Originally Published in CFRC’s ‘Listen Up’ Zine Jan. 2009
People are always telling me I’m creative. I don’t think I am. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that I don’t think that I am more creative than anyone else. I think that people disregard their own ability to be creative. Creativity, I think, is a skill that can be practiced. It is valuable, whether you are into architecture, scientific research, art, literature, or your own day-to-day living and problem solving. Here are a few tips to keep your creative juices flowing.
For starters, it’s always good to have a project on the go. For example, start a comic strip, film, book, or write a song or play. You can also find an established medium (like a magazine, art gallery, or radio station)and get involved with it. This is a good way to start because it’s hard to be creative when you have nothing to be creative for.
It’s important to realize that our thoughts can fall into habitual patterns. This wont help you at all! Your thought patterns and perceptions are changeable. Don’t get trapped in them! You need to change your perceptions and try to do things in a unique way, no matter how monotonous they may seem. This will get your brain used to finding novelty in stimulus.
It’s good to have a base to move off from. Try to build skills, explore and have positive motivation. Creativity also sometimes means taking risks and relying on a little ‘serendipity’ – because sometimes things just come together and ideas show up, seemingly out of nowhere.
It’s important to document ideas when you have them. Inspiration can come at any time, so make sure that you always have a pad of paper or sketch pad or whatever you need to jot the idea down. You might all of a sudden have some random song lyrics in your head and if you don’t write them down you might lose them. Salvador Dahli had a conrtraption that woke him up after he fell asleep and he would incorporate the dreamy visuals that came to him into his paintings.
The use of stream of conciousness, flow, and improvisation are also good ways to get ideas and to excersize the creative muscles in your brain. I like to just write without thinking sometimes. It gives you a good base of raw ideas that you can work off from. You never know what will come out and it just might be useful. It’s also therepeutic just to get things out.
Creativity is sometimes defined as finding a new link between two or more things. So it can be useful to introduce new ideas into your head to see what combination it will come up with. So pick words or images from a hat, look up words in a dictionary or thesaurus, or ask strangers questions and see what you can combine and create from that.
It’s important to seek out other as well. I find that inspiration is sometimes reciprocal, so let your friends be your muses. They can challenge you to come up with new ideas that bounce off of their own. Brainstorming is also a good way to stimulate your creative brain.
If you’re looking to get new ideas out, it is important to try new things and to go to new places. You never know what you’ll see in a new environment. And once again, please remember to feed your head. You brain will sort it into some web of thoughts and the raw information might work well with some other information that you already have in there.
One more important thing: your ideas or creations do not have to be perfect. I’ve noticed that over the years the percentage of useful content I come up with overall has increased. But there is always crap! No one can produce amazing stuff all of the time. You need to work at it. Be patient. The important part is that you do it without caring about whether it will suck or what people will think. Just do it. You can filter it out later.
Creativity is useful not only in the artistic realm, but in our own problem solving and in any career or life situation we may find ourselves in. So keep this in mind and think of your own ways to get things flowing. Your tired brain will thank you.