Some people call it writer’s block. Others say they are in a creative slump. One thing is certain, making progress feels like trying to slog through a waist-deep pool of Jell-O. You are stuck. The ideas aren’t flowing, and nothing feels good enough. If you ever felt this way, then keep reading. These ten creativity-boosting tips are for you. Practicing these creativity boosters practically guarantees you’ll get out of your slump and back into the creative zone fast.
So, are you ready to dive in and be more creative?
How to Boost Creativity Fast
Just as writers write, speakers speak, and singers sing, creators create. Use the 10 surprisingly effective creativity-boosting tips below to get back in your creative zone. This way, you can focus on the real work—speaking, writing, filming your next course, or whatever amazing project you have going!
Creativity Booster 1: Commit to creativity. Create first and revise Later.
Wondering how to boost creativity and imagination? The best place to start is by shifting your brain into the creative zone. According to Nobel Prize winner Roger W. Sperry, the right side of the human brain is creative, and the left hemisphere deals with logic. The human brain, however, doesn’t switch back and forth easily. For a quick creativity boost, commit to the creative process. Choose to create first and revise later.
If you have perfectionistic tendencies, this can be tough. As a writing coach, I encourage students to write first and edit later. This is important because if you can fully shift into a right-brained mode, you are more likely to be creative. In other words, ideas flow more freely if we commit 100 percent to the creative process. A simple rule for accomplishing this is forward progress only. You can always edit, delete, and revise your work later.
Creativity Boosting Action Step: Stay in your creative right-brained mode by creating first and only revising after your project is complete.
Creativity Booster 2: Sleep on it.
Sleep fuels creativity. REM sleep releases acetylcholine, a chemical that causes the hippocampus and neocortex to be more flexible. This is why you can go to sleep thinking about a problem and wake up with the solution. Don’t believe me? Put this creativity booster to the test and see for yourself. I did, and here’s what happened.
Supposedly, the subconscious mind is always at work. Initially, this idea sounded too “woo-woo” for me. So I put it to the test with this simple creativity-boosting experiment. The next time I got stuck, I made sure the stuck point was the last thing I thought about before drifting to sleep. Whenever I try this experiment, one of two things happens. Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night with a solution—and it’s almost always a good one! On other mornings I wake up feeling refreshed. Then, I dive into the problem and quickly enter my creative zone. Even though I haven’t fully grasped why this works, I found sleep is a surprisingly effective creativity booster!
Creativity Boosting Action Step: Get in your creative zone by putting your subconscious mind to work. Focus on your problem or project immediately before falling asleep.
Creativity Booster 3: Let your rough draft be messy.
All projects have a messy rough draft stage. In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamont’s renowned book on writing, Anne refers to these as “crappy rough drafts.” Only Anne uses rougher language. My takeaway is that if you look at the initial stages of your work and think to yourself, This is a mess! then congratulations! You are creating exactly like the experts.
I’ve heard writing described as puking on paper. Good writers then finger-paint with that mess until it turns into a masterpiece. Although this metaphor is disgusting, I’m a guy, and that’s probably why I like it. The bottom line is that a great way to boost creativity is to allow your messy rough draft to be messy.
Creativity Boosting Action Step: To boost your creativity, embrace the creative mess by allowing your messy rough draft to be messy.
Creativity Booster 4: Don’t “have to…” but “I Want to…”
This next creativity booster is a mental hack that puts the fun back into creativity. After all, getting in the creative zone is easier when we’re having fun, right? This creativity booster involves monitoring your thoughts. In essence, you are becoming a mental language cop. Start by noticing your thoughts when you create. Do you think to yourself,
- I have to write.
- Today, I must create.
- I really should work on that project now.
If any of these thoughts are running through your head, that’s great. You have identified the problem! Thoughts like should, must, and have to are creativity killers. They zap the joy out of everything. Here’s the slight mental pivot. Instead of telling yourself, I have to… try thinking I want to… instead. Tell yourself,
- I want to write.
- Today, I get to create.
- I can’t wait to dive into that project!
Can you feel the difference between these two sets of thoughts? The first sap energy, while the second set of thoughts provides an energy boost that propels you toward your creative zone.
