Discover how to be creative and spark your imagination. Pick the methods that work for you from our list of ideas.
Being creative can be tough sometimes but isn’t impossible. If you’ve found yourself struggling, you might just not have found the technique that gets your creative juices flowing. Depending on your personality, you might need more or less external stimuli, or take some time out for internal reflection and brainstorm on your own.
Whether you draw inspiration from your environment or from your imagination, there’s no right or wrong way when it comes to creativity. There’s only the method that works for you. Use our list of ideas to find your own way into being more creative.
Give Yourself Permission to Experiment
The first step to more creativity is to allow yourself to be creative. This statement might sound strange but many of us have been cut down or have been made to feel like an idea wasn’t good enough when we experimented with creative freedom throughout childhood.
By the time we’ve reached adulthood, we’ve developed a judgemental inner voice that snuffs out the sparks of innovation. Instead of this negative mindset, hark back to the joy of a child when you just tried out anything for fun. Any creative idea should be worth pursuing to see how it plays out. To do that you have to give yourself permission to experiment.
Think about Changing Your Daily Routine
After you’ve given yourself permission to be creative, you have to give yourself the time to sit down and work on your passion project. Just like any other important appointment in your calendar, make room for a creativity break on your busy schedule.
This way, you integrate creative work into your daily life, which propels you forward and makes you happy. This can become the hour where you brainstorm ideas for a new book, experiment with different textiles, or paint your favorite flowers in the garden.
When you’ve made this a priority for a while and if you feel comfortable in your routine, you can even start to set yourself deadlines. Knowing how much you can get done in this hour can be your way to completing a project that you want to submit to a competition or an exhibition.
Use Brainstorming Techniques to Spark Ideas
Brainstorming in a group can be a good way to bounce ideas off others and get inspired in a way you mightn’t if you sat down to brainstorm on your own. Group sessions can be problematic when you get caught up in someone else’s idea or forget your input by the time it’s your turn to speak.
When it comes to searching for creative ideas, a solo session can sometimes be better, as all the inhibitions you might have in a group session aren’t there to block you. You can let the ideas flow more freely and explore different avenues.
Daydream or Journal
Allowing yourself to daydream is another great way to let your ideas flow freely. To harness the power of daydreaming, set aside some time where you do nothing or perform a repetitive task. Accept the initial boredom that you might experience and let your mind wander. Don’t judge any of the ideas that eventually start to come. Even seemingly bad ones can turn into something excellent.
Journaling provides another opportunity for your creative side to drop ideas into your lap. Use a dream journal or write morning pages to free yourself from a cluttered mind in the morning. Dreams may spark ideas that you can use to design, write, or paint. The goal of morning pages is to rid yourself of all the worries and anxieties by writing them down. This stream of consciousness writing creates a headspace for your creativity.
Take a Course in What You’re Passionate About
If you think you need a nudge from a creative person, consider taking a course in what you’re passionate about. The guidance you get and meeting like-minded people gives you the boost you’re looking for.
Check your local colleges and community centers for their lists of evening courses in art, music, photography, writing, or other creative pursuits. When you’re doing a course, you’re exposed to new ways of thinking and feedback from others. This will help you discover different perspectives and ideas. Sharing your ideas with your passionate peers can be a refreshing way to get inspiration.
Read More and Widely
Reading books opens your mind to view the world from different perspectives and angles. In today’s fast-paced world with online media geared towards shorter attention spans, reading also trains your brain to concentrate on one topic for longer periods of time.
Use books for research and to spark new ideas. Through reading, you can travel to places that you might have never imagined. This helps you to get inspired by different cultures and ways of life. Broaden your horizons by reading a variety of genres and non-fiction books.
Try Out Creative Prompts
A prompt can provide both constraint and freedom. It helps you to focus on a single word, phrase, or sentence instead of feeling overwhelmed by too much input when you research. Prompts trigger associations that you can use to generate more creative ideas or start your project.
Prompts can also be visual but you don’t necessarily need an image to go on for creating art. Both words and images can help to get the creative juices flowing for writing as well as design. This technique can also help when you’re stuck and lead you down a different path that works for you instead. It lets you take a step back to find another way into your project.
Channel Your Inner Child’s Curiosity
Children don’t have a filter that immediately judges their creative work yet. They try out anything without thinking about any possible limits to their creativity. This mentality of experimentation and non-judgment is something that we as adults have to learn to cultivate again.
