Have you ever been stuck in a creative rut? It can be hard! That blank piece of paper stares back up at you, taunting you to come up with something brilliant… your problem dances around in your head and no solution seems adequate…
Why is it that some people seem to be an endless fountain of creativity while others struggle to find brief moments of illumination when everything flows? And why do we have moments of creativity? Why can’t it be constant?
We tend to think of “creative types” as being some special breed of human that can churn out brilliance when the rest of us produce meaningless doodles. Not so! Creativity is a SKILL. Yes, that’s right. You can certainly have moments of unusually bountiful creativity, but you can train yourself to be creative anytime, in any application.
How to spark creativity and make it a normal, common way of thinking and being:
1. Stimulate inspiration. Get out of your usual environment; or learn to see ordinary things and situations differently. Read and stimulate your curiosity. Sometimes, you will have a flash of inspiration out of nowhere (act on it!!!) and sometimes you have to get to work feeling totally uninspired, and be open to inspiration.
The brain has an area called the superior anterior temporal gyrus, located on the surface of the right hemisphere. The job of this area is to take distantly related information and bring it together. What stimulates this area of the brain? Besides brain teasers like word association, meditate. If you’re new to meditation, learn how in the Silva Method! 30 minutes of meditation every day will de-stress you and stimulate the brain. Then, your ‘flashes of inspiration’ will come more frequently and you’ll recognize them for the problem-solving answers they are instead of dismissing them as imagination.
2. Be a beginner. Beginners have no preconceived notions of how things are supposed to be, and they have no clue how to get ‘there’ (to the point of achievement).They are curious and interested in the process more than the achievement.
We tend to get caught up in our “expertness”. We believe that because of what we’ve learned and experienced in the past, means we have to always create using the same methods. But often, it’s an outsider perspective, that naive and unskilled point of view that might offer up some wildly creative solution that the ‘experts’ would never have considered.
How do you pretend to be a beginner when you have years and years of training behind you? Ask basic, naive questions. “How does that work? How did we get from A to B?” Try something silly like looking a problem in a novel way, like upside down; or with one eye closed; or writing with your opposite hand. You’ll be surprised at how challenging your brain like this will force you to think outside your normal ways!
3. JOURNAL Sir Richard Branson carries a notebook with him because ideas often come in the most bizarre places and times – when they’re least expected and especially when it’s impossible to do anything about them. Write down ideas as they come to you because they will have vaporized by the time you remember you had a cool idea. Then you have a source of inspiration in your journal. One idea always leads to another!
4. Meditate. Stress stifles creativity. A stressed mind is focused on problems, NOT solutions. Get out of that frenzied state of mind and relax using the Silva Method relaxation exercises. Your thinking will become clearer when you’re not stressed. One benefit of meditation is that although it teaches you to focus, it also teaches you to unfocus. You soften your gaze (release your imagination from the constraints of logic and reasoning) look at the problem from the perspective of achievement, and ALLOW a solution to come to you.
5. Daydream. Allow yourself to drift off to la-la land every day. 10 minutes of daydreaming will often result in inspired ideas.
6. Get to work. Just start. Writers with writer’s block will often look at a dictionary, pick out a word, and start writing random stream-of-consciousness junk until something starts to make sense. The ‘get to work’ type of creativity is not always fun or glamorous. It’s tedious and boring, frustrating and humbling. But think of it this way: your brain is cluttered up with a lot of unnecessary junk, and mindless scribbling and doodling is like clearing the cache! Get rid of the junk by giving it life on paper; get it out of your head; and your creativity will come back!
7. Cast a wide net. Diversify your interests! You don’t have to become an expert in every field but expose yourself to a wide variety of experiences and new information. It’s very stimulating! Then your mind will collect seemingly random and unrelated information and connect the dots to come up with absolutely brilliant ideas. You never know where you’ll find inspiration for a great logo; or a way to solve your financial troubles. The more raw data you have in your memory banks, the more your mind has to work with to solve ANY problem you have.
8. Let go of your fear of failure! Sometimes, ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ is the best approach – especially so when you perceive ‘failure’ as a teacher. See failure in a positive light and you’ll be less inhibited to try anything innovative.
9. Take the playful and inquisitive attitude of children. Play with your problem. Pretend a solution. Make-believe something out of nothing. Have fun working, doodling, scribbling, testing and experimenting. Because creating something out of nothing is the essence of creativity.
Which tip should you use to approach a given problem or project? Listen to your intuition. Develop your intuitive abilities using the Silva Method and simply ask yourself, “what is the best way to go about solving this problem (or coming up with an idea to…)?” Don’t worry about the details – just FEEL which approach might yield the best results.