Top 10 ways to fuel your creativity

The New Oxford American Dictionary defines creativity as “the use of the imagination, or original ideas…” and while the use of original ideas may seem like an easy task, you and I both know how difficult it can really be.

Simply coming up with creative ideas can be extremely hard and time consuming, especially for - but not limited to - creative professionals; finding advice on fueling creativity is almost just as hard.

That’s why I have compiled this list of the top 10 ways to fuel your creativity. Use these methods whenever your creative juices are running low, and do your best to follow as many of the points as you can.

10. Carry a notepad with you. Creativity strikes when you least expect it, and when it does, you’ll need to be prepared. Get into the habit of carrying around a small notebook and a pen, or use your smart phone or other device to record creative ideas when they hit you. Even if the idea seems pointless at the time, having it written down may help you in the future when you are struggling to come up with creative ideas. Don’t say you’ll get a notepad tomorrow, buy one right now and find a way to take it with you everywhere you go.

9. Give yourself a break. Being able to write down creative ideas whenever you get them is a great start to fueling your creativity, but - if you’re like me - that isn’t going to be enough. In order to fuel your creativity you need to take time to relax and find creativity in everyday life. If you feel overwhelmed or stressed, your creative juices will be running slowly; but if you feel relaxed and comfortable, your mind will be more open to new, creative ideas.

8. Jolt your thinking. Another great way to fuel your creativity is to do what Chuck Green refers to as “jolt” thinking. It’s a technique that allows you to draw creative ideas from everything else around you by applying restrictions to your thinking. Here’s how you do it: when you need an idea simply close your eyes, turn around or change your perspective, open your eyes and then the first thing you see when you open your eyes is going to be your topic; try to come up with a creative idea related that incorporates the item - or the purpose of the item. Jolted thinking is based on the simple fact that freedom often hinders creativity.

7. Exercise your brain. Your brain, just like your muscles, needs to be worked out from time to time; exercising your brain allows your creativity levels to be increased - like muscles growing bigger. The best way to exercise your brain is to read or have strenuous discussions. Letting your brain get lazy by watching a lot of TV or sitting in front of the computer all day makes it weak, and your creativity levels will take a bit hit. Working out your brain from time to time will help you to come up with better, more original and creative ideas when you need them most.

6. Ask a lot of questions. Asking questions - even ones completely unrelated to what you are doing - has been proven to fuel creativity. You may not realize it, but when you ask yourself questions you are creating a mindmap and sorting through thousands of ideas with each question you ask. Asking a lot of questions means a lot of mindmapping, and a lot of mindmapping equals a lot of new creative ideas to work with. So don’t ever be afraid to ask questions, in-fact: ask a lot of questions every chance you get.

5. Pay attention to what others are doing. A great way to fuel your creativity is by finding inspiration in other’s work. That doesn’t mean you sit, evaluate, and duplicate other people’s work; it simply means that you need to pay attention to what others are doing with their work, and watch the changes they make over time. Often you will be able to find patterns in other’s creativity that will really fuel your own. A great example is the change in web design: web pages use to be full of animated images and tons of text and sound effects, now simpler, cleaner web pages are the trendy thing. Don’t copy other’s creativity, but do pay attention to what other’s are doing and try to find ways to improve on their work.

4. Don’t settle for one idea. Another great way to fuel your creativity is to not settle for just one idea when it strikes you. Instead, mull over multiple ideas, write them down in your notepad, ask questions about each idea, and expand each idea as much as you possibly can. By having a lot of creative ideas, your solution is bound to be a great one. As Linus Pauling once said: “The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.”

3. Be random. Creativity is best fueled when it is controlled by random inhibitions - which is why there is a big misconception about drugs fueling creativity. The way you can place random inhibitions on your creativity - other than by jolting your thinking, as mentioned on point 8 - is by using a random idea generator. Like flipping through a dictionary to find random words then trying to come up with as many ideas linked to the random topic. By limiting your creativity slightly to something completely random, you are really fueling it.

2. Be confident. One of the biggest struggles people have when trying to fuel their creativity - and one issue I have had big problems with as a creative professional - is being confident in your creative abilities. Confidence is necessary to creating remarkable ideas. If you don’t think you can do it, you won’t. Having confidence in you creative abilities will allow you to really think outside the box, and accept ideas that may originally seem too risky (remember, if you aren’t willing to take creative risks, you’re not really being creative).

1. Quit worrying about risks. While having confidence is necessary to creating really great ideas, using that confidence to jump right into new ideas is just as important. Creating unbelievably remarkable ideas can only be achieved by being confident in your abilities, taking risks, and jumping right in. The Wright brothers first flight is a great example of jumping right in to bold ideas. Don’t worry about the risks too much, any creative idea is almost always worth any repercussions.

That completes the list. If you are having trouble with your creativity, resort back to this list for help and inspiration. And if you want to get more useful and remarkeable creative help, you can subscribe to Creative Something by clicking on the link below, or in the right side column on this page.