Ever since you were little you wanted to be creative. You saw your friends using their imaginations and writing crazy stories of adventure and intrigue. Try as you might you didn’t seem to have the same capacity as they did. Eventually, you gave up and sat back to both enjoy and covet the creativity of others. Now that you are older and (perhaps) wiser, you have the facilities to flex those atrophied creative and artistic muscles. I have compiled a list of 10 things you can do to become creative. Some of these take time and some of these take money, but if adding new creative impulses to your system is important to you, only you will be able to put a price upon it.
Note: These ten methods will also help you out of a creative lull or they can aid you to become more creative than you already are. Why leave all the fun to our creativity rookies out there? :)
Find a notable contributor to the creative artform you wish to be a part of. If you want to be a painter, collect some samples of your favorite painter (Google Images can help with that). If you want to be a writer, check out some library materials by your most beloved author. Then, get out some paper or whatever your creative medium would require and imitate your choice thoroughly. Don’t copy the specific words or subject matter, but try to match the style exactly.
Mimicking the ways an artist works will not make you creative per say, but it will give you a great understanding about what style is. Creativity is a lot about having your own way of doing things; moving to the beat of your own unique drummer. If you can comprehend the things that make up your chosen artist’s style, it will help you to create your own inimitable way of being.
To help this work to the fullest extent, try to experience every possible aspect of your chosen artist’s work. How does it make you feel? What other types of art or artists does it remind you of? Do some research and see if this particular creative artist based his or her style on someone else. If so, that should only further encourage you to do a spot on impression.
2. Hunt within the Arts
There are so many forms of creative expression out there that it’s entirely possible that you haven’t found the right one that inspires you. For me it was theatre. For a friend of mine, it was being the only Caucasian in an African-American spoken word club. It could be any number of things for you. Our world is one with rich and diverse cultures, many of which we won’t come across in our lifetimes. Some of them are reserved for the select few creative adventurers like you who cannot to afford to leave any artistic stone unturned.
Go to museums and cultural evens. Try out different types of theatre, film, and other varieties of performance. Write about your experiences in a journal or blog. Try a 30 Day Trial where you take in a different cultural event each day. Even the simple act of chronicling these events will serve as a form of creativity. My friend Kim “Howard” Johnson, made a career on dictating his experiences with the very gifted Monty Python’s Flying Circus and the late Del Close. His books are very factual and yet I would still very much classify them as creative.
Also, after having gathered all these new ideas, you’ll have plenty to draw upon when you sit down to work on something creative and new.
I have seen many an office drone and burned out writer experience a creative rebirth by taking improv comedy classes. The need to think on your feet for around a three hour period once or twice a week can work wonders for the idea generation capability of your brain.
The basic tenets of improvisation are set in place to give you the best possible chances to have an entertaining scene with a good foundation. The big one “Yes and” can help you to take an idea farther than you ever thought possible. The rule means that you must agree (in principle) with what your scene partner has just said and you must add something new as well. Using this rule in class will help you deprogram the negativity and anti-imagination regulations you were brought up with.
Improvisation can help you learn to build upon your new ideas instead of doubting them from the start.
Caution: Improv is fun and it is possible to have a career from it, but keep your dreams big and don’t get sucked into a group of people that sit around drinking and making fun of each other. Be balanced and believe you can succeed!
Sometimes the fast-paced, do-everything-at-once world we live in can be too much pressure for you to create in the first place. A steady supply of relaxation through meditation may give your brain the rest it needs to feel artistic. This can take many forms: from sitting and quietly reflecting to a full-on guided meditation CD or DVD.
I don’t pretend to be a meditation expert; I’ve been lucky to fit it in once a week as of late. To find out more than I know, there are some fantastic resources on the Internet or in your nearest library.
No matter what method or methods you select, make sure to be consistent. Ten minutes each day for a week has a better chance of helping you than one day of seventy minutes and six days off. Any positive habit you can adopt will be much more successful if it makes it into your routine.
Find the most creative, inspiring person you can get in contact with and shadow them. Whether it’s becoming a drinking buddy or an unpaid personal assistant to the guy or gal, you should make an effort to spend as much time with them as possible. While this is partly an attempt to get into the head of your resident creative guru, you may have better luck simply seeing the tasks the person does on a day to day basis.
