How can we, as bloggers, use practical methods to increase creativity? I’m talking about creativity in the sense of coming up with great ideas.
Even if you are creative and skillful in some areas, when it comes to blogging, and online business success, you likely need to expand your horizons. Our creativity may need some creative thinking to remove us from a mind that sometimes limits us.
If you read my last post on How To Be A Creative Blogger,you’ll know that I believe that creativity can be learned. I talked about traits, such as confidence, that foster a creative mind. Today, I give you some practical methods to increase creativity.
(You may not consider me very creative and wonder how I can advise you. Believe me, this article took an awful lot of research. I wanted to discover how to be more creative myself, then share the results with you.)
Increase Creativity by Watching What Others Do
Check out a blogger, or marketer, you admire. See what they are doing differently and work out which aspects appeal to you. We tend to appreciate things that are a reflection of what is already inside us: areas where we have the potential to develop.
It’s not about copying others but finding ideas that suit our skills, experience, and passions, then adapting them to our own unique style. Originality often develops from something that already exists. Next time you read an interesting blog post, instead of moving on to something else, take some time to think about it.
- What is it you like and admire?
- Read between the lines. Look for what is missing: not just the information but in the way it’s written, the stories told, its visual appeal.
- Work out how you’d do it differently. Would you phrase it differently, add a story, add more detail, add more or different types of images?
Austin Kleon is the author of the best-selling book “Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative”
Be Aware Of What Surrounds You
No, I’m not talking about the pile of correspondence, reminder notes, the call of mobile device notifications, all those open browser tabs, the pile of laundry needing sorting … I’m talking about what is outside: that place at the other side of the external doors of your house. It’s hard to increase creativity without new experiences.
- Visit crowded places, quiet serene nature spots, attend events. If you really watch and listen, all can give you inspiration. You might find one type of place that brings out your creative talents the most. To state the obvious, new stimuli stimulates. Did you know that the inventor of Velcro got the idea by looking at thistles?
- Commuting isn’t naturally conducive to creative thinking. But, if you stop worrying about how soon you’ll be there, whether you’ll be on time, and all the tasks ahead, it can be. Look around you and be aware, or let your imagination take hold and do the traveling instead.
- Go for a walk, take a dip in the sea or a pool, visit the gym, weed the garden. (the latter works for me!) Exercise jiggles those feel good endorphins into action. A good frame of mind frees you to think outside your brain’s box of worries.
- Travel when you can. Nothing broadens our experience more than visiting different places. Different doesn’t mean expensive overseas trips but to a country town if you live in the city, or vice-versa. If you normally drive, take a bus or train once in a while.
Make Some Changes To Routines
Do some things differently by altering some set routines, especially the more mundane.
- Get up a little earlier and go for a walk or lay there a while thinking of how you might do things differently.
- Do your ironing once a week instead of daily, or vice versa. Organize yourself better to free up time.
- Alter your clothing or hair style. If you feel differently about yourself there’ often a knock on effect in your attitude and behavior.
- Leave more time for fun and relaxation.
Enjoy a sense of freedom by taking control and changing things around.
If you have an idea, stick with it, commit to it, spend time on it. It’s so easy to talk ourselves out of doing something new and different. I know! It’s also hard to give up the familiar, even if it’s not working as you’d like.
When inspiration strikes you, make a note of it, including those fleeting ideas that speed across your mind when you wake up. (or is that just me?). Always keep some form of note-taking tool close by.
Create Story Boards
Lay out your ideas or problems in simple storyboard format. The visual cues help us see a natural progression and what might be missing. Stick figures are fine (drawing skills aren’t needed) and there are various online storyboard creation tools.
The Kipling Method
Named after Rudyard Kipling’s poem “6 Honest Serving Men”, the Kipling Method requires you ask questions to stimulate your thinking. Use the poem as a memory jogger for using the “5 Ws and 1 H” Take a look at The Kipling Method post for more information and example.
Reading For Increasing Creativity
Reading a book expands the mind, fires the imagination, stimulates the brain, and increases concentration levels, more than reading online articles. The focus needed is a catalyst for inspiration and creativity. If you’re having trouble concentrating on this article maybe you don’t read enough books 🙂 Either that or you are bored with it, in which case I need to read more books!
For work, try finding a comprehensive book on your topic instead of searching and reading multiple articles.
For leisure, swap passive, mind-numbing, TV watching for book reading. Take the Groucho Marx attitude:
(I’m going to take this tip to heart and not resort to TV so often, although it does help me get to sleep)
More reading: Why Reading Makes You More Creative by Creative Market
Make a habit of spending time in thought, without worrying about what you have to get done. Catch up with the most urgent tasks and have a break to leave your mind free, and open, to concentrate on problem solving and creative thought.
John Cleese in a lecture on creativity recommends creating an oasis of quiet, with no distractions where we can get into an “open mode”.
“the open mode, is relaxed… expansive… less purposeful mode… in which we’re probably more contemplative, more inclined to humor (which always accompanies a wider perspective) and, consequently, more playful. It’s a mood in which curiosity for its own sake can operate because we’re not under pressure to get a specific thing done quickly. We can play, and that is what allows our natural creativity to surface” John Cleese
He recommends regular sessions of about 90 minutes and not longer and less frequent. He talks about research on creativity by the psychologist, Donald MacKinnon, who says although a “light-bulb” moment of inspiration might be brief, it usually only comes from prolonged searching.
So, when inspiration doesn’t come, don’t force it. A tired, frustrated mind is far less efficient than if it’s fresh, rested and enthusiastic. Go for a walk, have a cat nap, or come back to the issue the next day.
I’m going against the trend here to say procrastination can be a good thing! What do you do when you procrastinate? It’s likely something you enjoy doing. Does your procrastination tell you that you aren’t blogging about topics that fire you up? As ‘”procrastiworker” Jessica Hische says:
Mix With The Right People
Surround yourself with other creative people, online and offline. Be an active part of online communities that encourage uniqueness, developing your thought processes, and sharing ideas.
Join workshops where the goal is to take action and to create something new and different. (My favorite online community, which caters for all of this), is PAC, for bloggers and marketers.
Even talking to creative people is inspiring, especially those who don’t let their ego get in their way. The right people doesn’t always mean like-minded people. Broaden your experience to talk to people of different backgrounds, experiences, jobs, and those with different viewpoints.
If you are selling something remember that those who you want to appeal to are those who need what you are selling, not those who think and act exactly like you do. Brainstorm with people with the same interests as you and listen to those with opposing views.
- Creativity, 63 short exercises to a Happier Life
- Follow my Facebook Page’s “Creativity Album” where I’m posting resources to help increase your creativity. (I’m using an album so the posts don’t get lost over time.)
(PS. I wouldn’t recommend inventor, Yoshiro Nakamatsu’s, method of coming up with inspiration for his 4000+ inventions. That is, by diving underwater and depriving himself of oxygen, until 0.5 seconds before death!)
Please comment and let us know what methods you use to help increase your creativity. Because, as Kermit the Frog said:
“Finally, there’s one other thing that I think every person or frog needs to be creative: friends. For me, the best part of creativity is collaborating with friends and colleagues. Mine happen to be bears, pigs, rats and penguins, but you go with what works for you.”
As you see, I’m trying out the Tweet This Plugin. Do you think that I’ve used it too much in this article? Would one or two instances be better?