Do you ever feel like you’re stuck on autopilot and not tapping into your creative side?
You’re so entrenched in your daily routine that hours and hours can pass without ever fully engaging your brain in a more expanded way.
Being stuck on autopilot can be helpful and gets the job done – when the job is boring and repetitive, but what happens when you need to be creative?
Getting those creative juices flowing when you’re stuck in a repetitive rut can be difficult.
You need to create a looser environment with no distractions to allow yourself to slip into creative flow.
Yep, if you want to get your creative juices flowing you need to loosen the tight grip of your schedule and your thinking by shaking up your routine.
Make seemingly random connections
Play connect the dots. Start by picking 3 random things and try to connect them by any means possible. This opens you up to not rejecting ideas that come into your mind because they seem like they don’t fit.
If you listen to people tell the story of how their creations came to be, they will be full of anecdotes, intuitive pangs and strange happenings that only seem connected in hindsight.
A great example of this is Jad Abumrad talking about gut churn and the process of creating Radiolab.
The trick is to pay attention and to not discount anything that crosses your path and realize that these dots are leading down a path that will make sense in the future. You will be able to see how the dots connected and moved you toward your creation. Not discounting each step in the process is so important. In my experience, things that I thought were mistakes or ridiculous led me to the idea or creative “aha”.
Be at one with your creation
If you’re drawing, painting or writing about a tree for example, you need to feel the strength of its roots, the rich vibrant color of its leaves, its sway in the wind, the roughness of its bark, the smoothness of its leaf, the view from its height, the outreaching of its branches… You’re not simply drawing the tree: you are trying to express the tree. You are trying to communicate the tree to the world. Give it a voice.
No, I’m not a tree hugger but when creating I can be found embodying the character, object and energy of that which I am creating. Be at one with every detail: the physical qualities, emotions, feelings, roles, perspective, worldview, limitations, language, history and experiences.
Chances are you’re stuck in your own perspective. Creativity gives us the opportunity to get out of our limited view and actually sink into the creation. Ultimately becoming at one with it.
Add hot sauce to your oatmeal
Ok, not literally but venture out of what you think makes sense. Good examples of this are the books Alice in Wonderland and the Dr. Seuss series. The authors go beyond what would be considered reasonable.
This tip is simple yet powerful. Do something that seems weird, absurd, different or down right crazy. Chances are, you need to jazz things up.
- If you’re writing, painting or drawing something, try flipping things around. For example, have fish swim through the sky.
- Try juxtaposing things to gain insight and a unique view. Juxtaposition, contrast and paradox give us great insight and different ways to see things. I often use paradox and juxtaposition when I’m trying to write or make cartoon configurations.
- Write the same story from 3 different perspectives. It will reveal more about the story with each perspective.
- Scribble something and make a picture out of it.
- Crawl inside the word and sit there for a while.
Play like you are back in kindergarten
I don’t care if you play with a hula hoop, skip or use Lincoln Logs to build something.
I also don’t care what your title or role is, what you’ve been taught or what your level of responsibility is.
When my son was little he used to take his crayons and make configurations out of them. I would say, “They’re crayons, look, you color with them” until I realized I was limiting his childlike view of what to do with the crayons. He happily spent hours making those configurations and I was fascinated by his unique creative expression.
If you want to get your creative juices flowing you need to shake it up and engage with your carefree playful mind, even if only once a week. Do this and you will see this state of mind start to weave its way into your work.
Draw with your other hand
It’s uncomfortable, yes? And yet, you can do it. Get comfortable with unfamiliarity, get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and get comfortable with unpredictability and making mistakes. In this scenario messy is good.
Of course it can be an enjoyable process where you just slip into flow and well, flow. Nothing relaxes me more than the state I’m in when I’m writing, drawing a cartoon or painting a picture but when we want to explore, innovate and go deeper into the process we may feel discomfort because it is unchartered territory.
It also requires work, not just the mysterious sort after “flow”. I could go through 20 ideas before hitting on the one creative idea that seemingly just popped out during flow. Only it didn’t just pop out. A lot of noticing, following intuition and perspiration preceded it.
Start out loose and playful and lean into the discomfort while feeling your way through the process. Be open to things that cross your path and you’ll be fluidly expressing your unique creativity in no time.
Being creative is about shifting your mindset and cultivating a way of thinking that goes beyond what already exists.
So start shifting today!
And create, create, create until your masterpiece emerges.
|Written on 5/31/2013 by Sheila McCann. Sheila McCann is the illustrator of fisheggcartoons.com A cartoon series that piqued the interest of a Harvard creativity researcher. Pop on over and receive creativity tips and a chance to win a fishegg cartoon calendar.|