‘Teach me how to be creative.’
That was the request of one of my first creative writing students nearly 30 years ago. I still don’t have an answer for her.
Creativity spills out of some people and seems to be a tortuous battle for others. I’m somewhere in the middle. There are days when the ideas, the words, the images just tumble onto the page. There are many more when I stare at a blank screen and make pots of tea to make me feel like I’m doing something useful. Wherever you are on the ‘creativity curve’, there’s always something to make the challenging times a little easier. I’m going to share a few tips that help me to be more creative. Some of them will be familiar to you if you’ve been a creative for a while and I’m hoping some will be new.
Stretch – take a moment and stretch. When you’re in a creative funk you’re likely to be sitting still, hunched up in frustration, or pacing the floor furiously. You need to give yourself permission to step away from whatever isn’t working for you, give your body some attention and reconnect with the bits of you that will probably hurt later because you’re so tense.
Put on some music – maybe dance a little. Connecting with a favourite song and letting your heart and breathing tune into the rhythm will free up your body, mind and soul.
Phone a friend – someone who makes you laugh or think. This is about making connections. Creatives can be solitary folk and we need the stimulation of humans sometimes to stir our creativity.
Take the dog for a walk – borrow a dog if you haven’t got one! Dogs live in the moment and are great for bringing you out of your head and back to the real world for a while. And walking is the fuel you’ll need to kick start your creative brain (don’t take my word for this – there’s good science behind it).
Have a nap – but time yourself and set an intention to write/create the moment you wake up. Set a timer for 20-30 minutes so that you don’t go into a deep sleep and write/create whatever is in your thoughts as you wake up. (You can use deeper sleep techniques as well, but we’ll talk about that in another blog.)
Read – a book or an article or even a cereal packet and then write about whatever thoughts it triggers for you.
Use the Pomodoro technique – set a timer for 20 minutes and write/draw/create without pausing to think or edit. Just get something out and stop when the timer goes off. It’s amazing what a compressed deadline can do.
Keep an ideas box – you can put ‘things’ in it (like buttons, feathers, photos – anything that grabs your attention) or you can keep a pile of unfinished ideas in there. Pull out something at random and create whatever comes to mind first.
Eat something, slowly – focus on the sensations and flavours for five minutes and then create whatever that suggests to you!
There are lots more ideas for stimulating creativity that I’ll share with you but do feel free to chat to me on here or social media to share your own thoughts. I’d love to hear what really works for you and please do share anything that you create as a result of the ideas above!