Creativity is demanded of us all at unprecedented rates.
Between posts, blogs, business concepts and other content, it seems as though the wheel of fresh ideas needs to be constantly churning — and human beings can struggle with consistent creativity enough as it is.
Historically, artists and writers and other creators could take a lifetime — or even just a few years— to work on a single project.
Today, the rate at which we are expected to create and consume is so rapid, it can feel as though we’ll get totally depleted so fast, we’ll never be able to keep up.
Let me tell you a secret about creativity: it’s not a well that runs dry, it’s a muscle that strengthens with use.
It’s not that you have to force yourself to keep up with unrealistic expectations, but that by doing the following, you’ll be able not only to get more creative now, but become better at having more ideas in the future.
The first problem is that most people look outward.
They try to get inspired by what other people are doing, saying, or thinking.
They look at other artists and creators and see what they’ve done and are doing well.
They try to create content that they imagine other people will like.
None of this works out usually, because it’s not authentic.
What you have to do instead is go inward.
Think of a problem you have and figure out how to solve it. Think about something that is bothering you and what you would need to tell yourself in order to feel better. Think of something you used to struggle with and how you stopped struggling with it.
Write, create or design from that place — inward, first.
Ask the questions that hurt.
Creativity often requires you go in deep.
The part of the brain that controls rumination — the amygdala—also affects creativity. Essentially, the deeper you’re willing to go, the more you’re going to come out with.
While you’re turning inward, start asking some real questions.
Why did one relationship work, and another didn’t?
What behaviors or thought patterns lead to your biggest failures?
What would your younger self need to know?
What emotion do you need to think it’s okay to feel?
The more raw you’re willing to get, the better.
Turn off the mainstream.
Sure, you can get your inspiration from what other powerful artists and creators are doing, but to really come up with your own ideas, you need to tune out for a little bit.
If you don’t, you end up unconsciously piecing together bits and pieces of what other people are doing.
Now, this is perfectly fine, and what most creatives do.
However, to really come up with something unprecedented and introduce a new thought, a new concept or a new art form to the collective, you need to unplug and use yourself as your main source.
Create what makes you feel something.
If psychoanalyzation doesn’t work for you, try a feeling-based approach.
Start with whatever simply makes you feel something strongly.
This could be a beautiful song, nature, an experience or a person.
Work with that feeling, re-create that feeling, explore that feeling, identify and analyze that feeling.
Emotion is the birthplace of creativity.
Don’t try to force it.
The more you try to make yourself be creative, the less you are.
This is because when you try to control how your creativity functions, you really end up shutting yourself off to new stimuli.
The whole point is to try to open yourself up to increase states of flow.
Forcing ≠ flowing.
Release unhealthy expectations about creating.
Something that holds many people back is the expectations they attach to creativity.
They assume that by trying harder, that will mean they naturally and immediately come up with a ground-breaking idea — not so.
Opening oneself to a better creative process is really the willingness to keep trying simple things, again and again, until one day a breakthrough is had.
Make an inspiration bundle.
For moments where you really need a new idea and you’re running out, create inspiration “bundles” for your life.
Make a mood board for your style.
Save a few phrases, images, or ideas that relate to the “big-picture” of your career.
Make a few playlists that move you and make you feel something.
Put on an outfit that makes you feel like yourself.
Visualize a place that makes you always feel something strongly — and visit if you can.
If you are someone who wants to consistently have ideas, you are going to have to be someone who is likewise consistently chasing questions, answers, and the pieces of life that make them feel most alive.