How to Boost Your Creativity

Bird's Eye View of the California coast at Big Sur, from a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean
“Bird’s Eye View, Big Sur,” by Carol Schiraldi, 2023, Big Sur, California

It happens to the best of us. Maybe you’ve hit a creative slump and just don’t know what to do to get out of that funk? Or, perhaps you’re looking for new ways to solve old problems and find yourself in a jam. Creativity to the rescue, right? Ah, if only it were that simple. Many times, creativity can’t be summoned. It’s not like all of the artists in the room get together and have a sort of seance where we channel the old beast. No, it doesn’t quite work that way, sorry to tell you. So, what do you do to get the mojo back?

Here are some tips that might help you find your inner creative spark, to rekindle your romance with the imagination, to light a fire under some fantastic fresh new ideas.

Step 1: Talk a Walk

It might sound crazy but transporting yourself to a new environment can work wonders for sparking your creativity. This particular image was taken on a cliff overlooking the ocean, a place I do not often get to explore, and I feel refreshed just glancing at it. If you live in the center of things, maybe go out of town a bit. Even if you can’t get out of town, or go out to explore an ocean, you can make your own “inner ocean” by refreshing your environment. Take a walk in the park, go to places in your town you have not visited recently, find new stomping grounds, get outside and view a new season, all of these things can help spark your creativity. The physical activity of walking, running, riding a bike can also do wonders for your inner creative self.

Step 2: Silence the critics!

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating. We all have an “inner tape recorder” which tells us things like, “No, no, no, you can’t do that!” Maybe it tried to convince us we can’t paint because we are not as good as Monet or we can’t draw or we can’t sing or we can’t…it’s the “We Can’t Chorus” singing that old familiar tune. Silence! OK, so maybe we can’t paint like Monet but we can still paint. We have to known when to silence the tape recorder of doom, make the chorus of “No!” shut up for a spell, and get to work on the yes bits. Critics are great, they have their place, but we need affirmation at times too. Give yourself permission to suck and silence that inner tape recorder for just a few minutes in order to spark your creativity.

Step 3: Switch Media

You might be thinking, “wait, what? Media? But I’m not an artist!” It doesn’t matter. If you usually paint, try picking up a camera. If you usually program in Java, try working in Python. See what I did there? Creativity is not restricted to creative pursuits. Switching media, or the equivalent, can really spark new ideas. You don’t even have to pick up the new media either, sometimes just asking yourself the question, “how would I do this if…” is enough to spark the creative cycle. Try approaching old problems in new ways to reconnect with that spark.

Step 4: Ask Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. What if fish could fly? What if kids were giants and adults were small? What if…ask away! Curiosity and creativity go hand in hand, like chocolate and peanut butter. Speaking of which, somebody once asked the question, “what if I covered by peanut butter in chocolate?” You might strike out and make a culinary disaster, and that would be OK. Don’t let it leave your kitchen, trust the process, and move onto the next great idea. Which brings me to my next suggestion

Step 5: Keep Going!

Don’t stop! The easiest way to win the race is to just never quit. Keep pursuing creativity and you will find it, one way or another, if nothing else, it will find you.

Finally, I am going to leave you with a little secret. This is something I discovered long ago and have held with me ever since. If you do find yourself in a creative slump, there is one thing about all else you should immediately do. Drop what you are doing, stop everything and do this: Enjoy it! Yes, you read that right. Creative slumps don’t last very long. If your brain works like mine, it will be flooding you with new ideas soon enough. If it happened to take a day or two off, enjoy the silence. Take a break. You are a creative person, we are all creative people. It’s lurking deep down inside and it will come back soon enough. In fact, it might not be hiding at all, it might just be busy formulating the next big great idea so, go ahead, enjoy the little break while you can, for the flood gates will open again soon enough.

These are just a few tips that have helped me over the years. Happy to share and I hope you find them useful. Here’s to finding your best, creative self.

Until next time…

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