What does it mean to “be creative”? To “think out of the box”? I’m not really sure anybody has a definitive answer, but I do know that getting from point A to point B in the creative process comes in a million forms and can’t be blanketed with a generalized approach to being creative, because, well, that’s just not creative. As a marketer working for a marketing company (I know, so meta), I sometimes find myself feeling uninspired and staring blankly at my screen, just waiting for an idea to pop up. If you’ve ever experienced this momentary pit of despair, here are 18 ways to spark (or re-spark) your creative fire.
1. Expose yourself to different elements
Staring at a computer screen all day can cramp your sense of expression and creativity. Take a break from your typical routine of hands on the keyboard, eyes on the screen, and refuel your artistic side: doodle on a chalkboard, take photos, paint something, go for a long walk. Just step away from your computer.
2. Go on a search fest
Exploring Google images or Pinterest can be a massive time suck or a great source of inspiration. Because Google’s search results are so massive, the act of searching forces you to put into words exactly what you are trying to convey. You’ll probably discover ideas you never even considered.
3. Start typing your stream of thoughts in a blank document
Beyond just putting all your thoughts down, whenever I am experiencing extreme writer’s block, I take one of my creative writing professor’s advice and put a towel over the screen so I can’t see what I’m typing.
4. Read some amazing interviews
Hearing successful creative minds speak about their creative process is such an inspiration. I dare you to watch these interviews and not feel inspired to create.
5. Eat something that you’ve never tried before
Eating something new and exciting is a fantastic experience of new taste, smells, and textures that is sure to revitalize your mind.
6. Get advice from your peers and brainstorm on how to make your idea stronger
Friends and co-workers will usually happily discuss ideas with you (or at least sympathize) with writers block. Short brainstorming sessions can help push your idea across the finish line, help you realize the perfect conclusion, or take your work in a whole new direction.
7. Watch this TED Talk
Novelist, radio show host, fashion designers, and more discuss inspiration in this wonderful series of talks on the creative spark.
The act of mindlessly putting pen to paper is actually wondrous at getting your creative juices bubbling. It’s no surprise, but research suggests that doodling boosts cognitive function and keeps your brain stimulated when you want to check out.
9. Start taking a different way to work
It’s like the old saying, “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get, what you always got.” So if you do not want to stagnate, switch it up. One of the easiest ways to do this is by exploring new routes to your tried and true ones.
10. Make a new recipe
Again, it’s about challenging your brain to think in a new way. Look up a bunch of recipes and test your hand at making them. Who cares if they turn out disgusting, sometimes it’s more about the experience, not the end result.
11. Document your daydreaming
Dreaming helps us work out the thoughts, feelings, and issues that lay just below our consciousness. Daydreaming does very much the same thing. By writing down your daydreams, you will be one step closer to unraveling what might be dampening the creative flames.
12. Do something entirely monotonous, like chopping vegetables or counting something
Creative inspiration strikes when we least expect it. So find a way to get your mind off your work and into something else.
13. Read puns
Call me cheesy, but I love a good pun. They’re clever, funny (sometimes), and make my brain hurt when trying to come up with good ones. Want some punspiration? Check this. And this. And, okay, sure, this, too. Now, I’m done. Not lion.
14. Befriend people who are sarcastic and / or negative
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying go find all of the Negative Nancys of the world and make them your bestie, but there is research that supports not being surrounded by perpetually Positive Pollys will force you to expound your ideas and make them richer. What’s more, people even speculate that feeling sad sparks more creativity á la Vincent Van Gogh, Bob Dylan and John Keats.
15. Make a vision board
Not on board with a vision board? Why? Vision boards are an excellent tool for helping you identify intentions, elicit emotions, and pinpoint perceptions. A vision board is a board with words, images, and drawings that help describe and communicate your ideas. Give it a try.
16. Take a time out and unplug yourself from the world
Self explanatory and no outlets needed. We all know that a little internal recharging and rebooting does wonders for our moods, but also our creative spirits.
17. Get your hands dirty with a DIY project
Working with your hands in the garden, fixing things around the house, or just playing with pipe cleaners is a great way to engage a different part of your brain to ignite the creative spark.
18. Just do something creative everyday
I know, it’s not always easy to find the time and there are deadlines and phone calls and people expecting the world from you and oh, your stomach is rumbling, but establishing a bit of time for yourself to do something creative will return incalculable gains. It’s like Newton’s law, an object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. So, too, will your creativity.
If all 18 of those ideas fail to inspire you, remember this: ““Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightening to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.” ― Chuck Close, Chuck Close
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