6 Ways to Supercharge your Creativity
There is a myth that creative people are not disciplined and they have no boundaries but this is not entirely true. A lot of great writers write every single day no matter what. Andre Previn famously said “If I miss a day of practice I know it, if I miss two days my manager knows it, if I miss three days the audience knows it.”
I have become very interested on the subject of creativity for the past two years and read quite a few books on it. The latest I have read is the wonderful book Wired to Create by Carolyn Gregoire and Scott Barry Kaufman. This book gives hope that all of us can enhance our creativity and more importantly it clearly shows how to do it as well. It was a great read.
Here is a great take on creativity from Picasso “A painting is not thought out and settled in advance. While it is being done, it changes as one’s thoughts change. And when it’s finished, it goes on changing, according to the state of mind of whoever is looking at it.”
Here are the 6 ways to super-charge your creativity that I liked from the book with my take and experiences on each.
Imaginative Play – I think creativity is generating enough ideas that can be implemented. It is also important to understand when we get ideas. Usually we don’t get creative ideas while sitting in front of the computer. For this reason it is important to schedule recreational activities because that’s when you get great ideas. For me working out on the elliptical is something I really enjoy, reading and writing also sparks ideas. The main idea is to make play your friend to generate creative ideas. First you have to believe creativity is your birth right and then take action towards achieving it on a daily basis. “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” Plato
Passion – All artists are passionate. Is passion something that can be manufactured? I don’t think so but I think the first step is to get excited about your life. I mean get really excited as this would start helping you dream big things for your life. Passion also has to be married with competence. Even if you are passionate about singing but you don’t have any competence there passion will not help. Creative people are passionate about what they do think of Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci and many other artists. Start with getting passionate about your work and then identify one area in your personal life which you can get excited about. Spend a good time on that activity in your spare time and you will become creative automatically. Keep searching on what makes your heart sing and pursue that with dogged determination and passion. The example mentioned about Yo-Yo Ma in the book should inspire us. The authors write “He asked his parents for a bigger instrument after trying his hand at the violin and viola. From there the speed with which he learned how to play took off at a breathtaking pace. By age five he was performing for audiences, and at the age of seven he took the stage to serenade for Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F.Kennedy.”
Daydreaming – This is a good suggestion. Allow your mind to drift. You can take a short break when you are working on something intense which will allow the mind to drift and retain its bearing. Just a slight distraction from your routine can be relaxing and makes your mind sharp. Again this is not a recommendation to waste hours together on daydreaming. It is just one way to trigger creativity. You have to be really aware on what triggers your creativity and then proceed to do those activities which can help with this. Another key insight is a lot of creatives took long walks to spark creativity. One example is Immanuel Kant’s daily routine which involved hour-long walk around the German town where he lived. “Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” Carl Jung
Solitude – Across all the studies done by philosophers solitude is a primary requirement for happiness and fulfillment. You can’t get breakthrough ideas in the busyness of life. You need to detach yourself from your routines and allow your mind to get to a peaceful state. Your mind then brings great ideas that can be acted upon. I think it can be safely said that all of us get great ideas from time to time but we fail to record the ideas and even if we do we don’t act on it. So be sure to keep a notebook by your side all the time and record your ideas regularly. So do schedule some alone time by either waking up early or staying up late. My preference is early morning because it is refreshingly quiet and you can think alone. Ernest Hemingway was well known for getting up early to write. Here is what he said “When I am working on a book or story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write…”
A quote sighted in the book from the psychologist Ester Buchholz on solitude “The relief provided by solitude, reverie, contemplation, alone and private times is inestimable, Remember that love is not all there is to psychic well-being; work and creativity also sustain health.”
Openness to Experience – This is one of the BIG five of personality traits. The others are conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. When your mind is open to new input it triggers creativity. People who learn new things and enjoy new experiences usually score high on openness. By constantly bombarding your mind with great ideas from various sources you become a great creative. Again this can only happen if you allow yourself to be open to suggestion. Make sure to keep reading, learning, listening to new input on a daily basis as this will surely spark great ideas within you. I know I have repeated this often but do remember to write down the ideas as you will forget them easily. “By replacing the fear of the unknown with curiosity we open ourselves up to an infinite stream of possibility. We can let fear rule our lives or we can become childlike with curiosity, pushing our boundaries, leaping out of our comfort zones, and accepting what life puts before us.” Alan Watts
Intuition – We all remember the famous story about Archimedes getting his breakthrough idea while on the bath. I also read that Woody Allen takes long showers to get creative ideas and I think the results do showcase the effectiveness. The key is to act on your intuition when it does occur and we have to be ready to record our ideas and then take immediate action. For example personally I was listening to an audiobook where I learnt that we can self-publish through lulu.com and I took immediate action to publish my book because I already had the content ready. This is truly preparation meeting opportunity. Intuition always leads you to the right book or source that will then lead you to further things that can help you get your ideas in play. However the key is to act on your intuition.
Please read this passage sighted in the book that Steve Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson. “If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is, if you try to calm it, it only makes things worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there is room to hear more subtle things – that is when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see much more than you could see before.”
There are four other ways mentioned by the authors namely Mindfulness, Sensitivity, Turning Adversity into Advantage, and Thinking Differently. Overall it was a thoroughly refreshing read.
To conclude creativity is not the know-how of only painters, sculptors, actors or authors. All of us have latent creativity within us but we should pursue this field with passion and results will come. You are a creative and you can generate ideas that can improve your life dramatically. Good luck on your creative journey.
The views expressed in this article are my own and do not represent my organization.