Do you ever feel like you’re just not creative? Or perhaps that you’ve simply run out of creativity (especially when you need it the most)?
I readily admit to feeling both quite frequently. This semester, I found myself under the pressure of having to consistently whip up original, witty and innovative content just to pass my classes. Oftentimes, I would turn in an assignment and wonder how I had managed to come up with any kind of original ideas, only to be given the next task which had to top the last. Soon I began to ask questions like…Is there some sort of secret creativity formula that I am missing? Why won’t my brain come up with anything new? Why is my creativity so sporadic?
As I picked apart my usual creative process, poured through countless online articles, studies and blogs, and spent way too much time staring at the ceiling, I began to formulate a few thoughts about how I could become consistently creative. It had to become a lifestyle, rather than simply sporadic moments of frantic brainstorming.
Here are my top 4 methods to develop creativity on a daily basis:
Curiosity is the first step to solving any problem or coming up with any new idea. Don’t take things and concepts for granted; instead challenge yourself to step beyond the obvious and dive into the unknown. Ask questions and relentlessly seek answers. I keep an ongoing list on my phone of things that, for whatever reason, piqued my curiosity. At the moment, my list looks something like this: where the Jeopardy questions come from; Einstein’s atomic letter to the President; JQAdams hated AJackson; German cuckoo clocks. Whether you make a tangible list or keep your curiosities in your noggin, continue asking questions.
Creativity isn’t necessarily generating new ideas, but rather making new connections between old ideas. The more knowledge that you have to pull from, the more connections you can create. As often as I can, I cozy up with my battered Mac and absorb as much news and information as possible. A few of my favorite sources are Adweek, Advertising Age, Creative Bloq, Creative Something, The Creativity Post, and Relevant Magazine. But don’t just limit yourself to surfing the web; grab a few of those dusty books that you meant to read last year and crack ’em open. Or grab a cup of coffee with someone you don’t know very well and listen to their story. Pursue whatever you find to be interesting, challenging and encouraging.
The world is chock-full of inspiration, and it’s up to us to discover it. Embrace spontaneity and shake up your routine. Take an alternate route home on your daily commute; resist the urge to order the same thing every time you eat out; sit in different spot at the dinner table, classroom or movie theater; try out a new art style or medium; search for patterns in the mundane. Even if you can’t venture out and explore, take inspiration from online look books such as Pinterest, Behance, Fiverr, or From Up North.
Living creatively will always be a battle against self-doubt. Even the greatest artists of all time have faced it; Vincent Van Gogh once said, “If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” Take your focus off your insecurities and look to your strengths instead. Believe that you are creative.