Creativity Boosting Action Step: Get in your creative zone by telling yourself, I want to get this creative project done!
Creativity Booster 5: Follow the plan: mind map, outline, create.
Creative people typically like to color outside of the lines—and people love them for this! So it feels odd to suggest that following the plan is a creativity booster. The point, however, is balance. Having a plan is a good thing. If you are creative, you may need to hold on to your plans with a very rigid commitment to flexibility, and that’s perfectly acceptable. Here is my three-step creativity planning process.
The Messy Mind Map
Start by boosting creativity with a messy mind map.
- First, choose a topic.
- Second, set a timer for ten minutes.
- Third, keep your pencil moving. Write down every idea you can think of, good, bad, and ugly. There are no wrong answers in the messy mind-map phase.
If your mind-map sheet looks like an idea explosion, then congratulations, you have done this right.
The Neat Outline
To boost your creativity with a neat outline, return to your messy mind map and do the following.
- First, picture where your audience is right now.
- Second, follow Steven Covey’s advice. Begin with the end in mind and picture where you want your tribe to be after finishing your book, speech, course, or project.
- Now, fill in the gap. Look at your messy mind map and choose the first thing your tribe needs to do to get from where they are to where they want to go. This could be the first step they must take or the most important thing for them to know. If you had 15-minutes to help someone “move the needle,” what advice would you give?
Then, repeat this process. Pick the best ideas from your messy mind map, and put them in order. As the caterpillar says in Alice in Wonderland, start at the beginning, and when you get to the end, stop.
Now, Find Your Creative Zone
Now that you have a plan, your creative zone should be easier to find. This means it’s time to dive into the real work—creating your book, speech, blog post, or online course. Writers write, speakers speak, and creators create! This should be your number one priority. The plan you now have in place should be structured enough to get your tribe from where they are to where you want them to go. If you followed this three-part process, your plan is unstructured enough not to stifle your creativity.
Creativity Boosting Action Step: Boost your creativity by creating a flexible plan. Mind map, outline, create, and repeat!
Creativity Booster 6: Embrace your turtle superpower with daily activity.
The best part about Aesop’s classic fable, The Tortoise and the Hair, is no matter how many times the tale is told, the tortoise wins every time. Boost your creativity by tapping into your tortoise superpower. According to Bill Gates,
Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.~ Bill Gates
This quote illustrates the tortoise’s superpower. Slow and steady wins the race. Doing a little bit of work on your project each day keeps your work fresh in your mind. Plus, ten minutes a day adds up fast. That’s over an hour a week and more than 52 hours a year. Just imagine what amazing projects you could finish in this little amount of time. And, if you want to do more, simply double your efforts!
Creativity Boosting Action Step: Stay in your creative zone by working on your project daily—even if it’s only for a few minutes.
Creativity Booster 7: Focus on one person in need.
As an introvert, large crowds intimidate me. However, I love hanging out in small groups, especially in a coffee shop. When I write, speak, and create online courses, I feel overwhelmed if I picture myself speaking to a crowd. On the other hand, if I imagine myself reaching out to one person in need, I get energized. If you’re wondering how to boost creativity, try focusing on one person. Here’s how:
- Visualize the individual who will benefit from your message the most.
- It helps if this is someone you know well because you need to picture this person as vividly as you can.
- Then write, speak, or create as if you are creating for that one person.
- Let your imagination go, and allow this visualized person’s thoughts, factual expressions, and reactions to guide you.
When I wrote my book 131 Creative Conversations for Parents and Teens, I wrote a series of serious conversation starters. During the editing stage, I imagined this teenager sitting back in his chair, crossing his arms, and mentally checking out. I knew with certainty this is exactly what this teen would do. My series of questions would feel overwhelming. So I mixed things up with funny and light-hearted conversation starters too.
The end result is a much better book. Using this strategy allowed me to reach my intended audience and change more lives. Instead of creating for everyone, boost your creativity, and increase your effectiveness by focusing your attention on the one person who needs your message the most!
Creativity Boosting Action Step: Create for one person in need.
Creativity Booster 8: Share snapshots of your life.
