According to James Ogilvy:
“Too much of our work amounts to the drudgery of arranging means toward ends, mechanically placing the right foot in front of the left and the left in front of the right, moving down narrow corridors toward narrow goals.
Play widens the halls. Work will always be with us, and many works are worthy. But the worthiest works of all often reflect an artful creativity that looks more like play than work.”
Sharpening your innovative skills means inviting some playful work. Make no mistake, cultivating creativity takes hard work, but it can be incredibly fun and rewarding.
These playful yet practical creativity-boosting exercises can help! These tips come courtesy of various sources: some from renowned writers and others culled from interesting psychology experiments.
Without further ado, here are over 40 ways to help your creativity bloom.
1. Gretchen Rubin, who blogs at The Happiness Project, lists 12 creativity exercises from American writer Dorothea Brande, who composed these tips way back when in 1936. I’d say these are my favorites because they help you stretch that creative thinking:
“2. Think for 30 minutes a day about one subject exclusively. Start with five minutes.
3. Write a letter without using the words I, me, mine, my.
4. Talk for 15 minutes a day without using I, me, my, mine.
12. From time to time, give yourself a day when you answer “yes” to any reasonable request.”
2. Activities that we’ve come to regard as creativity truths are anything but, according to Newsweek, which says, for instance, that brainstorming in a group actually impedes innovation. Instead, the article features seven techniques that do perk up the creative process, including physical activity, limiting TV time and even exploring other cultures.
3. The British Psychological Society’s Research Digest blog reported on interesting research that shows that shifting your eyes horizontally back and forth for 30 seconds can boost creativity. (Apparently, it helps with communication between both hemispheres.)
4. Listening to others discuss their perspectives on creativity can be very inspiring. One of my favorite ways to get inspired and spurred to action is to listen to TED talks on creativity. (I love this one! You’ll see classical music in a new light and maybe even life. Yes, it’s that powerful, I promise.)
5. Try Image Streaming, a simple activity where you just sit back and transcribe the images that come to your mind in great, vivid detail. You might use a tape recorder or ask a friend to listen to you.
6. The Scientific American lists off seven ways to sharpen your different “brainsets” or brain activation states. In her book, Your Creative Brain: Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination, Productivity and Innovation in Your Life, Harvard psychologist Shelley Carson outlines these brainsets, which cleverly spell out CREATES. One tip from the piece: setting a timer for five minutes and tuning into your surroundings by listening, seeing, smelling, tasting and touching (something many of us rarely do in the midst of our multitasking, distraction-driven ways).
7. Undoubtedly, creative thinking can be difficult, especially when we stand in our own way. This blog post reviews 10 mental blocks to creative thinking and how we can bust through them. While this isn’t exactly playful, these blocks can easily extinguish your creativity fire, so it helps to know how to overcome them.
8. According to psychology research, reading absurd writing, blending opposites and reconceptualizing a problem can help tremendously with enhancing creativity. PsyBlog writes about these and other unusual science-based creativity-boosting techniques.
9. Research also shows the value of developing psychological distance in cultivating creativity. Here, a psychology professor reveals recent research that suggests this simple activity helps spark innovation.
10. Forbes provides a 4-step process for building creativity in the corporate world: shaking off stereotypes about creativity; observing and tapping into four specific areas such as trends and people; promoting a creative environment; and rewarding innovative thinking. This article is designed specifically for marketing mavens but everyone can take away some good ideas, regardless of your profession.
What are some of your favorite creativity-boosting activities? What helps you get those creative juices churning?