Creativity in a Can
Creativity. It is difficult to define and measure, but we use it every day. I’ve been wanting to write about techniques to boost creativity for a while, and it wasn’t until all the great feedback we received from the piece on conquering writer’s block that I decided to actually tackle creativity head-on. After all, how do you tackle the prospect of teaching a subject that is as subjective as creativity? The answer is that creativity is not something that can be taught, but it is something that can be cultivated if you know how. There might be things that you do have control over that could influence your creativity. To that end, I put together a guide that I hope will help you be as creative as possible.
Sometimes the creative juices will only flow when you sit back and relax. Some people take relaxation to new heights, and while we certainly cannot advocate some of the more extreme (and potentially illegal) ways to relax, all we can say is that do what works for you. The point is that many copywriters (and people in general) succumb to tunnel vision and focus too hard or something that they are not able to accomplish, and the only way around that is to change things up. If you just work and work without relaxing, you are going to burn out. Also remember the old axiom: doing the same thing again and again while expecting different results is unreasonable.
If what you are doing does not feel like it is developing your creative side, then you need to intentionally slow down. Sometimes that is all that it takes. Other times you will need to combine this step with other ideas.
Go to a Museum or Art Gallery
Go to a place that already has lots of art or something else that you find inspirational. Museums often have examples of what geniuses of different kinds can accomplish, even if it is categorizing bones to long-extinct animals or translating some lost language. Appreciate the work for what it is, and take time to understand that gravity of the challenge involved. Being around inspirational examples of what people can accomplish is a great way to get the creative juices flowing. There are some alternatives to this that are more practical for those who do not happen to live near a great museum or art gallery:
- Online museums/art galleries. Some of the best art in the world is accessible from all over the world, 24/7. Remember to donate.
- Directories of quotes. “A man who view the world the same way at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” Muhammad Ali was a lot smarter than many gave him credit for. See which quotes move you, and consider the source too!
- Magazines and other periodicals. I happen to like Reader’s Digest and a few particularly low-brow websites dedicated to translation errors.
- Music. I really love Pandora and iTunes.
Regardless of which of these options you choose, try spending time reviewing old favorites with a fresh eye as well as acquiring new favorites. If all you do is listen to the same music while viewing the same art, then sooner or later you are going to end up feeling somewhat stale from a creative standpoint.
Some of the greatest authors and thinkers in history draw clear inspiration from the natural splendor of the world around them. Did you ever hear about the time the Hemingway locked himself inside of a dark room for 19 months and ordered take-out to finish his greatest masterpiece? No? Neither have I! Why? Because he knew the value of getting outside and experiencing the real world.
Inactivity is not likely to breed creativity. Get out and do something! Meet new people, try things you never thought you would do (but keep it legal people!), and/or try doing things differently. Go to work the same way every single day? Change it up! Anyone with a child knows that brain synapses that are not used die and those that are used develop. A portion of your brain is just waiting to be developed, but that will only happen when you start to offer yourself new challenges. Here are some ideas:
- Take a class. Many community colleges offer great classes at affordable rates. Indulge yourself and your brain will start developing new connections that could result in creativity.
- Network. New friends equals new experiences, so be willing to reach out to new people when you want to refill your creative can.
- Do something you would never normally do…just keep it legal and safe. Again, if you do the same things that you always do and expect different results, you might want to check your logic. One good idea is to have a friend or family member suggest something that they never thought you would do, such as take a class in Karate, or enter a pie eating contest. Just keep it safe and legal, but try to grow as a person and you will note that your mind will respond with new observations and points of view that will in turn boost your capacity for creative thought.
- Exercise. Vigorous exercise gets trhe3 blood flowing to the brain, and proper breathing means that the blood rushing to the brain is carrying heightened levels of oxygen. This can make your mind sharper than normal. I personally do some of my best thinking and planning at the end of a grueling weight lifting session, when I hop on the elliptical and start pushing myself hard.
- Spend Time at Home. Family is important, and too many of us spend too much time working for our families but not enough time living our lives with our families. Rectify this and you might suddenly feel a creativity-oppressing cloud lift from your brain. Some call this guilt, others call it responsibility, but I call it a creativity blocker.
Your Suggestions Please
What are your best suggestions for boosting creativity? Was there anything that we left off the list, or that you view in a different way? We’d love to hear what you have, and other readers probably would too! Please feel free to share in our comments section, and know that doing good deeds (such as helping others cultivate creativity) is often a sign of a creative mind.
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