Creative Living


Ok, ok–I think it’s time for a break from the blogging goodness we’ve been discussing all week and talk a little bit about our less practical, more creative sides (don’t worry, more blogging goodness will be comin’ atcha soon enough). Specifically, how can we be more creative in this very moment? You see, there are lots of ways we can improve our creativity over time–educating ourselves, developing new habits, or experiencing new things. But we don’t always have the luxury of time. Remember the whole “holy cow people are busy” thing? Yea, time is a precious resource. So what can we do now that will have a positive impact on our creativity right away? Turns out, quite a bit. Try some of these strategies:

1. Dim the lights. Believe it or not, it’ll help. There’s new research that shows that dim lighting helps you feel freer and less inhibited. In fact, just thinking about being in the dark can help you get those creative juices flowing.
2. Write by hand. If you’re having trouble writing your blog post (or something for work, your novel, or anything else involving pesky words), try grabbing a pen and paper and working through your thoughts that way.
3. Have some booze. I’m not advocating getting sloshed, here, but it’s true that alcohol can help you be more creative. You’ll be less inhibited, and your mind will be free to think in different ways–you might even come up with connections or insights you otherwise would never have found.
4. Free-write. Sit down with a pen and some paper, set a timer, and just write. Don’t allow yourself to stop–if you get stuck, just write something over and over again until your mind supplies something fresh. This might take a few practice sessions, but once you get the hang of this technique you’ll find it invaluable for coming up with new ideas or breaking through a mental rut.
5. Lie down. Need to come up with a new idea? Lying down might make your brainstorming session easier. Just don’t fall asleep!
6. Get outside the box. Try taking the cliche “think outside the box” literally–sit next to an empty box. Or leave the room and sit in the hallway. I don’t know how, but studies have shown that this actually helps people generate new ideas. Whodathunk?!
7. Break it down. Pick an object–say a tree or a chair–and make a list of its different parts. A tree becomes a trunk, bark, branches, and leaves. A chair becomes a seat, a back, legs, and leg braces. Practicing this technique has been shown to help improve problem-solving.
8. Make something with your hands. Using your hands in an activity engages different senses at the same time, which is great for those creative muscles.
9. Get outside. Speaking of engaging the senses–being outdoors in nature engages all five of them. If that doesn’t stimulate your creativity, I don’t know what will!
10. Do some jumping jacks. Exercise boosts your brain. So get up! do some jumping jacks, walk around the house or your office for a few minutes, or run in place. Spend a couple of minutes getting your blood pumping, and then get back to work.
Above all: don’t over think it! If you’re putting a lot of pressure on yourself to come up with a brilliant idea or to write the perfect post, you’ll have problems. Let go of your expectations and just dive in. If it’s not quite right when you’re finished, leave it for a while and come back to it. Don’t force it, but give yourself time and space to work instead.
Which technique is your favorite? Which sounds the most off-the-wall to you? What other techniques would you add to the list?

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