Make it a habit
As Charles Duhigg writes in his book, The Power of Habit, “there’s nothing you can’t do if you get the habits right.” If writing, knitting, baking, or any other form of creativity is something you want to cultivate, change how you think of them. Instead of your creative pursuits being “if you have time for them” activities, engage in them on a regular basis.
Give your brain time off
Ticking off items on a to-do list is great for your productivity, but perhaps less inspiring for your creativity. It’s a cliché that rings true that great ideas often spark in the shower, on a walk, or while sleeping. The reason for this is very likely that these are moments when phones are out of hands, eyes aren’t staring at screens or papers, and emails aren’t being written. With this freedom, the brain can attack problems in new ways. Give yourself time each day to daydream and an outpouring of ideas and creativity may be the result.
In the best-selling creativity kick-starter, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron has writing – preferably in the morning – as a required activity for reclaiming creativity and the artist within. These stream-of-consciousness pages, written in longhand, are not intended to be read by anyone. She recommends writing them regardless of your creative pursuit; this morning ritual is a way to get out the self-doubt, and tap into your creativity. This daily writing jumpstarts your brain, and demolish the barriers – such as self-doubt, responsibilities, and obligations – that stand between you and your creativity and creative pursuits.
Make creative friends
If you find yourself too often around people who think in spreadsheets, try to make some new acquaintances and friends who prioritize creative activities. Think about taking a class, being part of a workshop, or just joining a meet-up to bring creative people into your life. Meeting new people while traveling is also a window into a different way of thinking and engaging in life that can spark new ideas and creative opportunities.
Embrace your inner Stuart Smalley
It’s so easy to think negatively about your own creativity, accomplishments, and output. Stop that! Make it a habit to label your creative pursuits as being worthwhile and meaningful both mentally and to others in your life. Limit the comparisons you make between yourself and other creatives, since as the proverb goes, “comparisons are odious.”
Absorb culture and art
To make art, you have to appreciate art. Go to readings, museums, nature walks – wherever there is art in the world, spend time with it. Find inspiration from the work of others. As Cameron writes in The Artist’s Way, “spending time in solitude with your artist child is essential to self-nurturing” and engaging with art is “opening yourself to insight, inspiration, guidance.”
According to studies, people who exercise are more likely to “do better on tests of creativity than their more sedentary peers.” So spend sometime at the gym, jogging outside, or taking that weekly barre or Pilates class; not only will you benefit your physical health, but you’ll improve your creative thinking.
Learn something new
Do you think of yourself as an artist? Try writing, painting, welding, or sculpting. Enjoy crafting? Learn a new craft. Opening your brain to new experiences and forcing yourself to expand the list of things you’re capable of doing is a great way to get your synapses firing.
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