your wandering mind to wherever it wants to go, it may be able to show you something you never noticed before.
9. Go for a long walk – Walking is a time-honored technique for stimulating creative thinking. It may be something about the ancestral bodily rhythm of walking or the shifting sensual experiences that walking exposes, or maybe it is just a cue to the brain that it can take a little vacation until the body arrives at its destination, but a long walk is the best prescription to cure a lack of inspiration.
10. Trust yourself – Most importantly, creative people tend to believe in their own capacity for creativity and to believe that their ideas are good simply because the ideas are theirs. A lot of bad ideas are just good ideas that lack conviction, and somewhere there is an intellectual limbo filled with the spirits of world-changing ideas that were never acted upon because the people who had them didn’t believe in themselves enough to perceive their value. When you have an idea, believe in it, nurture it, listen to it, and devote yourself to teaching your idea to fly.
Creativity is nothing less than the power to change the world. Human creativity has produced the world we live in, and human creativity will produce the future we invent for ourselves. The more tools we have at our disposal to imagine creative possibilities for ourselves and our world, the more likely we will be as a species to use this tremendous gift wisely.
Randy Laist is a professor of English at Goodwin College in East Hartford. He is the author of The Twin Towers in Film: A Cinematic History of New York City’s World Trade Center. He can be reached at [email protected]