With over 152 million blogs on the internet and over 2.2 million books published each year, how do you get your work to stand out? The good news is that standing out and boosting your creativity go hand-in-hand. In his masterpiece, On Writing, Stephen King describes his writing journey as:
A disjointed growth process in which ambition, desire, luck, and a little talent all played a part. Don’t bother trying to read between the lines, and don’t look for a through-line… There are no lines—only snapshots, most out of focus.”Stephen King
What snapshots of your life can you share with your tribe? With millions of books and blog posts published each year, the one surefire way to stand out is to share not only your wisdom but your life too. It’s OK if these snapshots are slightly out of focus. The important thing is they connect the reader with you. Plus, your story is one of the easiest things to share.
Don’t worry. I’m not suggesting that you make your next masterpiece all about you. Instead, ask, Where can I include a snapshot or two of my life? I define intimacy as into-me-see. It’s the ability to allow oneself to be known. Not only is intimacy connecting because your story is your story, but it’s also one of the easiest things to share. This makes it an excellent creativity booster. Simply look at what you are creating, then find a few snapshots from your life that drive your key points home.
Creativity Boosting Action Step: Make your work stand out by sharing your wisdom and snapshots of your life too.
Creativity Booster 9: Teach, remind, and inspire!
Suggesting that it’s perfectly acceptable to repeat oneself certainly doesn’t sound creative. But the truth is people need to be reminded and inspired as much as they need new information. Perhaps even more so! I once heard a motivational speaker suggest most people could drastically improve their lives simply by putting the information they already have into action. He is right!
What if you don’t need another creativity booster at all? Perhaps the best thing you can do is remind your audience what they already know or inspire them to take action. It’s been said a good speaker will,
- Tell his audience what he is going to tell them.
- Tell them.
- And finally, tell them what he just told them.
There is much wisdom in this formula. As a therapist, I’ve learned that change can be hard. Even a slight shift in behavior can be a huge victory. So don’t just teach your tribe. Remind them of what they already know and inspire them to take action too. Returning to the life-changing material you know well is a great way to get back into your creative zone, and your audience will appreciate it too!
Creativity Boosting Action Step: Boost your creativity by teaching, reminding, and inspiring your tribe!
Creativity Booster 10: Start, have fun, and see what happens.
Creators create! Nothing has to happen, and nothing can’t happen. This is my mantra when I’m in my creative zone. Writers write, speakers speak, and creators create! This mantra is all about doing the work and not stressing over the outcome. Placing 100 percent of your focus on the work you’re doing and getting your eyes off of the results is not only a powerful creativity booster, but it may also help you produce your best work.
Creativity Boosters: Trust the process. Get started, have fun, and see what happens. The ideas always flow easier when we create out of sheer joy!
Stacking Creativity Boosters Together
Stacking the creativity boosters together is the best way to get into your creative zone fast. In his article Domino Chain Reaction, Lorne Whitehead describes how each domino in a chain can topple a block 1.5 times bigger than itself. This means a 2-inch domino can knock down a 3-inch domino, which will topple a 4.5-inch domino. If this pattern continues, domino 30 will be large enough to take out a skyscraper.
The point of this illustration is that momentum builds slowly at first. Then it compounds fast! Stacking these creativity boosters together is one of the best ways to experience exponential creative growth. So don’t just pick out one or two favorites. Use them all and find out how deep into your creative zone you can go!
Oh, and be sure to check out the video to the right for a quick demonstration of exponential growth in action. Then, apply this to the creativity boosters listed above and go deep into your creative zone.
Diving Deeper into the Creative Zone
Are you still searching for your creative zone and want to dive deeper into the topic of creativity boosters? Use the questions below for additional reflection and discussion.
- What creativity boosters have you already tried, and how did they work?
- Which creativity boosters on this list resonated with you most?
- Is there additional wisdom you would share with someone who wonders how to boost creativity?
- What tips, tricks, and strategies do you use to get in your creative zone?
- Is there a project you’re working on right now? If so, which of these tips for creativity might move the needle the most for you?
- Are there any barriers keeping you from starting your creative journey? If so, what are they?
- What might happen if you pushed pasted your fears, put these creativity boosters into action, and pushed forward toward your dream goals?
Now it’s your turn. Keep the creativity-boosting conversations going in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
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