Does the idea of being creative give you hives? Do you think you aren’t original enough to create something worthy of being called art? Or do you feel you are wasting time because inspiration doesn’t even do a fly-by? Take a deep breath. You are not the rare human who has no creative ideas in your lifetime. Your condition is painfully common. No one taught you how to nurture your creativity. So, take another deep breath and learn ways you can nurture your creativity on your own. Use one or a dozen, or find your own way to nurture the creativity you have inside you.
Give Creativity Time.
Creativity takes time. Think of it as a plant. It starts with a seed that needs nourishment (soil, water, and the right minerals). The seed germinates (timid beginning). It puts down roots and pushes a stem up out into the air, where sunshine nourishes it. With the right environment and the right amount of nourishment, it grows into a strong plant. Too much or too little of even one of those elements and the seedling will die. That’s what happens with your creativity. Give it the right environment and the right nourishment and it will grow. You may never be a Rembrandt or a Beethoven or a Steve Jobs and that’s okay. You will be you. Your creations will be your own.
Follow Your Curiosity.
When you follow your curiosity, you do more than social media. Instead of clicking a like or opening the newest click-bait, open your browser and find out more. That nugget of information you learn may be what inspires your next project.
Unrealized creatives often think they’re too busy to be creative. In a way, they are right. Busyness doesn’t allow the nourishment to get to the creative parts. Being bored allows your brain time to play with your ideas, things you’ve learned or observed. This is often why people will say they come up with their best ideas while doing the dishes or taking a shower.
Find or Make the Right Environment.
Some people turn a corner of their garage or their basement or even a closet into a space to work their creativity. Choosing the space and environment that works for you is important. Unless your superpower is uninterrupted focus, a space that reminds you of your to-do list will always discourage creativity. Need some decorating ideas? Check out my post 7 Ways to Increase Your Creativity Through Workplace Design.
If you have a preschooler or a child under ten handy, play with her. Her imagination isn’t as closed down. Let her direct the play by asking what happens next. Listen to what she says, how she says it, and what she imagines will happen next. Watch how her whole body is engaged in play. Be a Child. It may feel foolish at first, but with practice, you may find playtime to be your most inspiration-filled time.
Do not wait for inspiration. Sit down or go to your workstation and do it. If it’s difficult, try a practice. How do you practice? Depends on your skill or your creative endeavor. You might journal. Try writing a single sentence over and over. You can go back to basics. If you are a knitter, do pearl one, knit one until your fingers insist on doing something else. If you are a stained glass designer, practice cutting glass. Practice straight lines over and over. If you’re a programmer, do a simple on-off routine. If you’re an artist, practice making a single stroke, the same stroke over and over.
Set a timer. Practice for at least five minutes or until your intellect relaxes and allows your creativity to come forward. If, after your time goes off, you still feel stuck or uncreative, take a break. Do something else. Practice again later.
Be Okay with Imperfection.
Focusing on imperfections makes us think negative thoughts about ourselves and our skills and abilities. Those negative thoughts form an association with your creative project. Ultimately, you end up associating creativity with failure. That mindset causes your creativity to shrivel and hide.
Instead, embrace mistakes and failures. You are learning. You are being creative. Those imperfections may be the inspiration you need to step out-of-the-box and be fully creative.
Uncluttered your mind and space. Slow down literally. Be deliberate and mindful. You know creativity needs time to germinate, so spend time in silence. Meditate. Do yoga. Take slow, deep breaths.
Take yourself on a date. Allow yourself time to wander. Get to know yourself with the same curious interest and attention you’d give to a new acquaintance.
Work with Constraints.
Sometimes having limits allows you to be more creative. Only create in a specific place, day, and/or time. Make notes other times but don’t create. Only create in the time and place you determine. Train your muse to grow toward the light.
Set yourself a challenge. For example: have two or three jars with slips of paper in them. The papers in one jar identify a medium, such as paint, music, glass, etc. Another set of papers identifies things: flowers, chair, fruit, etc. The third set identifies colors. Take one slip from each, then create something that combines those three things.
Think Outside the Box.
Foster an open mindset. Don’t allow so-called experts to dictate “THE way” to be creative. Be willing to explore options and possibilities. Stretch yourself by seriously considering how to create your most outrageous options.
Challenge yourself to approach a project from different viewpoints. Can’t come up with different viewpoints. Try the thinking hats method.
Dr. Edward de Bono, a Maltese physician, psychologist, author, inventor and broadcaster, wrote a book called Six Thinking Hats. It uses deliberate role playing to make you approach a problem differently. Dr. de Bono’s strategy involves six “thinking hats:”
- WHITE HAT: neutral and objective, This role is concerned only with facts and figures.
- RED HAT: the emotional view. Explore your feelings. How does this idea, technique or outcome make you feel?
- BLACK HAT: careful and cautious, the “devil’s advocate” hat. This is the role that looks at all the negatives or cautions.
- YELLOW HAT: sunny and positive. Wearing this hat, one looks at only the positive benefits.
- GREEN HAT: associated with fertile growth, creativity, and new ideas. In this role any new idea is a good one.
- BLUE HAT: cool, the color of the sky, above everything else-the organizing hat. This is the role that sees the big picture or process.
Try acting out these different viewpoints or hats on your ideas. Sometimes one or two responses will give you an answer. Sometimes all of them in combination inspire new and exciting ways to approach your creative project.
Open your senses to fully experience a new place. It will be like a deep breath of fresh air to your creative brain.
Explore new ideas in your area of creativity or in a completely unrelated field. New ideas are fodder for your creative brain to chew on.
Try different or new-to-you creative materials or techniques.
Try a new type of creativity. For example if you are a painter, try knitting. If you are a musician, try sketching. A programmer might try sculpting with modeling clay.
Do a special activity or treat for yourself once a week. Experiment with a different one each week.
Make Nurturing a Routine
Nurturing your creativity needs to be part of your routine. Daily or weekly routines would be helpful but whatever you choose to do make it more about quality than quantity. Choose nurturing activities that resonate with you. Activities that you enjoy or excite you. Soon, your creativity will blossom into more ideas than you ever imagined.
All it needs is a little love and attention.
How are you going to nurture your creativity this week?
Edward de Bono, Six Thinking Hats.
Psychology Today, “How to Nurture Creativity by Savoring Your Time”
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