How to be more creative: These tips won't fail you
Turn on your creativity with our top tips for finding fresh inspiration
Having ideas is essential to turn on your creativity. But what if we get stuck in a rut, and feel as if we’re creating the same thing over and over again? What if we get so bogged down in one project that we lose the sheer joy of finding new creative inspiration? What if the creative mojo goes into hiding? It can happen to any of us.
Creativity isn’t the same thing as productivity but they’re linked, and have things in common. Just as there are ways to make yourself more productive, there are ways to fine-tune your creativity and make sure it’s given the chance it deserves to fuel your creative practice with new ideas and fresh inspiration.
There’s a knack to being more creative and we’ve put together ten handy tips to revitalise your approach and kickstart your creativity:
1. Be open-minded
Having a fixed notion of what you want to achieve can limit your creative flow. Try putting your expectations to one side and see what happens. Play with ideas. Try different options. Perhaps your creations want to behave differently from what you originally intended. Perhaps your writing, or art, or dance, or crafting, comes to life when you try a new style. Perhaps a new piece of information will make you shape the thing you’re working on a whole new way? Creative people are always ready to at least consider new possibilities and how they could be applied to their work.
2. Be curious
‘What would happen if… ?’ are fantastic words to spark ideas, and being creative means having ideas. Lots of them. Creative people are always interested in what’s around them and in the wider world. They’re on the lookout for things to add to their collection of useful snippets: of knowledge, of information, of insights, of things that could feed into their work. Being interested in what’s going on around you means being mentally engaged, which will inevitably lead to having ideas and being more creative.
3. Be playful
Take yourself away from your computer or screen and do something silly. Sing songs. Dance. Play games. Make up funny rhymes. Look for the absurd. Remember what it felt like when you were a child, playing whenever possible, effortlessly creative. Then take it to the page or screen and give yourself permission to muck about. Play with words. Scribble some quick doodles. Take a load of pictures and try new ways of filtering the images. String bits and pieces of ideas together and see what happens. If it’s rubbish that’s fine. But you might be surprised by how many good creative thoughts you’ve had as a result of freeing yourself up and playing.
4. Do it for love/pleasure/fun
Try to approach creating, the thing you love, with happy anticipation. Put your expectations to one side and concentrate on the process, getting ideas flowing and putting them in shape. Be mindful about creating in the moment, for the pleasure of doing it. Don’t put pressure on yourself to achieve a target, just allow yourself to be creative, and see what you come up with.
5. Try something new
If your creativity is stuck in a rut, try a new style, or experimenting with perspective, or attempting a new genre. If you always write poems, try a crime story. If you’re a non-fiction writer, what kind of creativity might you unleash if you try flash fiction? Photographers, pick up your pencils and sketchbook. Dancers, how might you turn on your creativity in a new way by reading a book about science? Trying something different will force you to think about your creativity in a new way, and we guarantee that your creative brain will come up with all sorts of possibilities you might not have previously considered.
6. Don’t do anything
Lost for creative inspiration? Can’t get motivated to crete anything? Give your brain a rest. Put your manuscript to one side, switch off the computer, put the camera in a drawer, hide the pens. Clean out that cupboard, scrub the kitchen floor, make a batch of soup. If you need a long-term break, that’s fine too. Watch a new series on Netflix, go to the gym, try some new recipes. Relatively mundane, useful stuff – nothing too out of the ordinary. Before you know it your mind, starved of creative stimuli, will be itching with frustrated creativity and you’ll be ready to start creating something new or get back to the piece of work that needed to be put to one side for a bit.
7. Go for a walk
Walking can be a meditative and creatively inspiring activity – your body is engaged in repetitive physical activity, your eyes are observing what is happening around you and your mind is free for your thoughts to go where they will. Most of us spend our working and writing lives deskbound or sitting with a laptop, so going for a walk will provide contrast, which we need in our creative lives. Research has demonstrated that walking gets you out of a rut, provides exercise and mental stimuli, and helps turn on your creativity – so why not put your best foot forward?
8. Talk to someone
Brainstorm your ideas with group of creative people. Have a constructive chat with a friend. Other people see things differently from you, which offers you creative perspectives you may not have considered. Bounce ideas around and see what you come up with. Creative communication is a sure-fire way of sparking new ideas.
9. Do something inspiring
Deliberately schedule an experience that will provoke a new way of seeing things or alter your routine. Go on a weekend break to an inspiring place. Try something you’ve always wanted to do – making stained glass, paragliding, a yoga weekend. Volunteer with a charity. And, because creative people love a busman’s holiday, sign up for a class or course or retreat in your area. Whatever you chose, you will be refreshed and invigorated and full of creative inspiration.
10. Schedule it in
This is probably the most useful tip of all for being more creative: make time for it. You turn up at work, at the gym, for social engagements, so why not give your creative life the same value? It deserves it. Make a commitment to give yourself to regular creative time – perhaps one morning or evening a week when, no matter what, that is what you do. Some people swear by diaries or journalling, or doing morning pages, but it all adds up to the same thing: a regular commitment. Carve out a suitable timeslot and make it part of your routine. There’s nothing beats showing up for something to give it a chance of success, and that includes your creative life as much as any other aspect of existence. Doing it will also give you the opportunity to set weekly deadlines – and deadlines, as any working freelance creative will tell you, are the most effective way of all of consistently producing new work.
We’d love to know how these tips helped you fine-tune your creative practice and generate new ideas. Keep us up to date on your creative life on our Facebook and Twitter pages, and if you’re a subscriber or writing group member, Writing Magazine would love to hear from you for the Subscriber Spotlight and Circles’ Roundup pages!