colored pencils in a silver cup

Stuck? Six Surprisingly Simple Ways to Boost Your Creativity

Go for a walk

woman walking her dog

 Honestly if it wasn’t for my dog, I probably wouldn’t walk nearly as much as I do, especially on days when I’m forced to bundle up and brace myself for the freezing wind whipping at my face. But how can I refuse my pup’s sweet face begging me for an outdoor adventure?

It turns out that in addition to keeping me and my dog healthier and happier, walking also enhances my creativity.

A Stanford study found that your creative output increases by 60 percent (!) while walking— whether you’re strolling your neighborhood trail or trudging on a treadmill while staring at a blank wall.

Sadly, the extreme and exceptionally cold weather conditions many of us have been experiencing these past couple of weeks means less outdoor time right now.

But keep reading because there other ways to tap your well-spring of creativity!

Do something mundane

There's nothing like boredom to make you write. Agatha Christie

Cleaning, showering, blowing my hair dry, folding laundry—these are all mundane activities that I do that seem to spark creative inspiration. In this relaxed state, I’m more likely to come up with the perfect tagline for a client’s home page, a new article idea or resolve a character development dilemma in my novel.

Why do routine activities help us with creative problem-solving or with sparking new ideas?

When we do rote activities that don’t require much intellectual concentration, our minds tend to wander–and boom–the birth of a new idea! Don’t believe me? Check out just one of multiple research studies.

Since we live in a society that seems to frown on us just sitting around daydreaming—Quick, look busy!— that boring task not only helps you accomplish a boring to-do, it gives your magical mind the space it needs to go about creatively building your empire! 😉 

Color

colored pencils in a silver cup

When was the last time you sat around and doodled with your child or grabbed a box of markers and colored in an adult coloring book? Coloring is a meditative activity that relaxes the mind and help with stress and anxiety.

The colors you use can also boost your creativity. Blue and green, in particular, are supposed to be especially effective.

If coloring isn’t your jam, try another art form. Personally I enjoy sketching mandalas and then coloring them in with gel pens. I was also recently introduced to watercoloring through a virtual class that I took. It was a surprisingly relaxing and creative outlet that doesn’t require many expensive supplies. There are numerous tutorials online if you’d like some inspiration or a quick 101.

Capture the spirit of travel

Travel allows us to experience unfamiliar places, explore diverse cultures and meet new people, which can be an enormous source of inspiration for our hungry, curious brains.

While it’s not possible for us to do much traveling right now, exploring a new-to-you hiking trail or park, preparing an exotic meal or even watching a documentary or a TV series that takes place in another part of the world or time period can inspire creativity. A friend recently shared a link to Rick Steve’s travel documentaries around Europe, which is a fun way to explore from the comfort of home.

And check out this fun list of documentaries meant to spark creativity! 

I’ve also found creative inspiration watching period dramas on Netflix, like The Crown, Outlander, Bridgerton and The Queen’s Gambit. In addition to the captivating story lines, the fashions, diverse characters, hairstyles, colors and set designs are a feast for the eyes.

Collage

While I haven’t done this in awhile, collage is a simple and easy way that helps me get out of a creative funk.

All you need is a few magazines, a pair of scissors, a glue stick and a notebook or poster board. Cut out inspiring photos and quotes. Create your own sayings out of letters you cut out. Then, paste everything on the page in an arrangement that feels good to you.

If I’m particularly motivated, I’ll squirt a few different colors of acrylic paint on the page and create a marble effect across the page with an expired ATM card (which you can see I did in the above photo example). After it’s dry, I’ll paste pictures over it.

Dance 

Woman dancing

My family gave me an Amazon Alexa for Christmas. I especially love using the device to play all of my favorite 80s tunes. When some of these songs come on, I can’t help breaking out into dance in my living room much to the horror of my teenaged sons!

While my 13-year-old might be particularly mortified by my behavior, he should be thrilled to learn that dancing boosts my mood. Not only that, the movement, much like walking, also stimulates my creativity.

I thought this was an interesting article about how moving our bodies can help with problem solving and learning.  I also enjoyed this blog post from Artship, which discusses the benefits of dance to enhancing creativity.

So put on your favorite tunes, whatever they are, and DANCE!

Rest

person with her feet up

You just can’t think straight or come up with cool, novel ideas if you’re tired. The pandemic, the divisive political environment, violence in the news, stir-crazy families and WINTER can do a number on our energy levels.

I’m sort of embarrassed to admit it, but there have been days over the past year when I’ve thrown my jammies on and crawled into bed by 7:30 p.m. out of sheer exhaustion. Was I teetering on burn-out? Maybe, but fortunately I’m coming around to the realization that honoring my body’s needs means I can have the energy to create to my heart’s content later when I’m rested.

Some people take naps to recharge. Others simply close their eyes for a few minutes each day to pray, meditate or do nothing at all. Give yourself permission to rest and watch your creativity flourish once again.

If any of these ideas seem playful, you’re on the right track. Tapping your playful spirit is key to a more creative life. From playing board games to experimenting with new recipes in your kitchen, the ways to unclog a creative logjam are endless and FUN! 

What are your favorite ways to inspire creativity?

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