7 Proven Ways to Boost Creativity
Creativity is a muscle that everyone is born with, but not everyone has trained themselves to use. Humans are creative beings by nature. Even if you’re not painting or serving up a next-level Michelin star quality amuse-bouche in your kitchen, your mind is still working creatively throughout the day by solving problems, processing information, scheduling tasks, coming up with ideas, and making decisions. And you might be using more creative skills at your job than you’re aware of. This is why it’s essential to find ways to boost creativity when you’ve hit a slump.
Creativity might come easier or more naturally for some, just as running does for some people. However, if that’s not you, it doesn’t mean you aren’t creative (or can’t run!). You simply need to train yourself to boost your creativity. Even if you are active in a creative field or hobby, you will need a boost now and then. Your creative muscle needs to be stretched, challenged, pushed past its comfort zone, and put through regular practice to grow stronger.
If you have found yourself in a slump, here are seven proven ways to boost creativity and inspiration to get those creative juices flowing!
- Go for a walk
- Collaborate with others
- Unplug and rest
- Take an interest in something new
- Write down ideas as they come
- Work through The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
- Do something that scares you
1. Go for a walk
If you’re stuck on a problem at work, experiencing a foggy mind, or in a bit of a creative slump, one of the health benefits of walking is that it’s been shown that going for a walk can help clear your mind and boost creativity. While you walk, especially outside in the sunshine, you are giving your mind the creative rest it needs. Indeed, The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1889) wrote, “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”
Walking improves the development of new and novel ideas. These new ideas can be sparked as you walk, but these effects can also extend if you do creative work shortly after. In fact, one study included experiments comparing people trying to come up with new ideas while they were walking or sitting. The results showed that people did far better while walking, especially when outdoors. It was concluded that “walking opens up a free flow of ideas and is a simple way to increase creativity and get physical activity at the same time.”
2. Collaborate with others
Are you feeling stuck in a creative rut? You might be feeling stagnant due to the limits of your own experiences and understanding. If so, you will be able to significantly boost creativity by collaborating with others.
When you collaborate, you add other understandings, experiences, viewpoints, knowledge, and expertise to the discussion. This can help you approach a problem from different angles you wouldn’t have thought of on your own, leading to creative inspiration and new ideas.
In his widely popular book Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill explained how many successful entrepreneurs, such as the billionaire steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie, credit much of their success to depending on a mastermind group of peers in which ideas and expertise were shared. This practice of collaborating with a mastermind group was also exercised by figures of success such as Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Harvey Firestone, together creating a highly influential business mastermind group, calling themselves The Vagabonds.
However, masterminds aren’t relegated only to the business industry. One of the most famous literary mastermind groups was The Inklings, composed of such literary geniuses as J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Charles Williams. Clearly, the collaboration of several great minds together is a recipe for success!
3. Unplug and rest
Whether you realize it or not, you are being bombarded all day with constant information from various sources all fighting for space in your mind. Whether it’s from your coworkers at work, your family members at home, texts, the internet, social media, the news, television, things you read, etc, you are intaking a lot of information all day, every day.
The good news is that your mind is amazing and can process and hold more information than you might be aware of. But just like your body, your mind also needs periods of rest to recover from all that activity.
Have you ever noticed that you seem to do some of your best thinking in the shower? This is because your mind is at rest from distractions while you shower, which aids in thinking by making things more clear. When you are not distracted or actively thinking about something trying to solve a problem, your mind has a chance to wander and daydream. While wandering, your mind is allowed to open up instead of remaining focused on a problem. When this happens, your mind might find alternative solutions to a problem, or simply be open for inspiration to strike. This same mental rest can be achieved while:
- Driving in the quiet of a long commute
- Sitting on an airplane
- Crafting, such as knitting
- Watching the sunset at the park
- Some forms of meditation
- On a solitary weekend camping trip.
4. Take an interest in something new
Are you hitting a creative wall lately? Maybe it’s time to take an interest in something new!
One of the most effective ways to boost creativity is to read. If reading isn’t usually your thing, start small. Read for a specific amount of time (for example, 30 minutes) each day, or commit to a certain number of pages of a book daily, for example, at least 10 pages. In doing so, you’ll find you can easily read at least a book or two every month!
Read to learn more about something you are interested in. This could be anything like your favorite sport, hobby, time period in history, or a biography of someone you admire. Or, read about something you know nothing about and learn something new. Taking an interest in something new, and reading in general, is an excellent way to broaden your perspective. It also adds to the well of knowledge from which you can draw inspiration and creativity. This also translates to new activities as well, like learning chess, taking up an instrument, learning to cook, taking a martial arts class, etc.
5. Write down ideas as they come
Another method you should adopt to boost creativity is to write down any ideas that spark in your mind as they come. Immediately writing down ideas as they come is an excellent way to train your brain to continue to accept new ideas.
When an idea or even a fragment of an idea comes to you, jot it down in a small notebook or journal you carry around, a notes feature or app on your phone, or even a napkin if that’s all you have. This clears your mind to move on to other ideas, while not forgetting the current one. In this way, you can look back and expand on the notes of these ideas when your circumstances are better for focusing on them. Or they might come in handy for problem-solving or inspiration later on when reading through these notes at a later date. “Capture now, evaluate later.”
6. Work through The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron
Creativity and inspiration are closely linked. So when you’re creatively depleted, you feel like you’re in a slump and uninspired. The best way to achieve creative rest and boost creativity is to give your own creativity a break and spend some time seeking things that inspire you. In The Artist’s Way, the definitive manual for unblocking creativity, Julia Cameron instructs that you have an “inspiration tank”, which needs to be refilled when you’ve used it all up. You can do this by taking yourself on “artist dates.” Cameron explains:
“The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic”– think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play. Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing.”
This could be anything that excites you, like a trip to the museum, an art gallery, the zoo, the beach, or a craft store. Or even something as simple as journaling, shopping for gifts, reading a stimulating book, or going for a long walk in a park can help you achieve inspiration and creative rest.
The tips, tricks, methods, and assignments outlined by Julia Cameron in her book have helped thousands of people get through their mental blocks and boost creativity.
7. Do something that scares you
Lastly, if you want to truly boost creativity, do something that scares you. When it comes to creativity, many people box themselves in due to fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, etc. Pushing through and learning to overcome your fears teaches you that you can do anything you set your mind to. This will do wonders for your self-confidence and boost creativity along with it.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go skydiving and jump out of a plane tomorrow; unless that’s your thing, then more power to you! However, it could mean something simple like auditioning for a play, entering your painting in a contest, or striking up a conversation with someone you’re interested in. When you break out of your comfort zone uninhibited by your fears, you will find that the world, and your creativity, open up to you.