Creativity is an elusive thing. For most people, it doesn't just happen. Although, I am a firm believer that every one of us has enormous creative potential (check out my post on "Kidminnovation"), there are definitely times when creativity just doesn't seem to flow.
If you find yourself struggling in your creative realm, try these tips:
1) Start "scratching"
Twyla Tharp, author of The Creative Habit, talks about the act of scratching. She writes, "You know how you scratch away at a lottery ticket to see if you've won? That's what I'm doing when I begin a piece. I'm digging through everything to find something. It's like clawing at a side of a mountain to get a toehold, a grip, some sort of traction to keep moving upward and onward." Scratching can be as simple as just typing/writing whatever comes to your mind, or maybe you just turn on your favorite jam and let your mind start to wander. Whatever it takes to get your creativity flowing.
So many people try to sit down and create, then are drawn away by email, texts, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Creative minds are inherently easily distracted, so is it any wonder you can't get any creative output done when you have all these things becking for your attention. I know it goes against our society's value system, but seriously - you won't die if you totally unplug from the internet for a couple of hours. Let your spouse or boss know that you are turning your phone off for two hours. You will be surprised just how much you will get done.
3) Turn off your "internal editor"
Writers are the worst at this. We tend to be rocking along, then we start to overthink what we are writing. Suddenly, we backspace over and over and delete great content. Then, we can't seem to continue because we can't decide whether we should have actually deleted that content or not. TURN OFF your internal editor and just CREATE. There will be plenty of time to edit later. For now, let your creativity fly. Create now, edit later.
4) Picture your audience
This goes beyond just deciding who your audience is in general ("I am writing this lesson for a group of 5th and 6th graders). Instead, picture in your mind a face of THE 6th grader you are writing this for. What problems are they struggling with? What is their family life? What are their dreams? As you write and create, make sure everything you write and create will minister directly to that person in your mind.
5) Keep the rhythm
So many creatives think that if they will just sit down for six to eight hours with no distractions, then they can produce some of their best work. Not true. Our bodies follow what are known as ultradian rhythms - ninety-minute periods at the end of which we reach the limits of our capacity to work at the highest level. There's no amount of coffee, Red Bull, or "5 Hour Energy" that will overcome it.
Your best bet is to take a 10-20 minute break after every 90 minutes of Creative Output. Take a walk, go talk to a friend down the hall, practice shooting paper wads into the trash can - WHATEVER! Do anything EXCEPT the creative project you were working on. I know, it goes against your belief that "if only I keep on hammering away at it, I will finish the project!" In truth, you may finish the project, but it will be sub par work compared to what it could be if you took a break.
So, there you have it. Five quick tips to instantly improve your creative output. Which one(s) do you think you can put to use this week? Leave a comment and share with us any of your own creative output boosters!