According to a 2012 study conducted by Adobe, people are struggling to develop creativity. Only a quarter of respondents felt that they were living up to creative potential and the majority of people felt education and work were stifling creative efforts rather than enhancing them. With this grim outlook, how can a writer hope to unleash creativity?
Here are six easy ways you can break the production cycle associated with the modern work place and boost your creativity for writing or problem solving.
1. Take an Art or Craft Class
Getting down and dirty with color and lines is a great way to force your mind off the straightforward path. Whether you indulge in an evening of fun painting lessons or take advantage of a scrapbooking class at the library, creating within a controlled and social environment can prime your pumps for later writing.
You can often find low-cost or free arts and crafts classes at the local library, community college or hobby store.
2. Take the 20 Minute Challenge
When you wake up in the morning, before you do anything else, sit down to write. Well, perhaps you’ll do a few things. Make yourself comfortable and possibly, brew a quick cup of coffee. Hit the computer or notebook before anyone else wakes up, before you make breakfast, and before all the worries of life railroad your creativity.
Set a timer for twenty minutes and start writing. It doesn’t matter what you write. Describe the previous evening, vent about an argument, write a scene or part of a story, or use a writing prompt. The key is to flex your writing muscles and unleash creativity for the rest of the day.
3. Use Bubble Brainstorming
You can help develop a more creative response by forcing your mind to push its limits. People use things like Sudoku to enhance concentration or memory. You can brainstorm to enhance your imagination.
Start with a blank piece of paper. On it, write the first word that comes to mind. Draw lines away from that word and write new words that are related to the first word. Keep going, creating an ever larger and outwardly growing circle of words.
Try to think of words that are related in odd ways. Choose a few related words and the most absurd relationship between them and start writing a short story. You don’t have to finish it, but coming up with words and ideas is a great way to unleash creativity.
4. Unlock Your Box
As a writer, you may have a certain expectation about yourself and your work. Your own expectations could be boxing in your creativity. Recently, I read a blog post about Jeff Kinney, the author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid book series (affiliate). Apparently, Mr. Kinney originally wanted to create comics. When that didn’t work out according to expectation, he unleashed his creativity and created an award-winning series of books.
You shouldn’t give up on your dreams, but you do need to peek outside of the box. If you try to emulate a certain style, tie yourself to a certain genre, or fail to see opportunities when they arise, you stifle your own creative production.
5. Read, Read, Read
This is the advice most offered to new writers. No doubt, you’ve heard, “If you want to write, you have to read.” The obvious benefits of reading include learning the craft, developing an understanding of style, and getting examples of things you would like to do or don’t want to do. Reading can also help with creativity.
Reading on a wide range of topics offers mental stimulation, new ideas, and loads of information. When you feed your mind in this manner, it will begin dicing up all these bits and may churn out surprisingly complex and creative concepts down the road.
6. Enjoy Some Music
Certain sounds are scientifically proven to promote brain activity. This is why educational experts recommend raising toddlers up on an auditory diet of Mozart. Even if you don’t like the classics, find some music that gets your mind rolling and listen to it when you feel creativity waning.
You can also purchase specially engineered soundtracks made up of isochronic tones and binaural beats. Supposedly, these tracks are specifically created to increase brain functions. They are more noise than music, however, so you will have to decide whether the creativity boost is worth the possible distraction.
One thing you should always keep in mind is that everyone is capable of creativity. It might come easier to some people, but so does basketball. However, focus and persistence often beats out natural talent in the world of sports as well as the world of writing. You just need to find the right time and way to unleash creativity for your work.
What time of day do you feel like you are most creative?