Creativity can seem complicated, paradoxical and unknowable. Neuroscience has broken down the right/left brain dichotomy where the right brain is responsible for creativity and the left side for rational thought. No, the other left! But creativity is a fusion of cognitive processes, personality traits, habits and societal influences. So while there is no one creative type, there are a constellation of behaviors that can help you build creativity as a skill.
In this latest 18|8 blog, let’s have a look at making creativity a habit:
1. Rise and Shine
Not everyone is a morning person and not every creative person is a morning person. However, in researching “¬Daily Rituals: How Artists Work”, editor Mason Currey found that full one third of the 161 people featured in the book woke at 7 a.m. or even earlier. Working early in the morning is a respected method to fit creativity into a busy life and ensure you are making your creative work a priority. To build the habit of early to bed and early to rise, simply stick with it. Resist the siren call of the afternoon nap in favor of going to bed at a set (early!) time every day and rolling out of bed to the alarm before you’ve had time to argue yourself out of it. Hey, if Hemingway could rise at 5 a.m. to write after a night’s hard drinking, you can get up even after watching the Late Show.
2. Get Your Sweat On
Science has repeatedly proven the myriad benefits of exercise, and creativity is no exception. A study from Stanford showed that 90% of people become more creative following exercise. The journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience took this even further, finding that regular exercise helped both divergent and convergent thinking, meaning the ability to think of multiple solutions for a problem and also thinking of just one solution to a problem, respectively. Make sure to include exercise as a part of your regular routine to stimulate creativity.
3. Limit Yourself
And on that note, make sure you have a regular routine. Creativity thrives best not in chaos, but in structure. Self-imposed limitations actually enhance creativity by forcing people to push outside their comfort zone and find new ways to achieve their goals and express themselves. One famous example is that Dr. Suess wrote Green Eggs & Ham as the result of a bet challenging him to create a book using less than 50 different words.
4. Keep Your Day Job
Creative people are intrinsically motivated, meaning they create for themselves and the satisfaction it brings. Having a day job allows you the financial security to follow your passion, and also lets you create what you love simply because you love it, not because it pays your rent. Having a regular job also gives you structure and as discussed, a set schedule enhances creativity. Also, don’t tell your boss this, but some studies have found that daydreaming while bored at work can help with creativity as well.
5. The World is Your Workplace
Learning to color outside the lines means learning to do your coloring anywhere you choose, literally as well as figuratively. All of life is an opportunity for self-expression, and you can do creative work anywhere – don’t wait for the perfect time or place. Seek out new experiences and stay open to them; get curious about the world and take advantage of the little nuggets of time that every day has, whether it’s on the train in the morning on the way to work or sitting in a park on the weekend.
6. Step Over Creative “Blocks”
The best way to get creative is to create. Step around any so-called creative blocks, go over them, or go through them. You can always edit poor work, but you have to actually produce work in order to refine it. Creative people fail constantly. Choose to not be afraid of failure and to ignore roadblocks. Recognize that some of the world’s most creative work came out of abject failure simply because someone chose to keep creating.