10 simple Ways to be More Creative
“I’m not creative.”
“Oh I could never make/do that”
“I’m not musical.” “I certainly DON’T dance.”
“I’m just not one of those ‘creative people.”
Ever catch yourself saying any of these?
If you have, stop it. Don’t say it anymore. There’s a LOT of creativity in you. If your creativity is a little shy, well, don’t insult it and scare it away even more. Creativity is a bit like a timid but brilliant little animal that can be coaxed to come near if you’re kind, consistent, and feed it a bit. Your creativity needs to trust you, and you need to trust it. Why, is it worth investing in your creativity?
A creative life is a FUN life, a life filled with limitless possibility. A person who is chronically creative sees opportunity where others only see obstacles. They boldly take on risks and achieve success because they know they will be able to find solutions along the way. And who doesn’t want that??
Artists aren’t the only people who need to develop their creativity: Creativity is for salespeople looking for a new way to reach their customer, for engineers looking to improve a product, for teachers looking for a way to inspire their students, parents seeking to engage with their children…
Every person NEEDS to be creative, every person IS creative, and every person can become even MORE creative.
So how does one go about deepening their creativity? Here are ten valuable habits that can help you draw out your own unique creativity…
1. Be proactive. Practice being creative in a context that’s safe and rather inconsequential. Stretch yourself to create in a way you haven’t before, in a way that really doesn’t matter a lick. Experiment, take creative risks, and even “fail,” without a high cost.
2. Be prolific. Saturate your days with little creative explorations. Draw a doodle on every restaurant check you get for a week. Carry your camera on any ordinary day and take some “artsy” shots. Turn off the radio on your commute and hum an original melody instead, even if you feel stupid. Listen to the sounds in traffic and decipher the rhythm on the street. Try to remember that rhythm and tap it out with your pencil later in the day. Go in your room and shut the door and dance. With or without music. Write a poem. Paint. Build. Knit. Make a sculpture out of butter. It doesn’t matter. Just make SOMETHING. And do it frequently. The more often you engage your creativity, the easier it is to access.
3. Be original. Exercise great caution when it comes to copying someone else’s work. Unless you’re able to duplicate it exactly, you’ll likely feel “less than” in comparison. Do your own thing!! You know those parties where everyone paints the exact same thing step-by-step? Ever tempted to exactly copy something you saw on Pinterest? Things like these are absolutely great but they don’t really count as your *own* creative thinking. Go deeper. Think about why you are attracted to a certain thing and then incorporate similar elements into something that’s originally yours.
4. Be a thief. Okay, yes, I just told you to be original… Now I’m going to tell you to do the opposite. Steal ideas as jumping off points for new ideas. Artists often say, “Everything has already been done before…” As a creative person, give yourself permission to borrow an old idea and run with it. Shamelessly. (But this should go without saying- DON’T copy someone’s work and call it your own! Give credit where credit is due.)
5. Be flexible. Be OK with letting the finished result differ, even greatly, from your original idea. One of the biggest hindrances to the creative process is defining the finished result before it’s finished. Of course sometimes you know what a finished product needs to be and the real challenge is trying to figure out how to arrive *exactly* there. But if that’s not your task, just let something develop organically, let it speak to you as you go. Start a drawing, a poem, a story, anything, with no particular end in mind and see where it goes.
6. Become limitless by imposing limitation. Sometimes too many options can be paralyzing to creative thought. Give yourself some boundaries to work within. You can create boundaries with the materials you use, with the concept, or with time… Create a poem using ONLY the words on the back of your cereal box. Make a silly dance that initiates with only the elbows. Take photographs of things that are found at waist high. Write a story in only two minutes. Then, once you’ve got the ball rolling, you can lift the limitation if you desire.
7. Be absurd. Don’t worry about making sense when you’re practicing being creative. People’s opinions are of no consequence here. Don’t judge yourself or what you make. If you feel silly, that’s ok. Feel silly and keep going. If people raise eyebrows, let them. Everything new seems foreign and strange at first. Go with it.
8. Be an audience. You’re also practicing being creative when you appreciate other people’s creations. Go to a museum and spend a little time taking in the exhibits. Don’t worry about whether or not you “get it.” Just consider the color, the texture, the design, let your mind arrive at any meaning it comes up with. Change your radio station, frequently. If you know the words to every song on the radio, you’re boring your creative brain to death. It’s time to branch out into another genre. Notice how listening to a jazz station affects your mood vs listening to a classical station vs a country station. Keep an open mind and make yourself listen to new music. Don’t worry about whether you “like” it or not. Just take it in and wait…
9. Be a collector. Saturate your senses and stock your memory with snippets of information for later use. Close your eyes and touch things (fabrics, produce, whatever) just to consider the texture. Flip magazines from the back to the front, don’t necessarily read for content but briefly scan for phrases and images that jump out at you. Let your brain fill in the gaps. Keep a Pinterest board or create a literal bulletin board of pictures that speak to you. Take note of new or interesting words and write them down. People watch. Watch their walk, their gestures, watch the way they interact. Close your eyes next time you’re in a crowded place and listen to the many sounds. And then, just remember. Store the information as fodder for later creative endeavors.
10. Be a collaborator. When you’re ready, try creating with another person. Paint together on the same canvas. Create a story with your kids by taking turns adding a sentence at a time. Take an existing poem and sing it to a melody of your own. There are lots of ways to create with another human being. When we put our creative minds together, there’s no telling what we can achieve…
Choose a couple of these steps to try and commit to incorporating them into your life for one week. Once you have the hang of them, add in a couple more. It won’t be long before you’ll feel your creative juices flowing and your artistic horizons expanding exponentially. Without changing a single circumstance, you life may begin to look a little brighter, and people and places may become more interesting as you learn to engage creatively. You’ll likely begin to feel your confidence in general increase as you realize that you, too, ARE a very capable and creative person, indeed!
Sky-Marie McDonald is a multi-disciplinary artist whose passion for the arts and culture has lead her throughout the United States and abroad. Of particular interest to her is the effect of the Arts on society as a barometer of cultural health, and the Arts as a vehicle for positive social change. Sky-Marie has had the privilege of studying under some of the premier artists in the dance and theatre scene, in NYC and beyond. She has spearheaded research projects to preserve Native American Dance forms on reservations, taught in outreach projects to children in rural Central America, developed and implemented inner-city outreach programs for at-risk youth and founded arts programs for displaced children in shelters. She has been the recipient of various awards for her choreography and has had several works of poetry published. In 2012 she founded Early Spring Arts Conservatory in Southlake, TX, a non-profit organization committed to helping children and pre-professional artists reach their artistic potential. She currently serves as the school’s Artistic Director and the choreographer for the resident dance company, Early Spring Dance Theatre. She teaches dance, photography, costume design and construction, drama, and visual art. Besides her work with the Conservatory, she is also the owner of SkyMarie Photography Inc. and is sought after for her unique perspective in photodocumentary storytelling and portraiture for weddings, families, and professionals.