How to Be More Creative: 8 Tips to Spur Creativity

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Daniel Glickman
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Most people think that creativity is something only creative people have. Well, I have studied the behavior of several creative people (including myself) and have come up with a guaranteed formula to make you more creative at whatever it is you do.

Ready? Here we go:

1. Procrastinate

There is no question about it: creative people always do things at the last moment. This is not the whim of the absent-minded. Here’s why: it is scientifically proven that creative people use their sub-conscious more than the norm. And because sub-conscious thinking is correlated with creativity, the longer you wait to do something the more time your subconscious mind has to work on it.

sobusy

So, to be more creative, set a deadline and procrastinate. The creative solution will come to you when you least expect it.

Most people’s instinctive reaction to this advice is that it’s way too risky an approach. “What do I do if I hit the deadline and I came up with nothing?”

By definition, this approach will make you less creative. The creative solution might be completely out of the box, like coming up with a great story about why this was a bad idea in the first place and so you ended up doing something entirely different.

2. Always Be Learning

Creative people have a thirst for knowledge. Learning is different from curiosity which is also known to be linked with creativity.

You do not, in fact, have to be curious to be a learner. The connection between learning and creativity has to do with motivation. Some people are content with life exactly the way it is. If you want to be more creative, you also need to be motivated to change “life.”

up-glengarry-glen-ross

When you are motivated to change things, you start finding innovative ways to meet your goals. How can you do it? Look at stuff around you that are not perfect and decide that you WANT to change them.

Annoyances are everywhere for you to spot, they could be anything: that scotch tape that keeps sticking to your fingers, the fact that you hate folding laundry or even inefficiencies in someone’s computer code. If you are motivated to change something you will learn more about it (why do people shave? What is the history of razor blades?)

Creative people are often people who gobble up information from different sources about various topics. Sooner or later, some problem in Javascript will remind you about how shaving foam expands and Boom! Creativity happened.

3. Clear Some Space (Mentally)

Creative people LOVE new ideas. To make room for new ideas in your brain, you must toss out the old ones. Make a conscious effort to delete old stuff, forget ideas and get a bit more impatient when people re-hash a topic.

Whenever I lose a file I’ve been working on, I rejoice because I need to do the work all over again. I know this time it will be different and, because I’m not saddled by the old, it will also be better.

Creative people hate taking notes. They never read the meeting summaries and they refuse to have the same conversation twice.

How do you implement this methodology? Use cheap sticky notes instead of a notepad. Why? The sticky notes will fall off the wall within three days. So anything that is not completely fresh will get blown away and forgotten, and you will make space in your brain for new ideas.

4. Don’t Finish The Project

This one is my favorite. While I love the satisfaction of completing a project, I make sure to stop what I’m doing right when I’m in the middle of it. I’ll get back to it after a day or two (sometimes more) and will not spend any time at all thinking about it concisely. So when I get back to working on it, I see it with a whole new perspective.

5. Think Out Loud

I have always noticed that creative people talk to themselves, and I often wondered why do they do it. Apparently when you talk to yourself out loud something fascinating happens. By talking to yourself, you are giving yourself a set of instructions or questions. And, as it turns out, your subconscious is listening.

In fact, when you are talking out loud you are asking your sub-conscious for help. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat, Pray, Love” talked about the importance of talking to your sub-conscious in her TED talk “Your elusive creative genius.”

Gilbert encourages people to have in-depth conversations with their sub-conscious and hands out a couple of interesting tips such as: “talking to the wall” and “having a vocal argument with your imaginary muse.”

6. Don’t Stop When People Don’t Get You

The creative process often starts with an insight into a possibility. At that point in the process, you know what is possible that others can’t see, and they will likely not get what you are trying to do. Perhaps they may even try to talk you out of it.

Creativity has everything to do with INTERNAL MOTIVATION: the drive for new ideas comes from within. Follow that instinct.

Di (Internal drive) – Dx (External Drive) = Cp (Creativity Potential)

This does not mean that you should never listen to anyone, just that you need to understand that “their” motivation is to maintain the status quo while yours is to introduce something new.

Creativity will inevitably create conflict.

7. Drink More, Sleep Less

Research shows that alcohol inhibits the more deductive reasoning functions and boosts some of the primary processes of creativity. So, when you drink, you think less logically, are less able to plan ahead, and have a hard time following a linear thought progression.

Perhaps more importantly, alcohol removes inhibitions so that ideas which your mind immediately dismisses as “stupid” make it through to your conscious thought. Something similar happens when we are very tired: it’s hard to hold onto our thoughts, and our reasoning functions are diminished.

In fact, Creative insomnia is an actual “thing.”  Perhaps all that late night drinking at the office during work in “Mad Men” was not such a bad idea after all.

madmen

Source: Forbes.com

8. Create Non-Standard Environments

You need to get comfortable with a bit of risk. Our natural fear is that if we don’t do what everyone else does, we might fail.

There is a comfort in conformity, and therefore, we tend to slip back into conformity. That is why creating constant change in your environment is good for the creative mind.

Try setting up a business meeting at a strange place (like the beach). One thing is sure, it will not be like any other meeting that other person ever had, and probably something very interesting will happen.

You need to feel comfortable “always being in Beta mode” where trying new stuff is the norm.

Do you see yourself as a creative person? What do you do to be more creative?

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Comments (6)
  • Hey Daniel–

    I love the creative way you handle creativity.

    Also I like how it is iconoclastic–goes against what most people think about the topics.

    Thanks!

  • I want to be more creative. Thanks for your tips.

  • The truth is that each single individual can be creative. You just need the right environment, stimulus, and support. So if you value creativity, you have to do your best to foster a creative, safe space where rare ideas are celebrated and where creativity is developed.

    • Creativity is impotent to do out of the box, both situations means easy and though one… but one should be creative to cross the barriers…

  • Creativity is a muscle. And like any other muscle it must be used to grow. So the only way to get more creative is to be regularly creative. Writing every day in a journal, carrying a sketch pad and sketching stuff while on the bus. Building things with scrap materials. All will strengthen those “muscles” . Just like the gym, the more often you use them, the stronger they will get.

  • Truly creative people write every single idea down and explore it in all of its facets, with small or drastic iterations, without worrying about how shallow, inappropriate or counterproductive it might seem at first. This is because on one hand the first few ideas you have are always the most obvious; to find true insight you have to go beyond your comfort zone. That’s not something you can just switch on and off. You need to stay on it, get mad, run into dead ends, feel like giving up and then giving it some more time of experimentation and wonder to reach excellence. Trust the process even if it feels like you’re going nowhere. Keep at it and it will come.

 
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