Creativity is essential for any profession (whether you’re working for yourself or someone else) or even pastime (perhaps with the exception of TV-watching). It’s a major contributor to one’s success. But sometimes people simply get stumped. The ideas stop flowing, and the well becomes empty. For most of us, a creative drought isn’t just frustrating, it’s demoralizing.
In her book, 12 Secrets of Highly Successful Women: A Portable Life Coach for Creative Women, author Gail McMeekin writes: “We know we are creative beings. Yet we are also very aware that sometimes our creativity stalls, plays tricks on us, or appears to have vanished completely.”
In her book, McMeekin provides readers with a variety of activities to help boost their creativity. Here are some ideas from her book to get you started, inspired and on your way to never experiencing a dry spell again.
Follow Your Intuition
McMeekin believes that intuition is critical for creativity. She defines intuition as “your internal information and feeling source. It is an inner library of physical and emotional cues that can direct you onto the right avenue.”
She gives an example of a woman who trusted her intuition when taking a different exit on her way home. As she followed the unfamiliar road, she came across a building with a “For Sale” sign. The space precisely matched her vision for a gourmet shop she dreamed of opening. “Here was her dream in reality; the rest was up to her.” McMeekin says to “follow your whims and see where they lead.”
Reconcile Deserted Dreams
What can hold some people back from cultivating their creativity or embarking on other projects is the past. So it’s important to make peace with your “cast-off dreams” in order to move forward.
To do so, McMeekin suggests creating a list of all the things you wanted to do in your life but never did. Ask yourself if you’re still interested in these activities, and think back to what your intuition told you then and what it’s telling you now about these dreams.
“Note any patterns that are still possible or an enduring vision that you want to manifest.” Also, consider what you can learn from your mistakes.
Overcome Creativity Fears
McMeekin writes, “Fear is a component of risk and risking is essential to creativity.” But successful individuals aren’t fearless. They’ve just learned to minimize or work through their fears.
To manage your fears, McMeekin suggests readers record past “creative traumas” that still rule their lives. “What do you fear from your internal critic and others? What person(s) from your past criticized your ideas and actions?” (She asks another powerful question: “Are you living your life for them or for yourself?”)
She shares her own fears of writing and how she deals with these fears:
When I get scared to write, I pick up a book called Walking on Alligators: A Book of Meditations for Writers by Susan Shaughnessy. Writing often feels dangerous to me, and reading about another writer’s similar terrors helps me to forget my doubt and just start typing…Figure out what solutions will most help your fear to stay in the background, and use them.
Turn to Creativity-Boosting Techniques
These are several “creativity catalysts” that McMeekin recommends to get your creative juices continuously flowing.
- Keep what McMeekin calls a “daily excitement list.” Here, you simply write anything that excites you, whether it’s a color, person or word. You can even ask someone to help you find themes or patterns in your list.
- Take a field trip to a place that relates to a part of your project.
- As you start working, play music that inspires you and “resonates with your project.”
- Visualize what your finished project looks like, and create a collage of images that reflects this.
- Identify an object that symbolizes your creative process and keep it with you whenever you’re working or brainstorming. In another part of the book, McMeekin mentions having a symbol that represents your success. For instance, one of her clients sees success as a “wild kangaroo running free in Australia.” For another client, success is a “cushy lounge chair.”
- “Look for metaphors—how is your proposal like an artichoke or a trolley car?”
- Work on your project in a new space, whether that’s in another room, a museum or outside.
- Find someone to play devil’s advocate with you. Talk to this person about your project, and ask them to challenge your ideas.
- Look at other things that remind you of your project, such as paintings or products.
- “Exercise regularly to clear your head.” (Remember that exercise can be joyful, if you pick physical activities that you truly love!)
What are your favorite creativity-boosting techniques?
What do you think is a must for creativity?