“Creativity takes courage. ”
Contrary to what you might think, it’s not the medium or technique that restricts creativity, although they can contribute to our frustrations. The scary monster we face in being creative is our fear, and all the mental or emotional activity churning behind the scenes.
Here are 10 ways to break through barriers and increase the flow of creativity in your life.
1. Embrace innate creativity. All human beings are born with the desire and ability to experience and create, but many people deny their own creativity, saying, “I’m not an artist.” But we are all artists of our lives. Pablo Picasso once said “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
2. Break patterns. If I am doing something because that’s the way it’s always been done, that’s not good. Following the rules—whatever we’ve decided that means—impedes creative flow, and keeps us stuck to ideas that may be obsolete. My best ideas for art come to me when I’m in a half-wakened state, from dreams, or when I’m startled out of my routine. Working weird hours, making a change of scenery.
3. Embrace mistakes. There’s something both exciting and daunting about starting a new work of art. The little judge in all of us says, “What if I mess this up?” What if I can’t improve upon the silence, the pristine, blank canvas, the untouched block of clay? What if I make it worse? The nagging thought that we are impostors, not creative, smothers our “voice,” our intuition, and our willingness to take chances or deviate from convention. The thing is, we learn the most from our mistakes. There is no failure, only feedback. As Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
4. Take risks. Creative people take risks, and in doing so, often find creative solutions to problems or creative ways to accomplish what once seemed impossible. I’m not suggesting that you rob a bank or steal a car, but sometimes rules need to be broken. They may outdated or no longer valid. There are many established “truths” that have been proven untrue over time. The earth’s not flat anymore, is it?
5. Do something, anything. If we don’t act, we can’t fail. Too often we don’t do anything until we have a perfect plan that will take into account anything and everything. But sometimes in the doing, there is discovery, there is moving through the unknown to new ground and new perspective.
6. Make time for play. Making time for “play” is one of the hallmarks of a creative person. We’ve all experienced coming up with an idea “out of the blue” when we were relaxing, doing something completely unrelated to a problem we were trying so hard to solve. But creativity is not about trying, it’s about allowing. Take time to play and let new ideas come to you.
7. Be Illogical. Don’t make sense. Get crazy. Go wild. It’s a great way to loosen up, stimulate the flow of creativity and open up to other possibilities outside what’s familiar.
8. Be Impractical. Brainstorming a way of generating ideas without imposing limits or judgment. Practicality, like logic, is often limiting when it comes to innovation. There is time for that later. Think outside of the box.
9. Embrace irony and ambiguity. Some of the world’s most-loved art embodies some form of irony and ambiguity. DaVinci’s Mona Lisa is a good example of this. The mystery of life touches all of us, and there is beauty in it. Ambiguity leaves space for different interpretations and leeway for new perceptions.
10. Let go of outcomes. Creativity comes with questioning and asking “what if?” It’s easy to fall in love with an idea, but a creative person must be flexible to the twists and turns in the road of discovery. There are no right answers, no clear-cut paths to one “right” solution—there are many.
How do encourage your own creative flow?