Many people think you’re either a creative person or you’re not. While I agree that some people may be slightly more predisposed to thinking creatively than others, I think creativity is a muscle that can be exercised and improved upon.
1. Consume content that’s way outside your comfort zone
We all love reading about stuff in our industry, but typically this doesn’t boost creativity. If you’re lucky, it might help with motivation or inspiration. If you want to get your creative juices flowing, start consuming content you wouldn’t normally consume. Read blogs outside of your industry. Read books outside of your normal genre of choice.
2. Write a 500 word article with no topic whatsoever.
This is a fun exercise I use when I can’t seem to get my thoughts focused or come up with interesting ideas. I’ll open a blank document and just start typing. No headline, no topic, no editing, and most importantly no self-critiquing. Just let your fingers start typing and let your brain decide what words get written next.
3. Go see a movie in a movie theater.
Movies on the big scene are one of the last few places you can enjoy a complete sensory-captive experience. The giant bright screen. The sound-rumbling surround sound. The smell and taste of freshly popped popcorn. The somewhat uncomfortable seat with plastic armrests that don’t move.
4. Take a phone call with someone you don’t know.
Hearing someone’s story that’s completely new to you can be an eye-opening and mind-expanding experience. Maybe you’ll learn something from them? Maybe they’ll give you a new perspective you’ve never heard about your stuff? Maybe they’ll drop knowledge bombs on you?
5. Eat differently.
There are studies upon studies that discuss how our diet affects the way we think. Want to start thinking differently? Start giving your body different (and healthier) fuel. You’d be shocked how much more creatively you can think and act when you eat a healthier diet.
6. Do the “No Bad Ideas Brainstorming” exercise.
Get at least one other person to join you for a 45-60 minute brainstorming session. No technology and no criticism whatsoever. Bring a topic or idea you want to brainstorm to the table, and just start riffing on it back and forth. Write down all your ideas (on actual paper) and don’t critique a single idea. It’s important to do this in person and to make absolutely sure you don’t have any negative energy or feedback throughout the process. You may end up with 100 horrible ideas, but I bet you’ll have one or two good ones. Plus, you’ll get better at this the more you do it.
7. Reward Your Curiosity
One common roadblock to developing creativity is the sense that curiosity is an indulgence. Rather than reprimanding yourself for following an internet rabbit hole, reward yourself when you are curious about something. Give yourself the opportunity and the time to explore new topics.
Rewarding yourself is important, but developing intrinsic motivation is also crucial. Sometimes, the true reward of creativity is the process itself, not the product.
8. Take Risks
When it comes to building your creative skills, you must be willing to take risks to advance your abilities. Although your efforts may not lead to success every time, you will still be boosting your creative talents and building skills that will serve you well in the future.
For example, sharing your work in a creative writing course might feel intimidating. But the critique you receive from classmates and teachers can be invaluable.
9. Build Your Confidence
Insecurity in your abilities can suppress creativity, which is why it is important to build confidence. Note your progress, commend your efforts, and always be on the lookout for ways to reward your creativity.
10.Fight Fear of Failure
The fear that you might make a mistake or fail in your efforts can paralyze progress. Whenever you find yourself harboring such feelings, remind yourself that mistakes are simply part of the process. While you may occasionally stumble on your path to creativity, you will eventually reach your goals.