As such, I thought it’d be useful to share some tips you can use to stay creative in a time when we are quite disconnected from human to human interaction, which is something that is quite integral to having creative vibes for most people.
1. Creativity as a muscle. Train it with routines.
Especially if your job requires you to be professionally creative, which means you can’t afford to be ‘in the mood’, it’s useful to see creativity as a muscle. Something that can be trained and honed.
Identify what triggers you to be creative, and set yourself up in the optimal way. If you need soft, lo-fi music with a nice hot cup of cocoa by your desk, then have that set up every time you need to get serious. Just like the routine you need to do to go to the gym, have the same for times when you need to work with your creativity.
Practice to get better. Professionals will not wait for inspiration to hit. They know where, when and how to get the inspiration needed to be creative. Practice routines are especially useful for this. If you’re intending to master logo design (for example), you need to have enough hours poured into mastering it.
2. Work on unfamiliar disciplines
If you are a writer, draw. If you are a graphic designer, write. If you are a marketer, make pottery (assuming you have a pottery set up at home). Basically, do something creative that is completely out of your comfort zone or area of expertise. Chances are you are going to suck at it, but that is the key to sparking creative thoughts and ideas. Shifts of perspectives happen at the strangest times.
Over time, that new area might just get included in your list of things you are great at, but that is never the intention. You need to get used to unfamiliar things. The discipline of creativity is in the word itself — create. Just create things. Unrelated things. Random things. You might find a surprise waiting for you at the end of that activity.
3. Forced boredom
This is one of my favourites. We humans are strangely unappreciative beings. Gratitude doesn’t come easy to many of us. And that includes being grateful to do something we love. We get jaded over time. We forget that being able to work in a field that involves creativity is something we want and desire so much and once we have it, it gets old and repetitive.
So my suggested hack to this problem would be to force boredom on ourselves.
This is serious work. Which means you need to resist all temptations to get that dopamine fix. True boredom is not ‘feeling bored’ when you’re scrolling through social media. No phone, no electronics. Just the sound of your breathing and whatever is in your immediate environment. I don’t know much about meditation but in a way, this approach of cutting off all distractions to focus on… nothing is a brilliant way to unlock the desires and gratitude of being creative.
You will find yourself yearning to go back to the computer to make that design, or to write the article that can change the world. But, you must resist.
Set a specific time and go get bored.
4. Read physical books
There’s something about physical books that induce creativity. I really mean physical books. Put your kindle or iPad aside. Immerse in the page turning galore and textures of the paper while consuming the literature inside.
You can’t annotate as easily as you can with an iPad. If you want, you can take notes into a notebook (again, physical) — because the movements of your wrist in coordination with the brain — there’s something there that boosts creativity.
I love my hand written notes and the hours of the day I spend reading books. It almost has the same effect as forced boredom where I would feel like I need to go make something after reading a few paragraphs or a chapter. But I can only capture it all in my notebook.
5. Work with your hands
Being creative nowadays is too associated with doing something on the desktop computer, laptop, tablet or phone. All these digital devices are great but for the longest time, we humans have been creating with tools and tangible things.
There might be a scientific explanation to this — but there’s something about working with your hands that makes your mind creative. If you know any, please share it in the comments.
Charcoal drawing, painting, clay modelling, cooking, baking, sewing, writing (with a Pen and paper), carpentry, even doing home fixes… these are things you can do to just get out of the rut of being non-creative.
I hope these five tips can help you continue to stay creative with your work. Because let’s face it, creativity is a gift and the world will always have a need for it.
Creativity is in every field and discipline. It is what makes us cultured and human. And this is more needed than ever in a time like this, with the pandemic going around.
Please stay creative, and stay safe at home. We will get through this, together!