Looking to boost your natural creative instincts? Follow these five strategies to increase creativity.
So many of us look at creativity as a talent and not a skill. You’ll often hear people say that they can’t draw, write, paint, play music, etc.
They look at creativity the way some people look at mathematics. You either have it or you don’t. But nothing could be further from the truth.
The truth about creativity is that like math it’s messy. It requires a playful mind and thick skin. You need to be willing to trust your instincts, play with tools, and be willing to try again.
Unlike math though, creativity isn’t about using your rational mind. It’s actually the opposite. Like meditation, creativity is a process of letting go.
If you’ve ever watched someone in the midst of creation, you’ll notice that there is no roadmap. They are playing with their imagination. It’s a sort of controlled chaos.
One major problem is people’s belief systems around creativity are all wrong.
The truth is anyone can become more creative. It takes the willingness to practice and the patience to build up your skill to become more creative.
Read on to discover five effective strategies to become more creative.
1. Draw Like a Child: Doodle
Children are natural creative thinkers from the way they play to the way they approach a blank page. If you’ve ever watched a child draw, you’ll see they approach a blank page with spontaneity.
There is no fear of the blank page. Instead, they love it!
They may talk through the process, or be completely silent. But there’s one thing that children have over adults. They don’t critique in the midst of creation.
Sometimes, they won’t even talk about their work at all when they’re done. Instead, they’ll show it off with utter pride.
Instead of talking about the drawing, they’ll mention their process. They’ll mention their thinking during its creation.
There is no defeatist attitude in their creation. That only comes later.
The first step to becoming more creative is to draw like a child. Hit the paper with no notions and doodle. Think about the things you would draw in school while the teacher gave a lecture.
Doodling is different from drawing. It’s low stakes. Most people don’t show off their doodles. They doodle to keep their mind from wandering off. So get out a blank piece of paper and doodle.
Great thinkers like Edison and Steve Jobs use dooling to jumpstart their creativity. In Sunni Brown’s book Doodle Revolution, she highlights this point.
If you need to hear someone ramble on to bring back your high school days, use YouTube.
2. Create an Ideal Environment
Kids explore creativity through play whether it’s through make believe or on the page. They know that creativity starts by looking at the world through playful eyes.
They don’t worry if something will work out. They dive in and test their own creations. If it doesn’t work, they change it. No biggie!
Adults have a harder time with this. Adults think about the fear of rejection or conditioning before creativity.
They learn that risk-taking can mean embarrassment or even failure. It creates a clog in our creative inspiration.
That seems to change though with the right environment. In an environment of spontaneity and creativity risk-taking is less scary.
That may be what senior execs at Google had in mind when creating their headquarters.
Google employees enjoy fun perks like:
- Volleyball courts
- Free breakfast, lunch, and dinner
- Nap pods
- Video Games, foosball tables, and ping pong
- Gyms and swimming pools
It almost resembles an adult playground. This environment creates a relaxed state where creativity and spontaneity become second nature.
3. Discover Many Solutions to a Problem
There was a story on the news one time about a tractor trailer that got stuck under a bridge. They had police, firefighters, and other emergency officials on the scene.
It seems that no one could figure out the answer of how to get the truck unstuck. They tried to use rational reasoning when creativity better suited the problem.
A young girl solved the problem. She happened to be walking by with her mom. She asked why the truck was under the bridge like that. Her mother told her that the truck was too big and got stuck.
Her response was simple and creative. She responded with a question. “Why don’t they take the air out of the tires?”
This story shows the power of using creative problem solving.
Many people tend to think of creativity as artistic endeavors. But tons of creative thinkers are scientists, engineers, and mathematicians.
Creative problem-solving is a skillset many companies are seeking from employees. The ability to reason and use creativity to solve a problem is an essential 21st Century skill.
Here are a few ways to use creativity when solving a problem:
- Solve the problem with one less (or one more) variable. How could you drive home from work without using one of the roads you usually take? Include one new shortcut action for a digital project.
- Add in constraints to solve the problem. How can you get home from work using four roads or less? Recreate your favorite picture using only one line.
Discovering more than one way to solve a problem forces your brain to use creativity.
4. Stay With Problems Longer and Take Breaks
Albert Einstein had a few quotes about creativity and problem solving. “It’s not that I’m so smart. I stay with problems longer.”
Michelangelo’s sistine chapel and Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa took four years to create. Not only that, but Van Gogh made two Starry Nights.
Artists are creators who spend tremendous time staying with a problem. They’re not afraid to start over and enjoy breaks from creation.
For years, writers have said they get most of their best ideas on long walks. Edison took long naps in his office to spur creation.
Tesla built everything in his own mind before ever creating an invention.
Creative people know that creation takes time. Flashes of insight come during time away from a project. Patience is part of artistic mastery.
If you want to increase your creativity, you need to enjoy the stillness of mental breaks. That does not mean your brain isn’t working hard, it is. It’s a different kind of thinking.
Staying with projects and retooling creations is fundamental to the creative process. Sometimes, the greatest inspirations begin in the mind while on a break.
5. Use the 30 Circle Test
The researcher Bob McKim came up with this creative exercise. It’s featured in Tim Brown’s TED Talk about Creativity and Play.
Here’s how it’s done. On a piece of paper, draw 30 circles. Adapt as many circles as you can into objects in one minute.
One circle could become the yin-yang sign while another for a peace sign or the globe. The key is to figure out how many you can do in a minute.
The exercise helps you get out of your own head and create. Don’t judge. Don’t edit. Stay out of your head and create.
The time limit adds pressure to slog through, which many adults need. As you can imagine, most people don’t get through the 30 circles in a minute, but that’s not quite the point.
The point is to use your creative energy and spontaneity to create. As you finish, close your eyes and remember the feeling of creation without judgement.
Remembering the feeling will help you increase creativity as you practice more.
Follow These Five Strategies to Increase Creativity
You can become more creative and increase creativity with time, patience, and practice. We all have the ability to be more creative.
Remember to draw like a child and doodle. Create an ideal environment for creative endeavors. Think about many different solutions to a problem or project.
Be sure to stay with problems longer and take breaks for added insight. Use the 30 circle test to measure your creativity level and spurn more creation.
Creativity is not a talent. It’s a practiced skill. Turn off your mind’s chatter, breathe, and create.