I know you love it when I talk diet-y, but I’m taking a break today to address the subject of creativity, the ability to “generate innovative ideas and manifest them from thought into reality,” which is how Wikipedia describes “creativity” (I know, I know… a pretty uncreative description… I’m off to a terrible start here).
Unleashing your creative side can help you…
- Find new solutions to problems
- Look at things from a new perspective
- Create new creations
- Think more original thoughts
- Have a little more fun
You see, I don’t believe creativity is a “got it or don’t” trait. We all were handed a pack of brand-new crayons in kindergarten. We all had a time in our lives when our imaginations ran wild and free.
Here are a few practical tips to feed the creative side that I believe still resides inside you…
Drive a different route to work/school/errands. Routine is the death-knell of creativity. We get in a rut and turn our brains off. Think back: do you remember anything about your drive today? Go a round-about way tomorrow, and don’t be surprised if your brain wakes up and starts noticing the world around you.
Dial it up a notch. I sometimes play a game called “satellite roulette” with my XM radio in the car. I spin the dial a few times and force myself to listen to whatever it lands on for at least 10 minutes. It may be a Spanish newscast or Latin reggae or techno pop, but I sit there and let it sink in. Give your brain plenty of new material to process.
Look at the world in new ways. Sit across from your desk for a morning or stand up during a phone call. Take a continuing education class or learn a new language. Go to the library and pick a couple of books at random. Go star-gazing or blueberry-picking. Cultivate an appreciation of different ways of thinking.
Cut back on the TV. Or change the way you watch it. My daughter Pisa and I have a regular nightly routine where we set up in our TV room (“The Spicy Crib”) and watch TV shows or movies that we’ve seen before. She’s got a drawing pad, doodling her doodles, and I’m pecking away at my laptop, usually churning up some new blog nonsense. We call it “watching TV,” but both of us are actively busy creating something new while we do it, not passively sitting and watching.
Become an explorer. Get out in the world and feed your creative side. Hit museums and parks, concerts and poetry readings. Try new places and new foods. Remember, the wider the lens, the better the view.
The goal is to pretend you’re ten again and haven’t forgotten how to use your imagination. Creativity is fueled by sights, sounds, smells and experiences. Sitting around won’t help you generate new ideas; trying new things and giving your brain new things to think about are what will jog your creativity.
Applying Creativity to Your Blog (and Life)
Once you’ve stirred the creative juices, there are plenty of ways to apply your super-charged brainstorming ability into your blog or other creative efforts…
Make connections. I particularly enjoy finding the connections that exist between what we’re all obsessing about (losing weight and healthy living) and other aspects of life, such as marriage, childbirth, sex, etc… or focusing the subject through the prism of an unexpected delivery method, like a fairy tale, nursery rhyme or, from time to time, a popular song. All I’m doing is making a connection between one thing and another; it’s like magic… nothing to it if you know the trick.
Ask “What if?” Those two words can unlock the gate to a whole world of creativity. Asking “what if?” can turn any idea upside down or inside out. It can completely change the landscape of what you’re working on.
Take risks. Some of the most popular blog posts I’ve written have been ones I’ve had second thoughts about publishing. Yes, there’s the possibility that you may fall on your face from time to time, but there’s a special high ground reserved for the risk-takers of the world. Remember what they say: “a ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships were built for”.
Knock down your comfort zones. Creativity is about embracing the change that would otherwise knock you off kilter. It seems counter-intuitive, but it can greatly benefit you to challenge your everyday routine. Try working in a way that you would normally struggle with or find difficult. New answers come from new ways of thinking.
Write down every idea. Write down everything and anything that crosses your mind, even the seemingly stupid ideas. A big part of having a good idea is having a lot of ideas. Keep a running list of ideas to explore later. I’ll often start blog posts that go nowhere, so I’ll abandon them; sometimes I’ll revisit these cast-offs and find new inspiration in old ideas.
Don’t be afraid to fail. There are no mistakes, only lessons, and lessons are repeated until they are learned. Every failure is an opportunity to grow, and most will never achieve anything approaching greatness without experiencing a few setbacks along the way.
Sing in your own voice. To thine own self be true. No exceptions, no excuses.
Brains, like bodies, need regular exercise to keep fit. If you don't work out your brain, it’ll get flabby, soft and useless. Read good books, talk to clever people and don’t be afraid to disagree with others – as a matter of fact, I think I’ll go tell my wife Anita what I really think of her mother.