10 Surprising Techniques to Jump Start Your Creativity

Creative Photo of Little Girl Looking at Man in Bubble Against Blue Sky

photo credit: Eddi van W. via photopin cc

Have you experienced writer’s block, suffered through a dry spell or had your creativity completely flat line?

No matter what profession you’re in or where you are in life, there will be times when your ability to create something new hits the wall. Any and all creative juices that were once flowing dry up and you find yourself struggling to create something… just anything.

Brain constipation can strike at any time and in any circumstance, but mostly rears its ugly head when there’s a deadline looming over your head.

I’m a firm believer that each of us, at our deepest cores, have the DNA that makes us creative. It’s the spark that ignites the brilliant ideas of our generation. It’s the fire that burns inside of us to keep us going – even against all odds. It’s the fuel that causes us to keep looking for bigger, brighter and better ways to run successful businesses and to keep ourselves healthy.

However, there are times that the ability to create can be as fickle as the flying air.

So what do you do when your mental process comes to a screeching halt?

Here’s some uncommon strategies to kick start that melon of yours, boost your creativity and turn yourself into an idea generating machine.

1. Change Your Scenery

Sitting and starring at a blank computer screen or canvas is not only unproductive, it’s insane.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. ~ Albert Einstein

A change as small as moving to another area of your office, walking to another room in your home or even getting some fresh air outside can stimulate your thought process and unleash your inner creative.

My biggest source for inspiration and idea generation comes from taking road trips just taking a drive for the sake of driving. It’s the perfect solution to break the monotony.

2. Turn Yourself Around

Observe the masses and do the opposite. ~ Walt Disney

Have you accidentally programmed yourself into a particular reaction when you’ve hit a creation slump? Stop what you’re doing and approach the creative process from the opposite direction. The mere act of attacking an issue from a different angle (or even backwards) throws a wrench into your brain’s methodology.

Don’t worry though, your head won’t explode in a bad way, it will just explode with new thoughts and ideas!

3. Swap Your Sleeping Habits

Are you a morning person or do you burn the midnight oil? Switch it around. Even our brains can get drained performing the same mental dance day after day. Change the choreography, put on a new tune and kick up your thought pattern heels.

4. Unplug

Technology might be the best thing since sliced bread, but it can smother you to death with its “reach you wherever you are” intentions.

Would the world really stop spinning and baskets of kittens die if you muffled your cell phone for an hour or unhooked yourself from your e-mail leash for the day?

I doubt it.

5. Start A Conversation with a Stranger

This is an easy task for an extrovert like myself, but for all you introverts out there, it could just be the creativity barrier breaker you need (mixed with an adrenaline pumping scare session.)

There’s no need to spend hours on end talking about the moon, the stars and the fate of all mankind, just exchange some niceties and see where the conversation leads.

6. Come To Your Senses

Uncover new channels to give your creativity a boost using your five senses – see, hear, touch, smell and taste.

  • See – Learn how to be a people watcher. Imagine what life would be like for you if you were another person’s shoes.
  • Hear – Head to the park, close your eyes and take in the sounds of the world around you. Did you hear sounds and noises that you would have otherwise missed because you couldn’t “see” them?
  • Touch – From furry kittens to textured marble, oh the stories these textures could tell. Let your mind wander to create the rest of the story.
  • Smell – Scientists say that our sense of smell is the most powerful memory maker. When you smell maple pancakes what do you think about? How about the jolt of cup of Colombian coffee?
  • Taste – And speaking of coffee, one day I made it my mission to sample several different coffee blends at  my local coffee shop. It sparked a conversation with the barista that spilled over to several shop patrons. Isn’t it funny how food becomes the universal ice breaker?

7. Rediscover Daydreaming

Go find yourself a lush patch of grass, spread out your favorite blanket and lay down for a spell. Count how many animals you can make out of the cloud formations. See if you can number the shades of blue in the sky. Maybe imagine what life would be like on another planet. The sky’s the limit when it comes to being creative.

8. Keep Happy Little Reminders

There are sometimes that your creativity lays dormant until it is called upon to perform and at other times, it’s in overdrive and screaming full speed ahead.

That’s why it’s important to capture all the creativity you can for use when your mental wells run dry.

Need some ideas?

  • Write them down with pen and paper (or moleskin if you prefer)
  • Use an app on your smartphone (I use Evernote and have a file called “Colleen’s Brain Dump” to prove it)
  • Write yourself an e-mail with notes and details
  • Record yourself speaking to listen to (or transcribe) later
  • Send yourself a text message

9. Act Like A Kid

Go ahead, channel your inner 5 year old and let your imagination run wild. Spend some time in the kitchen making your favorite breakfast from childhood. Plop yourself in front of the TV (or computer) and treat your creative side to a marathon of Bugs Bunny or Tom & Jerry cartoons.

When I was a munchkin, my favorite Saturday morning ritual was rolling myself into a blanket like a burrito, laying on the floor and watching School House Rock.

10. Give Yourself a Break

Just as your body can’t be worked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, your creativity needs time for rest and relaxation. Ironically it’s usually during this rest and relaxation period when our minds generate a tidal wave of fresh new ideas. The trick is to keep an even balance and to remember to feed and nurture your creativity.

Colleen


Have you tried any of these tips yourself? Maybe you’re got a tried and true method to restart your own creative juices or to just keep the creativity river flowing. I’d love to hear from you. Share your own experiences so others can learn from you.

Colleen Conger

Colleen Conger is owner and lead pixel alchemist (graphic/web designer/photo specialist) at Digital Photo and Design, LLC. She's a self-confessed Starbucks addict, font freak and geeky tech girl. Connect with her personally on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. You can also follow Digital Photo and Design on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube and Dribbble.
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  1. says

    Great post Colleen…I often roar or dance or vigorously clean or all 3 as it is often to shift the energy…and sometimes to go with the apparent block – which I did recently and then whoop bang shazam, when I sat down to write what I had been resisting it flowed out of me at the speed of light and superbly. I guess my advice to add to yours is don’t make it bad as then you create a whole set of issues to deal with … sometimes what appears as a pause in flow is also necessary ;-)
    Sarupa Shah lovingly created…7 Tips to grow your own authenticityMy Profile

    • says

      Oh Sarupa, I just want to take your comment and make it into a quotable graphic! I can just see you jazzing around your place scrubbing, singing and dancing :-D

      You’re absolutely right about the shift in energy. Whether it’s working out, or like you said, getting up off of your butt and doing something, it gets the blood pumping to shake the cobwebs out of our heads.