February 8, 2013 – Everyone is born with the ability to be creative; some of us just relish it more than others. Whether you’re a budding Rembrandt or a seasoned financial analyst, we all need to break free from mental ruts, shake things up and spark new ideas. Here are 10 tried and true methods that help me.
1. Listen to different style music than you normally would. Classical works for me not only because I have trouble concentrating on what I’m doing if I listen to music with lyrics (I often want to sing along) but I get lost in the melody of classical music and I begin to daydream, which is always good for finding that creative spark.
2. Be positive. We are all capable of doing great things; we just need to recognize that ability in ourselves and practice, practice, practice. Also, banishing negative thoughts makes you feel better, which gives you a natural creative boost.
3. Do something different. A change of pace is good for you and it shakes up your brain cells. Go for a walk, visit a new place and talk to people you don’t know. Urban areas, like center city Philadelphia, for example, are great locations to people watch, and observe the unexpected and interesting. Doing something different often gives you a new perspective, which opens you to new ideas.
4. Brainstorm. When I worked in marketing and advertising, we had a rule that there were no bad ideas when brainstorming. That’s because even the lesser ideas could spark brilliant ones. Brainstorming not only helps you come up with a list of ideas, but it also helps you pinpoint which ones are best.
5. Be prepared. Carry a small notebook and pen with you wherever you go, and keep one by your bed in case you want to jot down your dreams. That way, you’re always ready for a creative idea when inspiration strikes. Like brainstorming, this may lead to some ideas that are less than perfect, but they also may help you strike creative gold.
6. Read. Reading always provides for the possibility of new ideas, so I try to take in as much as I can. Reading is also a good exercise for the brain. If you keep your brain in shape, it will be good to you when you need it most.
7. Take risks. Being creative is often far more interesting if it’s a little risky. My blog posts that have garnered the most attention are those that I felt a little unsure about at first, but in the spirit of taking a risk I published anyway.
8. Act like a kid. No one is more creative than a child. If you have children, you’ve probably learned that by now. Even if you don’t have children, play on swings, finger paint, or and blow bubbles (my favorite). Acting like a child makes me happy, which like being positive, is a boost to my creative spirit.
9. Join a creative group. Nearly every community has their share of film, reading, writing or even knitting clubs to join. Visiting with others who share your creative passion on a regular basis can be motivating. Plus, it provides an excellent means of gaining encouragement from others in the group.
10. Be curious. Somehow along the line, curiosity got a bad name. I asked so many questions when I was growing up, my mother often asked if I was writing a book. Sure, she was being sarcastic, but the mere suggestion made me actually want to do just that. And it all stemmed from curiosity. I continue to ask a lot of questions as an adult, especially if I am interested in something. And I haven’t killed a cat yet.