There are periods of my life when it seems that my creative well is dried up. No matter what I do, I can’t seem to get a solid idea in my head. My most recent streak of writer’s block inspired me to see what the world’s most creative people do to boost their creative engines. Creativity is a way for us to interact with our environment; and that implies that we are born to be naturally creative beings. Like any skill, though, the flame of creativity will dull after time if not put to use and practiced everyday. Without creativity, we wouldn’t have some of our greatest inventions, innovations, or philosophers (Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Maya Angelou, to name a few). After doing some research, I found that most of the creative thinkers throughout history incorporated rituals and routines into their daily lives to help with their productivity. By incorporating simple rituals into your daily routine, you too, can boost your creativity and live a more fulfilling life.
1. Get Your Butt Moving– Now you can add one more reason to why you should get up and get moving. Exercise, in any form, is great for boosting energy and get your feel good juices flowing. I know if I’m stuck, I’ll harness up my pup and we’ll go for a quick run. This helps get your blood flowing and clear out any negative thinking that can hinder your creative process.
2. Grab a Book– Reading is probably my most favorite activity. It’s the best way to learn something new or get engrossed in a good story and let your imagination run wild. It doesn’t matter what you read as long as you do it. Not into reading? Just start small with a subject matter that interests you. I recommend reading a book on the subject matter that you are interested in, as well as, reading a fun book with a good story. Become an expert in whatever you’re passionate about; and the more you know, the easier creativity will come to you.
3. Listen to Mozart– Albert Einstein was reported to have been listening to Mozart when he came up with some of his greatest ideas. Listening to music can help boost temporal reasoning and develop abstract reasoning (the Mozart effect). I believe any type of music will do as long as it helps you focus. I vary the type I listen to depending on the task.
4. Meditate– Quieting and decluttering our minds is crucial to the creative process. Making time everyday to sit down and just be helps train you to live in the present and when you quiet your monkey brain, your best ideas can come flowing through unhindered. I feel the best time for meditation is in the morning before you begin focusing on the tasks at hand for the day.
5. Do Puzzles– Puzzles help with problem solving and they also help train our brain to look at a problem from various angles. Essentially, they give us practice in creative problem solving. When puzzles throw up roadblocks, we can practice going around the roadblock or solving it, preparing us for focusing on creative tasks.
6. Day Dream– Letting your mind wander, allows for an incubation period for the tasks at hand. Your day dreams may have clues and hidden ideas, so don’t write them off and ignore them. Many great minds have made their greatest discoveries in moments when they were thinking about something else. Think about Isaac Newton and his theory of gravity. When he saw an apple fall from a tree, it sparked a whole revolution in the way we experience our environment.
7. Be Easy On Yourself– It takes time to develop a creative process. Some people are able to create more easily than others but being creative is a part of being human. It takes time to develop your creativity so don’t compare yourself to others and be gentle with yourself when you come up short. Also keeping little to no expectations about the outcome can help take the pressure off of creating and allow you to be absorbed by your passion and enjoy the process.
8. Carry a Little Notebook– This is an awesome idea and I’m glad I adopted it. Carry a little notebook and write down any idea that pops into your head. You never know how these ideas will develop. It will save you the strain of trying to remember, which can be a miracle in times of a creative drought. You can also do this with the notes function on your phone. I like the idea of a notebook better because I feel a little more connected to the process in the physical act of writing it down.
9. Relax– Still stuck? Take a break. Go outside and reconnect with nature. Take a nap. Do anything that will help you relax and get your mind off of things. I like to bake or play with my furry family. Sometimes doing mundane tasks is all the break your brain needs to incubate and create solutions.
10. Clean Up Your Diet– I’m talking about getting rid of sugar, caffeine, alcohol, processed foods, and cigarettes. These are energy zappers and can block the creative flow. I know, I know, I myself struggle with sugar and caffeine but at least cut down and keep it in moderation. When you have more energy the more you can focus and have ideas start popping into your head.
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Photo: K. Troia-Alvarado