The idea of learning to be more creative sounds like an oxymoron to most creative people. We seem to think being creative is like being left-handed – you’re either born that way, or you’re not. Either you can effortlessly churn out creative ideas, or you can’t.
We’re sorry to say it, but that thought process is a bit of a cop-out. Creativity is like any other talent – sure, you probably are born with it, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to work at it. The most rigid, logic-obsessed accountants can learn to be creative, and creative people can learn to let loose and reach new heights of ingenuity. We all just have to be willing to put the effort in. Here are a few things we can try.
Harness your powerful moods
The next time something happens in your life that sets you off in some way – whether it be anger or sadness – don’t just sulk until the feeling passes. Recognize your feelings, and then do your best to channel them into a creative outlet. There’s a reason so many pieces of incredible art will rip your heart out. It’s because the people who created that art put themselves and their intense emotions into it. Think of your favorite break-up song, or the most breathtaking passage in your favorite book. They started with a feeling.
Bore yourself silly
Hear us out. A study at the University of Central Lancaster found that between a group of people who had to copy out numbers from a phone book, and a control group that did no such thing, the group who had to complete the mind-numbing task of copying out phone numbers were capable of much more creative thinking than the control group immediately following the task. Researchers posited that it was because the phone number copying group were so bored, they naturally began to daydream, which jumpstarted their creative processes.
Mess up your workspace
The key to generating creative ideas may just be flinging your post-it notes. A pair of researchers at the University of Minnesota put one group of students in a tidy room, one group of students in a messy room, and asked them to come up with new ways to use a ping-pong ball. The group in the messy room were significantly more creative than the group in the tidy room. The researchers theorized that this was because a disordered environment encourages the brain to break free from traditional thinking.
Don’t give in to your cravings
We don’t have a study we can cite, but we do have Ernest Hemingway. When Hemingway was a young writer he would visit art galleries and stare at his favorite works on an empty stomach, then he would lock himself away in a room and write. He found his emotions and senses were heightened when he wasn’t eating or drinking and it helped inspire his works. And as you may know, Hemingway did okay as a writer.
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