Taken from “LifeLines” (September 2014) a publication of LifeWay Christian Resources
Written by Carol Pipes
Feel like you need to boost your creativity? Looming deadlines, uninspired projects, and overstuffed inboxes are enough to dull anyone’s creative edge. Here are 12 ways to sharpen your creativity.
Keep learning. Being a perpetual student is critical for creativity. Take a class online or at a local university. Learn a new language using a free app like Duolingo.
Try a different medium. If you’re a writer, take up photography. If you’re a painter, try cake decorating.
Read. Read for pleasure, general news, or industry news. Adam York, former content editor for LifeWay’s Threads, says he makes a point every day to read blogs, digital magazines, and websites that relate to writing or to his work with Millennials and young adults. Another way to keep the creativity flowing is to read beyond what you normally read. If you’re the type who only reads non-fiction, pick up a spy novel or book of short stories. Stretch your mind by reading something you don’t normally read.
Change your environment. Try moving your furniture around at home or rearrange the items on your desk. Drive a different route to work, to church, or to the store. You’ll be amazed at what you notice when you switch up your normal surroundings or routine.
Get moving. Bestselling author Seth Godin suggests taking regular 10-minute walks and coming back with at least five written ideas on how to improve what you offer the world.
Spend time with other creatives, thinkers, and visionaries. Bruce Nussbaum, author of Creative Intelligence refers to this as a creativity circle. I just call them friends. Try to find people who work outside your department or company and have diverse backgrounds and experiences. Meet on a regular basis over coffee, lunch, or dinner. Talk about projects you’re working on, share ideas and challenges. Surrounding yourself with smart, creative people will challenge you and spark new ideas.
Gather inspiration. Always be on the hunt for things that inspire you and move you to creativity. It can be images, headlines, book covers, articles, video clips, TV shows, anything. The idea is to have a stockpile of ideas you can go to for inspiration. I use Evernote to catalog the ideas and images I gather. The key is to revisit what you collect. Some of the things I’ve collected turn into concrete projects and other things get edited out. Student ministry’s Nate Farro says inspiration can be found anywhere, “you just have to be open to seeing it and in some cases open to it finding you. Keep an eye out for when that inspiration strikes.”
Manage your time. You need time to work, to create. If you’re going to do meaningful work, you need time to do it. Time is limited, so manage your time to its maximum potential. That means having to say no to some good things.
Unplug regularly. Allow time for thoughtful contemplation. Unplug from all your social media accounts, email, and phone, and enjoy a little solitude. It’s difficult for creative ideas to germinate and grow if you have constant distractions.
Listen to music. “There’s something about a melody, a lyric, a story in song that can nurture creative inspiration for me,” says Adam York. “One of my favorite new tools to expand my musical interests has been Spotify’s “Browse” feature. I’ve found some great new music by listening to some of Spotify’s pre-crafted stations throughout the day.”
Ignore your inner critic. You know, it’s that voice inside that says, “Oh, that’s a dumb idea, don’t tell anyone that. Everyone will hate it.” Try not to let your inner critic dampen your creativity. You never know when a dumb idea might turn into a great one.
Do something to serve someone else. Creative work can be all-consuming, and it’s easy to become so involved in our work that we forget about the world around us. Taking a break from our own concerns can help us tap into insights about the people around us.
Carol Pipes is Manager of Editorial Services at LifeWay Christian Resources.