6 Ways to Nurture Your Creativity
A Jumping off Point for Struggling Creators
Being creative can be difficult. There is a myth that people are either born creative or not. I like to think of creativity as more of a muscle. If you work that muscle, it gets bigger.
Unlike lifting weights, it’s harder to know how to exercise that creative muscle. Below is a list of ways you can help to nurture and grow your creative muscles.
Yes, I know you’ve heard this one before, but seriously, do it. There is a reason you’ve heard it over and over again.
Think about it. Your brain can’t generate new ideas if it’s constantly occupied by TikTok, YouTube, or Podcasts – not that any one of these things is bad. Your brain needs time to contemplate before it can create. The time it won’t have if it’s constantly bombarded with outside stimuli.
So, try this – turn off your phone and leave it in another room. Out of sight, out of mind. And if you are tempted to “get a drink of water” (check your phone) since it’s off, it’ll be another obstacle preventing you from getting distracted. Try this for just one hour and see how it goes. You can do it. I believe in you.
2. Be Ready for New Ideas
You never know when you might have a good idea for a project, so be prepared for it. The best thing I’ve ever done for my creativity is to invest in a $2 notebook. I take a notebook everywhere with me and, if I have any intriguing ideas, I jot them down.
The more you write down your ideas and flesh them out, the better you’ll get at continuing to come up with concepts and following through on them. Your ideas don’t have to be brilliant, and not everything will end up as a finished product, but some of them will. Remember, this is all exercising your creative muscle to make it stronger.
I suggest getting a small notebook that will fit inside your pocket or purse and take it with you everywhere. I always put my notebook by my bed because I find that I often have unique ideas while I’m sleeping. Brains are firing off neurons and putting weird ideas together for you. Thanks, brain.
3. Expose Yourself to New Ideas
Did you know that creativity is not your brain coming up with new ideas out of the blue? Creativity is your brain combining knowledge and ideas in new and unusual ways. So, the more ideas you expose yourself to, the greater the pool of knowledge your brain has to draw on and create something novel.
Reading novels, short stories, or articles are all good ways to expose yourself to new ideas, but there are also many other ways. Mindfully watch videos that pique your interest, like a TedTalk, watch science, nature, or psychology videos on YouTube. Go to an art gallery or a museum or listen to a Podcast or new music.
Just be wary of falling into the internet black hole of mindlessly watching fail compilations, binging that true crime Podcast, or jamming out to your favourite music for hours on end. Your brain needs to be exposed to ideas and then have time to process them before coming up with its own unique concepts.
4. Get Out in Nature
This may seem like another pretty basic idea, but it works. There is something calming nature that allows us to empty our minds. Purging our minds of to-do lists and stressful thoughts creates space for new ideas.
Again, you must be unplugged for this to work. So, when you spend time in nature fully immerse yourself for a while.
It’s not always easy to get into the backcountry or go on a soul-searching solo hike, but there are other ways to get a nature fix. Go on a walk in a local park on your lunch break. Have your lunch outside, sitting under a tree. If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard or balcony, drink your coffee outside.
Even these short escapes into nature can help you unwind and make way for your creativity to flow.
5. Bounce Your Ideas Off of Someone
Don’t be afraid to share your ideas. I know this can seem intimidating but, it can be a helpful tool. Brainstorming and talking (or writing about) your ideas with someone else can be a great way to flesh out a story and help to ward off writer’s block.
If you’re feeling a bit nervous about sharing ideas with friends or family, have no fear. Luckily, you’re already part of a community of thousands of writers on Vocal. If you like someone’s story or article, don’t be afraid to reach out to them. I’m willing to bet 99.9% of creators will be supportive and receptive to you reaching out. I know I would.
6. Write Everyday
If you’re trying to get into writing, set aside 10-20 minutes a day to do this. I suggest investing in another cheap notebook for this, although a computer works too.
Don’t put any pressure on yourself, just write whatever comes into your head. If nothing comes into your head, first, know you’re not alone; this happens to even the most experienced creatives. Second, try one of these prompts.
- Write about something that happened to you during the day – it doesn’t matter if it’s mundane, you just want to get the juices flowing.
- Write a description of a place you know well. It could be a room in your house, a place you went on vacation, or a childhood haunt.
- Write a review of a book you read or a movie you watched recently.
- Make up a character. Describe things like their appearance, age, demeanour, back story, and motivations.
- A limerick – it’s fun, short, and there’s already a structure to follow.
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