Human beings are creative machines. It is one of the main characteristics that distinguishes us from the rest of the living world. But with all the toil and turmoils of life, sometimes our brains just don’t function as we expect them to. So how do we train our brains to go back to those childhood days when our creative abilities shot out of the roof and lived in some kind of space world or fairytale land? In other words, how do we get ourselves to think more creatively?
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Being able to think more creatively is a born talent to some and a practiced skill for others. In any case, it can always benefit from a little pinch of inspiration. Practicing creative thought is a great way to inspire yourself to create more, a panacea for stuck projects and writer’s block, and just makes living in the world a better and more satisfying experience.
But, when it comes to beginning your journey into creative thinking, where’s a good place to start? That is exactly what this article is for. With these quick tips, you should be able to learn some of the best starting spots to inspire creative thought, some of the skills which will help you live creatively and have more inventive ideas, and, in general, find yourself new avenues to enjoy your everyday life with more verve and flowing creative juices.
1. Look at art of all kinds
Whenever I find my creative thinking halted, either through being troubled by concerns or through no longer being as satisfied by my projects anymore, it’s usually a sign that I haven’t been looking at enough art.
Looking at the ways that other people take the same art that I would create, and take it in vastly different directions usually helps me a great deal, especially when it means going out of my usual routine to look at new artworks.
For this reason, going to art museums is a wonderful way to start thinking creatively – especially museums that aren’t your usual interests.
If you’re a big fan of traditional art styles, consider going to a modern art museum! If you like visual art, consider going to a poetry reading instead, and seeing some of the ways that art can be created beyond your personal niche. While it might not necessarily inspire you to make modern art, or write poetry, if those aren’t already within your creative skillset, it can help you think outside of the box, and might fill you with new and exciting ideas.
2. Go back to your youth
Another way to inspire creative thought is to go back to your youth.
Something that I like to remind myself often is that one of the connecting features in all intelligent animals – humans, elephants, crows, dolphins, and others – is that we all play!
Playing is one of the ways that we enrich our brain and engage the parts of it related to problem solving and adapting to new situations, all of which might not seem relevant to thinking creatively, but is actually a huge component of it.
Through problem solving skills and playfulness, you can find new avenues to fields that might seem well-trodden and familiar to you, which can help break through creative blocks and make new ideas bubble up to the surface. Some games you might play are simple puzzles, like jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, sudoku, or more physically active ones, like role-playing games or hide and seek with your young kids. If all of those aren’t your thing, think about investing in a few nicer desk toys to have while you work.
Take frequent breaks, and allow yourself to step out of your current circumstances to play around for a little bit, and, soon enough, you’ll find yourself returning to your work energised and with greater creative capacity.
3. Don’t worry about success or failure
In the same vein as the last two ideas, you can try to encourage creative thought by allowing yourself to try new things without worrying about whether they’ll be a success or not.
If something you like to do is paint to express your creativity, and you find yourself running out of ideas or abandoning projects halfway because you aren’t happy with them, it could be an indicator that you’re under too much stress to succeed in your endeavours, and that stress is preventing you from being satisfied with what you create.
Something that might help with that is starting out with a new field that you’ve never tried before. If you’re a writer, for example, you can try to record and edit audio instead, or if you’ve only ever painted digitally, you might try to get some nice paper and charcoal and play around with creating artwork in that medium for a few days.
The best case scenario here is that you end up discovering a whole new avenue to direct your creative outlets, and, with new mediums, come new ideas.
However, the low stress nature of starting out in a field where there’s no pressure for you to succeed is that you see that you can create artworks that aren’t necessarily up to par, but are still not failures by any means.
Artwork that is fun to create and allows you to express yourself creatively is, by nature, never a failure, and deserves to exist and be celebrated. When you feel more comfortable to experiment, and even experiment unsuccessfully, it might lower the pressure of creating regardless, and invite more creative thought into your life.
The common thread of all of these suggestions is that they depend on one thing at all times: lowering the pressure and stressors involved in your life, and adding in their place more joy and playfulness.
Creativity depends not only on creative output, but also creative input – if you want to create art, you also have to enjoy art, and fill your life with art.
The best way to be a more creative person is to celebrate and engage with all kinds of creative outlets, even some that may be past your comfort zone, and to lower your personal bar of entry by not being afraid to fail at them.
Another, final thing to consider is that all of these are not exclusive solutions, and while one might make you think creatively one day, it might not another day. The solution to this is to not think of any one practice as an immediate cure-all, but to instead consider all of these as part of a lifelong routine, among many other activities and self care that enrich your life and leave you feeling refreshed, energised, and healthier. Think of them not only as fixes to a problem, but things to do routinely to improve your mental health and creative ability.