Heads-up! There’s a great creativity post on Mike Brown’s excellent blog, Brainzooming. It’s a listing of 37 articles on ways to be more creative. I’m kicking myself because I’m not on the list!
I realize that even though I’ve written about 300 posts related to creativity, and a book — I haven’t written a piece that explicitly takes on that challenge. I would argue that my “Magic Jacket of Creative Behavior” post comes darn close! Well, never mind, no time like the present to make a change — I’ll make the next list with this post!
There are a lot of ways to be more creative, in my list below I’ve tried to focus on fundamental Ways of Being that lead to that boost we’re all looking for, these are things you really need to do All The Time, and if you do, your life will change — so here they are:
Nine Ways of Being for Amplified Creativity
1. Have a notebook of some kind and write ideas down religiously. Have it with you all the time, and, review it weekly and put your best ideas into real-world action. Note-booking your ideas, thoughts, questions, and observations is the “one thing” of creative effectiveness. When desperate, out running or something, take a pack of post-it notes and a tiny pen, or phone yourself and leave a message.
2. Work on things you care about. You won’t have a lot of creativity if you don’t have passion, real heart, for something. Do what your heart desires. When you have passion, great ideas come naturally. If you are needing to be creative about something you are not that interested in, get interested, and find a connection to what you do care about. Otherwise, you’re pulling an ice wagon uphill. Corolary #2b. Work with people you care about, who give you energy, respect you and your ideas, and who you can Play With (see #4).
3. Have a Zen attitude about new things, and defer judgment on all ideas. Especially your own ideas, let them breathe, live, and have a chance to mature. The Zen attitude part is about being open to new ideas, and observing what’s around you with an open, neutral, mind. Eventually we must make choices, but even then, do so with an eye to keeping doors open. And the Beatles had it right, all you need is love.
4. Play. Play, Play, Play. Play, in all its various forms, with ideas, play with things, play with problems, play with opportunities, problems, challenges, explore, experiment, prototype, get physical, do sports, be kinesthetic, get in play-action mode, Google, doodle, noodle — and eat strudel.
5. Read Jack’s Notebook. Seriously. It’s the best book a person can read to learn deliberate creative process, a comprehensive tool for creativity. It’s a fun read, it goes fast. You’ll learn reading a story, the most naturally entertaining, and emotionally positive ,way to learn. And in general, read. Reading is a major way to learn, learn, learn. Creativity is about combinations, and knowing things matters in creating new mash-ups of old things.
6. Don’t pay a lot of attention to what other people think. If you are on a creative roll, let it roll, ignore criticism and negativity. Do your thing with gusto and let the chips fall where they may. If you are doing Something Different, many people will have an initial reaction of negativity for that reason alone. On further reflection, they might like it. Like olives. Like Beer. If people laugh, don’t be offended, that’s a very good sign, you’re on the right track to different. If you’re working in a team, well, you have to listen, but this is a post about personal creativity, and that’s where team creativity starts.
7. Don’t compare yourself to others. Our entire society is geared to doing this in all sorts of ways, from SAT scores, to degrees, to social class to status. Forget get, don’t play the game, it’s disempowering and tends to stop you, particularly in that awkward early-on time when you are trying to doing something new. When you start dancing, or playing a guitar, or being a CEO, it’s awkward at first, don’t make it worse by thinking how Not-Eric-Clapton or Not-Steve-Jobs you are. Corollary #7b: Enjoy being very bad at things and doing them anyway.
8. The arts are starter drugs for greater creativity. Even if you’re Not An Artist, there is this thing called self-expression which impacts everything you do, and, how you think. If you’re not generally self-expressed, the faucet of your creative flow is rusty and hard to turn on when you need it. You don’t have to BE an artist to create art, enjoy art, and get the benefits of a self-expression practice. Self-expression in the arts carries over to your other work in a positive creative way.
9. Believe it. Simply Believe You Are Creative. Your most basic beliefs drive how you think, your brain listens to the programming you put in via your thoughts, like punch cards on an old computer. If you keep feeding it the “I’m Creative” card, it starts acting like it. When we hit the wall seeking ideas, feed in the card “I’m going to think of something great,” or “I’ll have a great idea for this.” Even when your faith falters, as the songs says, Don’t Stop Believin, fake it until you make it — you will make it — make an active choice to be creative.