It means to let go of any concerns that your work might not be good enough and take risks. Like a child, you should be curious about everything and willing to give anything you think is interesting a go.
The child-like lens also helps you to focus, as the only thing that matters is the creative work in front of you instead of getting hung up on concerns about approval or the future. Being present in the moment boosts creativity.
Keep a Doodle Notebook in Your Pocket
A notebook can become a handy tool to capture your creative ideas. You might be hit by inspiration in unexpected places and times, so a good way to immediately write down ideas is to have your notebook in your pocket or handbag everywhere you go.
You can daydream and doodle in your notebook while you’re waiting for the rice to cook or while you’re watching your favorite tv show. This is a great way to look back at your thought process and build on your ideas. Your notebook is a platform where your imagination can run wild.
If you want to take your doodle notebook a step further, consider making a collage to play around with ideas and help visualize them better.
Produce More Ideas with the Six Thinking Hats Technique
Dr. Edward de Bono invented the Six Thinking Hats technique to counteract the tendency of people to simply want to win the argument instead of finding the best solution to a problem.
Originally generated to improve discussions within a team or group, you can also apply this technique to the creative process. The different hats are thinking styles that give you multiple perspectives to use to look at something.
This technique isn’t only a great way to generate ideas but can also help with creative blocks. Here’s a quick overview of the different thinking hats to use to go beyond the obvious and stimulate innovation:
- Blue Hat: Think broadly and start with the big ideas without considering their implementation yet.
- Green Hat: Think about alternatives and other possibilities.
- Red Hat: Consider the feelings you have about your ideas and follow your intuition to discover new perspectives.
- White Hat: Look at your ideas objectively and consider what kind of information you might need to make them work.
- Yellow Hat: Get excited about what you’ve found and think about how it will work out.
- Black Hat: Consider the risks and issues of your creative project.
Connect with Creatives
Get in touch with other creatives by joining an online writing group or community of artists on social media. Find out about local gatherings in your area. Join them and share ideas with a group of like-minded people.
This group of creatives can become your idea hub, a haven you turn to when you’re losing your creative energy or your safe space for feedback. It’s also a great way to network and find support for creative projects when they take off.
Listen to Music to Kickstart Your Creativity
Use music to let your thoughts and imagination roam freely. Music can help you to unwind and let ideas flow free from judgment and forcing your thought process into a particular direction. Follow the sounds, lyrics, or bass down a path to new creative ideas.
Choose music that motivates or relaxes you rather than distracts you. This is different for everyone. Some people need classical music to concentrate, others do their best work with speakers blaring hard rock or metal in the background. Find the songs that activate your imagination.
Take Time out to Be in Nature
Stimulate your creative side by going outside. Nature helps your brain to recharge and overcome creative blocks. Being outdoors also boosts energy levels and increases brain function. For example, walks in the sunshine brighten your mood as you enjoy the fresh air and get a change of scenery.
If you feel like sitting in your room trying out other methods to channel more creativity doesn’t work for you, perhaps you’re the type of person who needs to reconnect with nature to get ideas flowing. Take a notebook with you on your walks to jot down any inspiration.
Let Your Mind Relax and Wander During Meditation
Meditation helps you to get into a flow state where our minds aren’t distracted and we’re able to get a clearer view of our thoughts and feelings. A daily meditation practice relaxes the mind and lets it wander. Use this flow state to help you tap into your creativity.
Another type of meditation is floating or sensory deprivation. This involves a floatation tank filled with saltwater that is heated to body temperature. Inside the tank, you’re completely deprived of all the usual stimuli that distract your senses. This leads you into a relaxed state and fostering introspection.
Travel to Spark Your Imagination
Traveling and seeing different places and cultures is a great way to get the creative juices flowing. A relaxing beach holiday is nice. What’s even better for your creativity is immersing yourself in other cultures and learning from them as much as you can.
Traveling fosters open-mindedness and innovation. Meeting new people and trying to speak a different language helps form connections in your brain that make you think in new ways. Stay abroad as long as you can to soak up customs and beliefs, try different cuisines, and learn about a country’s history.
Keep up the Momentum to be More Creative
Experiment for a while and see which of the above techniques or combination of methods sparks your imagination. As soon as you’ve found what works for you, it’s important to keep going and the creative juices flowing.
Remember to do your own thing without judgment. Everyone can be creative given self-compassion and time. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, step away from your project and take a break. A good balance of creative sessions and breaks will help you to keep up the momentum.