If you are one of those people who insists that they are not creative, then stop it right now. Everyone is creative. Creativity is the essence of being human, the ability to outwardly express inner thoughts and emotions. It’s not just about being creative, but trying to improve creativity that already exists. It starts with the question, how much do you exercise and nurture your creative nature?

Short Version
  • Maintain a healthy diet and exercise plan
  • Put limits on how much entertainment you consume
  • Let your mind wander occasionally and give it breaks
  • Always be learning
  • Set the right atmosphere
  • Just do it

Nothing improves without attention, except maybe a weed garden. You exercise your limbs to make them stronger, you do cardio to strengthen your heart and lungs, you might even go onto that website that says it will exercise your brain (although the claims there are in doubt). Creativity can be trained, strengthened, and improved as well, but it takes effort to improve creativity, like any worthwhile endeavor does.

So what exactly can you do to bring out that creative person inside you or take your creativity to the next level (or overcome that creative block)? Read on to find out.

 

 

Get Healthy

The evidence of the mind-body connection has really been piling up over the last few years. More and more scientists are finding ways in which exercising and being physically fit demonstrably improves brain function. We’ve always known that the mind affects the body, now we know the opposite is true as well. Even your posture can affect your mood.

If you sit working in one place for too long you’ll get burned out quicker than if you take breaks. You should try to stand up and walk around for five or ten minutes every hour to keep your mind fresh while you are working.

Good physical health promotes positive thinking, and poor health does the opposite. Despite the stereotype of the starving, tortured, black sheep artist who is the creative genius, science reveals that positive thinking stimulates creativity much more than negative thinking.

Have you noticed that somehow the solution to almost every problem we have as humans is to eat well and exercise? Take the time to get into the nitty gritty of how your body and mind react to being healthy versus not being healthy, it will blow your mind. The fact that people generally discard this advice as a real solution demonstrates the instant gratification society we have become. The best fixes don’t come in a pill.

Limit Your Entertainment

I’m not going to preach at you about the evils of television and movies and video games. I’m not going to tell you to cancel the cable or throw out your television. However, limiting your entertainment time is a really good idea. Of course there’s the standard reasons for this like being more productive with time, but when it comes to improving creativity it’s more specific. Although it may go against what you would naturally think, drowning yourself in entertainment input does not promote a creative spark – it makes it less likely.

Entertainment is a passive activity, but creativity is active. Entertainment is taking, while creativity is giving. If you spend all your time taking in, you don’t have any left for putting out (that’s what she said). Instead of channel surfing for the next cool show you haven’t seen, why not turn it off and go write a better show instead?

Don’t Get Too Focused

Creativity is stifled by too much focus (a great example of how our educational system teaches us to behave in ridiculous ways). Sitting and concentrating hard on a problem turns out to be the least efficient process for accomplishing the task. In addition,

caffeine can also turn the knob down on creativity.

This makes sense, since caffeine’s job is to increase your ability to focus.

When you are looking for a creative solution to a problem or just trying to create something, allowing your mind to wander is one of the best things you can do. Don’t try to reign your thoughts back in, let them go in whatever direction they take you. You don’t want to focus too much when you are thinking creatively.

This goes back to taking breaks and moving around as well. Leaving your work area during your breaks allows your mind to wander to different things. The mind has an amazing ability to pull pieces of data from all sorts of disparate areas, join them together and come up with creative solutions from them. This can only happen if you give your brain the freedom and rest to do so.

Something Old, Something New

Creativity Workshop

Even though there are questions as to whether or not “brain games” and sites like Lumosity.com can increase your brain function, there is no doubt that learning is always a good thing. The more you learn, the more you’ll know. The more you know, the more resources you have at your disposal to apply to different situations. The more toys your wandering mind has to play with can help deliver a creative solution or an idea.

You should take the something old, something new approach to continued learning, this is a great way to improve creativity. Learn something new about things you already know about and build up your knowledge of it. At the same time,

pick something new to learn and get busy with it.

Try to always be learning something new, it will expand your creative thinking.

Adjust the Mood

Everyone is different. People get inspiration from different places, crowds, and even positions. More than one famous writer reported that they couldn’t think unless they were lying down. Of course a lot of creatives have used, um, mood-enhancing substances to boost their creativity. Scientifically speaking, however, they don’t have an advantage. We should have a definitive answer to this question soon as we wait to see whether Colorado and Washington will emerge as the creative hubs of the U.S.

Noise levels can make a big difference as well. Studies show the hum of a coffee shop is a great noise level for productivity, and Coffitivity took that study and built a web tool out of it which plays recordings of coffee shops. Enjoy that when you work. Too much silence isn’t good for a productive setting, but it can be okay for creative thinking.

Make It Happen

Just like anything else in life, creativity can be boosted by a good old kick in the butt. Decide you’ll be creative for a few hours and then just go do something. Build something, make something, write something. Anything but watch TV, listen to music, or play videogames. Go write a poem or a short story. Don’t think about it, don’t critique it, just write it. Or write a song. Or paint a picture, or a house. Just make sure that you are actively creating something during that set time frame. The very act of trying to create something will go a long way in developing and improving your creativity.

There are no measureable ways to objectively test or observe creativity, and perhaps this is what makes it one of our most human traits. Creativity will always be a subjective area, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t, or shouldn’t, try to develop it.

Creative Checklist
  • Good diet and exercise are a must
  • Find a comfortable space where you can let your mind wander
  • Place limits on yourself for passive entertainment time
  • Learn something new everyday, and make it a point to always keep learning
  • Keep plugging away even when you feel blocked
  • Try new things regularly

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About The Author

Wally Peterson

Wally Peterson is a writer and aspiring beach bum living sixty seconds from the sand in the southern Outer Banks of North Carolina. He has a face made for blogging and his idea of fashion is wearing socks.

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