This is a guest post by Rebecca Chelsey.
As a creative person, I’ve noticed that creativity and creative ideas tend to present themselves whenever they see fit, and rarely otherwise. This is an especially unfortunate habit for my creativity to have because I am in the field of design. Over the years I’ve researched and stumbled upon eight nearly sure-fire ways to spark my imagination and creativity and I figured I would share them. Keep in mind, however, every imagination is unique and all of my methods may not strike a chord with you the same way they do with me. Hopefully at least one will bring you some inspiration to keep your blogs unique and intriguing or any situation you may need some outside-the-box thinking for.
As a general rule, when I find myself stuck on an idea for a long time, the best way to go about it is to stop trying so hard. Stop thinking so hard about your work when trying these activities and just let your brain do its thing. In other words, stop looking for the answer and let the answer find you.
1. People Watching
This is my best technique, especially when designing something for a consumer product. Go to a crowded place, any crowded place, empty your mind and subtly observe strangers. This can literally be ANYWHERE that there is a constant flow of new people to observe and absorb. This may seem awkward at first, but 99.9% of the time, nobody will notice what you’re up to and before long, you will probably find yourself quite entertained. Observe people and how they interact with each other, the world around them, and even with themselves. There is no better way that I know of to step outside yourself and get a fresh outlook on what ever task may be at hand.
2. Past Achievements
This works best for me when I siphon through old completed or especially half-completed projects. I find myself often muttering to myself “Oh yeah, I forgot about this project. This would have been great if…” BAM! Creative idea. Doesn’t apply to your current project? Keep rummaging. Even if you don’t find anything that directly applies to your current project(s), it’s bound to at least get your creative juices flowing.
Being active is extremely important these days. I don’t think it’s any more important than it used to be, it just seems to get harder and harder to maintain an active lifestyle in the modern business battlefield so it IS more important to be aware of your physical state. Exercise when ever you can and you’ll be happier, healthier and more creative. When confronted with a project that stumps you, exercise harder. The release of endorphins that occurs when a body is pushed physically can do wonders for the creative process.
Go to your local national or state park and just go for a walk. Your focus should be on soaking in as much as the atmosphere and scenery as possible as you go. This also gets you a little exercise (#3) and will help to clear your mind and look at your problem with a new perspective. Getting a new perspective is HUGELY important. It’s almost like having another person on your team.
Similar to the idea behind hiking. Your goal is to empty your mind of all your stresses, tasks and negative energy. Embrace the world around you and let it embrace you. Not only should this loosen up your imagination, it can also make you happier and more relaxed in general.
Find a genre that you can fall into. The first step is to clear your consciousness of your stresses, fears and surroundings. Then you play your music. Classical orchestra, classic rock, African drum, whatever you can use to close your eyes and just lose your brain into. Try to stay away from anything you know from a movie or that reminds you of a memory. The goal here is to meditate with the music and let it guide your mind into generating images in accordance with the song. When music takes your brain in a certain direction, or when it inspires images in your head, that’s called concurrent association. This is an invaluable tool when trying to generate original ideas.
This is an absolute last resort for me. I’m of the school of thought that my body is my temple and I keep it free of toxins as often as possible. But, a deadline is a deadline and sometimes I just can’t seem to get my brain out of second gear. This is when I have to head to my local mom & pop coffee shop (I like it better than the chain stores) where I can kick back and get myself a vat of caffeine to soak my brain in. Again, this is a last resort. The other natural methods I offered through brain power and thought control will keep you happier, healthier and more creative in the long run. You don’t want your creativity to become dependant on foreign substances.
8. Clear Mind
The greatest obstacle in creating something completely original is the frustration that tends to flare up when you can’t get your imagination to give you its goodies. When you try to force your imagination to generate something on the spot, it sometimes works. When you’re frustrated and you try to force your imagination, it never works. If my methods don’t work for you, I recommend you do what ever it is that works for you in order to take a step back, separate yourself from the problem, do something fun for a while and come back to it with a fresh set of eyes and a positive frame of mind.
About the Author:
Rebecca Chelsey is a working mother who has learned that often life and work overlap. Though both her job and her role as mother require her to be creative, she has seen that often the most original ideas are right in front of us merely waiting to be found. Beyond her job as mother and wife, she also works for Homeseasons, which has simplified the holidays with 4th of July decorations, Halloween Holiday arrangements and ideas for every holiday in between.