In our last post, we mentioned that while creative output is important, you shouldn’t put yourself down if it seems like you’re having a creative block. Creativity, like many things, requires time, awareness, courage, and rest. Sometimes, having a creative block can increase creative output.
We are all naturally creative. Everyone is born with a natural need to create. But then, you may be asking, why do some people seem to be “more creative” than others?
We’re not talking about the ability to paint a masterpiece or sing in the opera – those who can do those have talent, which is different from creativity.
That’s right, there’s a difference between talent and creativity. Talent is an ability that you are born with. You didn’t choose it, and you can’t change it.
Creativity, on the other hand, is your ability to construct something unique. Think about it in terms of a photographic perspective – everyone can take the same picture of something, but it’s what you bring to it that makes it seem like something different. The more you add to the composition, the more creative you are. The more you let yourself play with lighting, angles, perspectives and tone, the more creative you can become.
That being said, creativity can be worked on; there is always room for it to grow. You can always increase your creative output – you just need to work on it.
Here are some things you can do to increase your creative output:
1. Take an improv class
In order to come up with a great idea, you need to give yourself permission to want to come up with that idea. That kind of attitude starts with saying “yes, and…” to everything, even if it seems impossible. In an improv class, that’s the first thing you learn. You learn to say “yes” to your partners, ideas and concepts, and consequently, great, new things are created; the moment you say “no,” everything stops. The team behind My Creative Break actually met at improv classes. My Creative Break started with one of us asking “What if we built a community that motivates people to make time for creativity?” and without knowing what that involves, we said “yes, and…” and a few months later, we’ve got a website, a creative guide, a social community and many more things on the way that first seemed hard to achieve.
2. Unplug in Nature
Spending time outdoors is good for creativity. Cognitive neuroscientist David Strayer has done decades of scientific research on how creativity relates to the outdoors. He has found that spending time in nature is an effective antidote to the amount of time we spend in front of our digital devices. He did an interesting experiment where he took 50 backpackers hiking for four days and gave them the same creativity test before and after. After four days out in nature, they all did twice as well. So get out, go hiking, biking, take a walk by the lake, run the in park, look at birds, gaze at stars. When you get back to your creative work, you might have a new idea or perspective.
3. Break the rules and ask “What if?”
The most original ideas are the one that break the rules. If you want to come up with something innovative, train yourself to go against tradition. Ask yourself the most creative “what if” questions you can think of. “What if it were a different shape or color?” “What if it could talk?” “What if it were a mix of three of our competitor’s products?” “What if it were ten times bigger?” “What if an alien created it?” You might come up with a very creative idea that way.
4. Travel or explore
There has been some scientific research linking travel to increased cognitive flexibility. I believe it – whether you’re traveling in a new country, or exploring your own neighborhood, travel always gives you the opportunity to be exposed to new things that could influence your idea generation. You’ll find new street art, meet new people, come across strange animals, try new foods, find out about the dog who lives in a box on the next street over – things like these shape who we are and how we think, so get out there and discover new things.
What do you do to increase creative output? Let us know!