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Getting Creative (when you don't feel like it)

You don’t need to be a writer to find being creative challenging. Here are three approaches to rekindle your creativity on off days:

Kickstart your inner child

As adults, we fall into the trap of thinking we know things, so we don’t explore further and this is the exact sticking point for creativity—a lack of curiosity. We often revisit what we know rather than exploring the new, letting our past experience dictate outcomes. For example, let’s take an omelet. Because I’ve made one hundreds of times, I will probably make the next one exactly the same way, overlooking other ingredients.

Children, however, explore, question, revisit and test ideas exhaustively every single day. Better yet, it’s not work, it’s play. Take a cue from your inner child and go out and discover. Seek new sources of information, read about subjects you’ve never explored before, or talk to new people about their view of the world. Empty your mind of what you know and explore. That stimulates creativity.

Lay a foundation

Stephen King isn’t a world-renowned author for nothing. His books scared the bejesus out of me and whoever’s read IT knows you’ll never look at a drain or gutter the same way again. King’s approach to writers is much shorter than his thick tomes to horror. In “On Writing,” he advises writers: Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.

Most of us claim we’re too busy to make time for creativity, but these are big, lousy excuses. Creativity takes time to show up. The means making small, consistent steps before you gain momentum. Creativity may disappear temporarily (as the Muse is naturally mysterious) but by showing up regularly, you lay the foundation. What you create today might sound like stale crap but tomorrow, you’ll have something to work with.

Do things backwards

According to this article, a scientific study of brain circuits confirms that humans are most creative first thing in the morning, immediately after sleep. The later in the day, the more our analytical brain kicks in, which is often a creativity killer. But…you don’t have to be a morning person. The article also mentions this study, which proves that we often have brilliant ideas at less ideal times. So, night owls might have that lightbulb moment in the morning, whereas morning people might get their a-ha moment heading off to bed. That’s because when we’re not focused on the task at hand or achieving outcomes, our minds are more open and we make different connections.

In other words, great ideas often slip in the door when your internal critic is most sluggish. You might have your best idea despite yourself.

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