Like any skill, creativity needs to be nursed. As writer and stylist Erin Loechner said, “You get what you give.” The more time you spend actively engaging your creativity, the greater your chances of producing exciting and inventive ideas and projects. (And the more fun you have, too!) Here are eight practical ways to help your imagination blossom.
1. Raise your endorphins.
“I find that when my blood is pumping, my creative juices really thrive,” said Loechner, also author of Design for Mankind, an art and design blog. For instance, she likes to take long walks and listen to music.
2. Challenge your brain.
Problem-solving is a key part of creativity. To sharpen her problem-solving skills, Brittni Melhoff likes brainteasers. Melhoff is the founder of papernstitch, a curated exhibition site for artists and makers to showcase their work, and editor of the papernstitch blog. She does a variety of puzzles, word problems, crosswords and anagrams. She recommended readers check out the book Brain Games. Or you can find free games online.
3. Chart your own path.
Years ago, as a mom of young kids, Nellie Jacobs, a bestselling author, award-winning artist and creativity consultant, felt really isolated. After talking with many moms who felt the same way, she started a bi-weekly group for moms and their kids called Creating Together in her basement.
Charting your own creative path helps you open doors you might’ve never known existed. Discussions in Jacobs’s playgroup led to the creation of a national quarterly called MAMMA, which focused on issues for moms at home. That led to a cable TV producer inviting Jacobs to develop and co-host a weekly interview show called MAMMA Speaks Out.
4. Let creativity permeate all areas of your life.
“Choose to see everything from a creative viewpoint,” Jacobs said. For instance, if you experience a sad or unpleasant event, channel that into a book or film, she said.
5. Study others.
Jacobs suggested that readers simply observe people. Figure out what makes others tick, she said. “The more you learn about other people, the more you learn about yourself, your personal resources and creative capabilities.”
6. Play the opposite game.
“When looking for creative solutions, focus on doing things the opposite of how you would normally do them,” said life coach and artist Tiffany Moore. This keeps your creativity on its toes.
Playing the opposite game also means taking a different perspective. “Instead of seeing a situation as a burden, [consider] how [you can] look at it as an opportunity,” Moore said. “If there’s something you dread, try to think—even if it seems impossible—about how you can bring some fun into the situation.” Ask yourself what you can do differently to shake things up, she said.
7. Take creativity to the next level.
If you’d like to explore your creativity further, Jacobs suggested considering a post-graduate degree in creativity, attending creativity conferences or joining a creativity association.
For instance, Buffalo State offers a post-doc in creativity at the International Center for Studies in Creativity. The Creative Problem Solving Institute is hosting a conference in June 2012 in Atlanta, Ga. Jacobs is a member of the Creativity Coaching Association, which offers a certification program along with a variety of resources to help cultivate creativity. There’s even an entire week dedicated to creativity called the World Creativity and Innovation Week from April 15-21.
(She also suggested checking out the site Creativity Portal.)
8. Remember that creativity is a personal thing.
As Melhoff said, “What works for me may not work for you, and vice versa.” So how do you know what does work? “Stay in tune with your own body and mind and understand how you can cultivate your own creative life,” she said. Specifically, Melhoff suggested figuring out the time of day you’re most creative along with which activities ignite your imagination.