Unlock your creativity block in 10 steps
No matter how creative you are, we’ve all dealt with that dreadful stuck feeling. If you say you haven’t, you’re lying. Here are my 10 ways to help you unlock your creativity block.
Whether you’re creating a catchy marketing campaign, designing beautiful websites, capturing stunning pictures, or making up a bedtime story for your child, being creative helps you do anything better.
But sometimes, you stare at blank screen. Your right hand grips the mouse tightly, your left holds a cup of coffee. It’s already as black outside as your coffee (you wouldn’t dream of taking the drink any other way). The sun’s been down for hours. You are alone in an empty office, and you know it will be a long evening before your muse deigns to pay you a visit. Everyone knows what it’s like to be stuck in this creative twilight zone.
“Everybody is a genius,” said Einstein. I mean, that’s easy for him to say. But I think there is some truth in that. Everyone is born with ‘creative muscle.’ Like every other muscle, you should stimulate it, train it, and maintain it, or it will atrophy.
Here are 10 of my favorite strategies that help when my own creativity drains out.
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1. Eat healthy
Being creative is not all in your head. A healthy body make a healthy mind, so load up on fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, and eggs.
Tim Ferriss, the writer of ‘The 4-Hour Body’ and Donald Layman, professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Illinois recommend, independently of each other, 30 grams of protein for your breakfast alone.
Pablo Picasso, master in creativity, ate a lot of fish and spinach. Even Popeye does the same. I know Popeye is known better for brawn than brains, but we don’t know what he does in his spare time….a tattoo studio for other sailor men?
2. Creativity in your diet
“In order to make a delicious food you must eat delicious food, without good taste, you can’t make good food” said Jiro Ono. Mr. Ono is a Japanese chef and owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a three-Michelin-starred Japanese sushi restaurant in Tokyo.
To create something beautiful you need to feed your creativity with good soul foods. Eating a wide variety of colorful and well-prepared foods will ensure your brain has everything it needs to get down to business.
If you are a web or graphic designer visit AWWWARDS, read Medium, explore Dribbble, subscribe to Smashing Magazine, watch inspire footage on Vimeo, and follow TED’s lectures. There are enough good online sources to feed your creative soul.
3. Do exercise
Big companies such Nike, Google and Microsoft offer their employees free fitness programs. Movement stimulates blood circulation. You body produces endorphins when you’re exercising, which make you feel happy and relaxed: exactly the mood you need to be in to crank out some great work.
4. Less work
I know this sounds counterintuitive, but bear with me.
Turn your smartphone off, take a walk, go to the park or the beach with your dog. If you don’t have one, borrow a scruffy little buddy from your friend or neighbor. Fresh air and detachment from your work day will give more space in your creativity brain.
Stephan Aarstol is the CEO and founder of Tower Paddle Boards, a company with USD 10 million revenue, one of the fastest growth company in San Diego. He and his employees work only 5 hours a day!
They go from 8 o’clock in the morning till 1 p.m, and the rest of the day they are free. And guess what, they never get sick, and they clearly run a top-notch business. It sounds pretty good, huh?
In order to make a delicious food you must eat delicious food, without good taste, you can’t make good foodJiro Ono
5. Pen and paper
I honestly believe that nothing can beat pen and paper.
There are 2 limitations when you use computer tools: first, every software has its own intrinsic limitations to create things.
Second your computer skill will narrow your creativity. Your computer skills will be the ceiling to your creative ability.
Bring pen and paper everywhere you go. Whether you’re walking your dog or you’re in the shower, you never know where and when brilliance might strike.
6. Ask questions
Start with why, how, what, when. Look around you and question why things can’t be different.
Google has a secret lab it calls “Google X.” They work on more than 100 projects at a time with the main aim of designing the future. Some of the projects that have seen the light of day are Google Glass and Google’s self-driving cars.
All of these engineering marvels started with one question: “What if.”
7. Try something new
Being creative is about taking leaps of imagination, trying new things, and seeing what happens.
It’s all about throwing caution to the wind.
Try out a crazy idea or technique, change up your normal workflow, or cut and paste your work in new and exciting ways.
Sometimes I just think to myself, “What’s the most ridiculous way I could go about this project?” You’d be surprised with how well this can turn out. Many of these experiments will fail, but creativity is about finding the one unheard-of new thing that succeeds.
Pick a beautiful work from someone else and make your own analysis. The color scheme, the texture, the fonts and images. Break down the compositions, make notations you amaze with or less agree with. Deconstructing things will make your brain pro-active.
9. Simply start now
Just do it. It is more than just 3 simple words. Just put a line on your paper and start with something simple. When I’m especially stuck and don’t really have time to be, I just start free-writing or drawing until something sticks. Don’t wait for an inspiration, just create one. Sometimes only a fraction of what I’ve written is useable (or even legible), but I at least have SOMETHING.
10. Early to bed, early to rise
Only 1% of the human population needs less than 6 hours a day sleep.
Statistically speaking, you’re probably not in that 1%. Sorry.
Getting enough sleep is not a waste of time. Sleep is just as important as eating and drinking water.
Our brain gets energy, and our body cleans the waste substances from your body. Scientists aren’t sure exactly why we sleep, but almost everyone agrees we all need it.
Sleep now, work better later. We’re diurnal creatures. When you wake up early, you have more time for planning, thinking, and creating.
Frank Lloyd Wright started his early morning with sketching and designing on his drafting table. The early morning is very conducive to creative thinking because you haven't yet gotten stuck in the small details that can easily fill your day. Read "Daily Rituals” by Mason Currey for some more info on this.
There’s no real formula for creativity, I believe that’s kinda the point, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t push ourselves in the right direction.