In my own writing career, I have noticed that there are two ways that each help me to be creative, and get me to that “creative space” faster and easier than just sitting at the computer and trying to “be creative.”
The two ways are polar opposites, but I have found that doing both regularly has been a reliable method of finding inspiration, and having a deep well of ideas that I can use for creative writing, business writing, blog writing, and everything in between. First is emptying your brain, and second is filling your brain.
Emptying your brain.
When I say this I mean getting away from what you’re doing that requires you to be creative. Whether you’re an artist, writer, or otherwise, you need to clear out the clutter of your mind and make some space for fresh ideas.
For me, the best way to do this is to get out into nature. Go camping, go for a weekend hike, go sailing for a day or two. Camping in the mountains of Utah was a sure-fire way to forget everything that I was worrying about and let my mind work on autopilot for a few hours or days. I continue to do the same here in Chicago.
It’s hard to explain, but you will find that your creative subconscious comes back to work with many more ideas than normal. Sometimes you’re inspired by the nature around you. Other times just having nothing to think about while you sit at the side of a lake with nothing to do allows your mind to spend time thinking about what you really want to think about, without being influenced by everybody and everything else.
When you are completely without distraction, you’ll be surprised at what ideas you come up with unaided.
Filling your brain.
By this, I mean to flood your mind with the kind of content by which you want to be inspired. If you’re a writer, read every possible thing you can about what you want to write. If you’re an artist spend time just looking, admiring, and thinking about the kind of art you want to create. If you’re an architect, go look at the buildings, read about the styles, and walk through the projects that you want to build.
When all you have to think about is fuel for future projects and work, then your mind is going to be busy putting it all together — taking it apart and mashing ideas together. Our brain does this naturally (really) and we often notice it the most during our dreams, or after we wake up. This is because our mind uses this downtime to use whatever fuel you gave it to mix it up into new ideas.
Ever watched a movie or read a book the day before and that was all you dreamed about that night? Now imagine that power when all you consumed was stuff you wanted to replicate.
Don’t fall for the gimmicks
Don’t let someone tell you there are “left- and right-sided brains” or there are “creative people and there are analytical people.”
That “science” has been debunked a hundred times over. It’s used today for two reasons: for people to excuse themselves from work they don’t want to do and give themselves a reason for failure, and for some people to sell you products to “boost your creativity.”
Don’t fall for it.
The only thing separating the creative people from the non-creative is the desire to be creative. Every single app, $500 course, tutorial, “hack,” or “secret tip” is one of the two suggestions above spun in a different way. They either teach you to empty your brain or fill your brain with the right stuff.
If you struggle with being creative, take a step back, take a breath, and take an honest look at how you spend your time.
Oftentimes, our lack of creativity is a symptom of having someone else fill our mind with junk, instead of filling it ourselves. By emptying it completely, or by filling it deliberately with what we want, we take control of what we think about, and let our mind do its best work.
Read more about the left/right brain nonsense, and how to stop marginalizing yourself, HERE.