7 ways to boost your creativity

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Do you think your writing would improve if only you could become more creative? Here are seven ways to boost your creativity….

We’ve never had pets in our household. Although I’d dearly love a cat, my husband is highly allergic to animal dander — and the thought of a hairless cat (pictured adjacent) strikes me as creepy rather than comforting.

Truth told, however, our children felt the pet absence more profoundly. When they were young enough to want to go hiking with us, they’d pick up slugs, carry and name them. Mom and dad couldn’t supply a pet, so they’d find one of their own.

I always thought this illustrated one of the best things about kids — their deep wells of creativity.

Whenever someone tells me they’re not “creative” enough to write, I want to beg them to remember their childhood. We are all born creative. Some of us just lose it faster than others.

Here are seven tips to rediscover your own creativity.

1)   Become an expert. I know, I know, an expert sounds like the polar opposite of a creative person. You’ve been picturing Beethoven and I give you an engineer. But think about it: Someone who is creative joins things they already know into new and unexpected arrangements. By having a rich understanding of a particular subject, you’re in a better position to think of creative ideas. Make sure you really know what you’re writing about.

2)   Brainstorm. For writers, one of the best possible ways to be more creative is by mindmapping or as I like to call it, “brainstorming with yourself.” If you’re a subscriber to my newsletter and you’ve lost the fr/ee booklet on mindmapping you should have received when you signed up, put a note in the comments section at the end of this post. (This is better than emailing me. To save yourself from the sp/am bots, type your email address with AT rather than @.) I’ll send you another copy right away. Mindmapping is fast, visual and fun. It’s the closest thing to a magic bullet for writers that I’ve ever found.

3)   Don’t just sit at your desk. Sitting and staring at the computer screen until beads of blood form on your forehead is no way to create. Go! For a walk. For a run. Even out for a coffee. Sitting is toxic to creative thought. Get moving. Now!

4)   Ask questions. Have you ever noticed how smart people are never afraid to ask “stupid” questions? In fact, there is no such thing as a stupid question. There are only people too stupid (too afraid, really) to ask it. When you’re interviewing someone, the stupider the question the better. I frequently ask subjects to talk to me like I’m a 10-year-old. That often makes them smile and it encourages them to get rid of the jargon and tell me stories.

5)   Try different perspectives. Maltese writer Edward de Bono argues that the  human brain thinks in a number of distinct ways — not all of which are natural to every person. In his marvelous book Six Thinking Hats he presents six systematic ways in which you can challenge your brain.

  1. Red hat (emotional): What do your feelings tell you?
  2. White hat (objective): What are the facts?
  3. Yellow hat (positive): What do you know will work?
  4. Black hat (negative): What do you know won’t work?
  5. Green hat (creative): What are some alternative ideas?
  6. Blue hat (broad perspective): What’s the best overall solution?

6)   Challenge any negativity. We like to think that working better will make us happy. But, instead, the opposite is true: when we’re happy we work better.  If you want be creative, try to make yourself happier first. You might do this by listening to some music, reading a good book or meditating. Do whatever it takes to reduce or eliminate negative thoughts or self-criticisms.

7)   If at first you don’t succeed, take a break… Getting access to your creativity takes effort, but it needn’t feel like the grim repetition of banging your head against a brick wall. If you keep running into roadblocks then stop driving and try again when the roads are clear.

Creativity cannot be “ordered” to perform. It appears on its own terms when it has a welcome audience. As long as you keep inviting it, creativity will eventually return.

How do you improve your creativity? We can all learn from each other so please share your thoughts with my readers and me  by commenting below. (If you don’t see the comments box, click here and then scroll to the end.)