More often than not you will see that this “genius” has a lot more “regular Joe” qualities than you expected. It can be very encouraging to see that you’re only a few steps away from this person. Success is often just using the best plan you can put together over and over again until something works. Find out some of the day to day tasks that are part of the expert’s plan but not your own. Work them into your routine and see if there are any changes.
At the least, you can be inspired by what your shadowee has accomplished in his or her time on earth. If the person is nice (a.k.a. not a dick :)) he will probably encourage that “you can do it too!” Of course, only if you employ a lot of hard work and patience.
6. Fall in Love
Not gonna lie, I have written poetry for the women of my life on four separate occasions. Though hokey, those poems represented my most passionate, bold, and creative work that I accomplished during high school and college. Not everybody expresses feelings in such a way, but we all have the ability to try.
If you happen to find yourself in the throes of love, try to use your favorite artform to embody the feelings you have. The love can be requited or unrequited (I once used a poem of mine to turn an unrequited into a requited :)), and the medium can be writing, painting, film, or whatever you feel like. You don’t even have to share this creative work with the other person if you don’t feel comfortable.
Being in love can be a good opportunity to put such overflowing feelings to good creative use. I mean, aside from the other perfectly legitimate uses :).
7. Look to the Past
When we were younger, practically everything we did was creative. We ran around with kids our age pretending we were kings and queens and we spent our classroom time coloring and reading stories. There is a good chance that you took a shining to one of the many cute activities that you used to do.
I was a big fan of film in late high school and throughout college. One of the reasons I originally got into acting was to be a part of it. That being said, as of last year, I had never directed a film in my life. Or so I thought. I did not realize that when I was 11 or 12, I filmed a family gathering at my aunt’s house, adding narration as I saw fit. I then forgot about it until I was 25, when my aunt busted it out at a holiday get together. Other than being incredibly hilarious, it made me think, “I had the skill and the drive to do this when I was 11. There is no reason why it couldn’t be a part of my life now.”
Swallow your pride a bit and ask your relatives what you liked to do when you were younger. Was it drawing, playing with blocks, acting out your own plays? There is a chance that you have a long-buried inkling that is just waiting to be uncovered. You won’t know unless you ask though. Feel free to pry while doing a thorough cleaning of the attic :).
There are a lot of beautiful places in the world. There are still many that I have yet to witness. The locations I have seen, however, are quick to bring up vivid memories. From the warm air and sharply green grass of Chapel Hill, NC to the dank and misty fog of South London, UK, I can certainly recall enough details to at least write a short story about them. Do you have these sorts of places in your life? If yes, use them! Think about them; muse upon these varied places that you’ve resided in. If you do not have such memorable places locked within your brain then it’s time to travel!
Some are attracted to the touristy spots of the world like the Eiffel Tower or the Grand Canyon. Others are drawn to the more underground haunts. Whatever your preferred flavor, travel there and bring a notebook. Go on that vacation you’ve been meaning to take and kill two birds with one stone: relaxation and creativity.
Creativity is often the way in which you relate your own, someone else’s, or your characters’ experiences. Travelling enables you to gain more experience which in turn gives you more to draw from. Take in the treasures of the world and see what you end up with.
9. Fake It
Gotta love the old adage, “If you don’t got it, fake it until you make it.” The funny thing is, these kinds of phrases wouldn’t be clichés if they didn’t work a lot of the time. What would you be doing if you knew that you held a great deal of creativity in that head of yours? More than likely, you’d be using it to create. So do it.
Create something as if it was second nature to you. Fake the confidence and ability that a renowned artist would yield every day of his or her life. Just go with it, even if it feels weird. Repeat to yourself, “I am an expert at this,” while working on your wonderful new creation.
Chances are, you’ll put something together that you never expected. The brain is a strange piece of machinery and you can use it to unearth all sorts of hidden treasures within you. Try this at least a couple of times and see if you can trick yourself into being a genius :).
10. Try Them All
There is a smorgasbord full of opportunities to gain creativity out there. Mix and match as much as you want and I won’t tell anybody that you’ve come back for seconds :). These nine ideas can be combined together, for there is no rule stating otherwise. Why not travel and then shadow a creative mentor in Belize? You can certainly find a hobby from your past and convince yourself that you can be an expert with it in the present.
Spend your life creating value instead of wishing that you could. We all have the opportunity to contribute to the great works of the world. Get out of your own way, take a few risks, and perhaps some day you’ll even be someone else’s creative mentor.
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