6 Habits of Surprisingly Creative Peopleby Alex Mathers
As someone who needs to develop new ideas daily for articles and newsletters, I’m always curious to discover how to maximize my creativity.
I don’t always feel creative, but some things I’ve picked up from people over the years move me in the right direction. Certain habits can multiply your overall output and stave off periods of inactivity and procrastination.
Here are some ideas.
Decide to be creatively prolific
It’s interesting how a fire always seems to switch on inside when I get over my insecurities and decide to create a lot. This may seem like the last thing you’d want to do or be able to do when unmotivated. Often, as long as my health is in a good place and I’m staying active, a decision to do more is energizing. It can make all the difference.
And here’s the thing. Creating things is our birthright and the most potent source of life energy when we allow it to flourish. When we go against this natural part of us, we close down. Deciding to create in large quantities speaks to who we really are. That’s why it wakes us up. Decide to be prolific.
If you look at a classic mind map, you’ll see they are organized precisely like our brain’s neurons. By seeing everything laid out visually in this format, our process aligns with how our brains make connections. One idea spurs on another or a set of new ideas. It is harder to scale your ideas quickly like this if you were to think of them in your mind’s eye alone.
Paper organizes and records your ideas better. Especially when combined with drawings, mind maps also help with memory retention, so you can recall ideas faster and more efficiently. Write down a central topic, theme or idea. Then see how many other ideas and connections can branch out of this main idea. You might be surprised at how much you can think of.
Go on creativity walks
Ok, time’s up. It’s time to drop what you’re doing, quit worrying, grab a notebook and pen, and get outside. Get moving and use this opportunity to enjoy yourself and your surroundings. See yourself in a new light––like you’re an adventurer in a new land, seeing your area for the first time through new eyes.
There’s a secret creative people often don’t share: the less they think and judge, and the more they simply do, the more creative they are. Combine a still mind like this with physical movement, and you’ll discover the flow of ideas. Take note of everything that comes up at intervals. By the end of the walk, you’ll have pages full of doodles, ideas, drawings and a healthy dose of nonsense. This is all helpful fodder for future projects while also motivating you because you’re moving and creating.
Write long brainstorm lists
Take a topic, question, or focus, and write a long list of ideas. For example, what are some valuable, life-changing life lessons that I can write about? What are my clients struggling with that need solutions?
Writing is powerful because it opens up our creativity when coming up with lots of ideas. It’s like the brain kicks into action. The longer the list, the more creative your thoughts are likely to get, so push hard. Have fun with this. You can even write a list of ideas for lists to write.
Be resilient to losses
In sword-smithing, they use a process called tempering to improve the elasticity and hardness of the steel by reheating it before cooling it. A similar thing happens in your journey as a creator. You must anticipate periods of contraction––cooling––and moments of rejection, or you will quit. It’s all part of an overall strengthening and growth.
Your last piece might have been a hit, but the next one bombs. You could lose two followers as you gain five. That’s good. Creative people must find a way to keep creating, regardless of any perceived losses. Handling this is a practice. Getting good at this means you stall less and less. That’s gold for creativity.
Have a purpose bigger than you
Take moments regularly to step back and ask why you’re doing all this. Many people get burned out because they are too focused on the details and the minutiae of worrying thoughts. This changes when you replace this tightness with the ease garnered by thinking bigger.
How is your work ultimately going to impact the world positively? For which injustices could your work play a role in providing relief? It can’t all be about you. In fact, making it personal is one of the big reasons creatives find excuses to quit or not start in the first place. But if you’re creating things to bring the positive change that you can get excited about, this will do more for your energy and creativity than most things.