How to Boost Creativity 10 Surprisingly Effective Creativity Boosters

How to Boost Creativity: 10 Surprisingly Effective Creativity Boosters

Some people call it writer’s block. Other’s 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 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.

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.

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! 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 a slightly 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.

To boos your creativity, embrace the creative mess

Creativity Booster 4: Don’t “have to…” but, “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,

A man writing with the caption "Get in your creative zone by telling yourself, I wan't to get this creative project done!"
  • 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 wan’t 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 a 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.

An image of a mind map with the line "To boost creativity, start with a messy mind map."

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 folloling.

  • 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!

A computer with lots of colors coming out of it to illustrate the action step "Boost creativity with a flexible plan. Mind map, outline, create, and repeat!"

Creativity Booster 6: Embrace your turtle superpower with daily activity.

How to Boost Creativity Idea 5: Do a little work each day and embrace your tortoise superpowers.

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 tortoises’ superpower. Slow and steady truly does win 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:

  1. Visualize the individual who will benefit from your message the most.
  2. It helps if this is someone you know well because you need to picture this person as vividly as you can.
  3. Then write, speak, or create as if you are creating for that one person.
  4. 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 saw the teenager I was writing to sit back in his chair, cross his arms, and check-out. I knew with 100 percent certainty this is exactly what this teen would do. My series of questions would feel overwhelming to him. 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- Make your work stand out by sharing 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 needed 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!

A woman holding up an image of a lightbulb to illustrate the point "To boost creativity, Teach, remind, and inspire!"

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,

  1. Tell his audience what he is going to tell them.
  2. Tell them.
  3. 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 Boosting Action Step: Trust the process. Get started, have fun, and see what happens. The ideas always flow easier when we create out of sheer joy!

To boost creativity, 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 wanting 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!

More Great Posts on Creativity and Writing

Jed Jurchenko

Jed Jurchenko is the husband to an incredible wife, daddy to four amazing girls, and a foster dad to one more. He's served as a children's pastor, marriage and family therapist, psychology professor, award-winning writing coach, and life coach. Jed is the author of 23 books on relationships, parenting, writing, and doing life well. In his free time, you'll find Jed reading, preparing for an upcoming marathon, barbecuing, paddle boarding, and enjoying life with his incredible family. Find out more about Jed's books, coaching, and courses at www.ithrive320.com.

23 thoughts on “How to Boost Creativity: 10 Surprisingly Effective Creativity Boosters”

  1. Hi Jed, I’ve just done a month long writing course which had daily activities and ideas. It was a great way to replenish my creativity and help. get my writing MOJO back – it was actually called MOJO (mindset, Online, Juice and Operation). Some of your thoughts here remind me of the way we can get back into feeling creative and boost our MOJO. Thanks. #lifethisweek

  2. Ah Jed, so much nodding of my head here in Australia. IF I had not already activated my creativity via art and more, back in my not-so-good times of 2015 into 2017 when I was in grief after stopping work, selling our house and moving…so the anxiety was high. But I could lose myself for quite some time with one focus.

    Then I got cancer! I really needed to focus on my creativity then (and still do) to manage anxiety about pain and recovery. In fact, there is a section on my blog’s header about my creativity.

    Thank you so much for linking up this week for #lifethisweek. We are nearly at the end of 2020 and only a few optional prompts left! Next week is 49/51 Lucky 7.12.2020. Hope to see you there. Denyse.

    1. Awww, Denyse, what a powerful story. Thank you for sharing ways that activating your creativity helped you. I knew creativity was powerful, but I never thought of it as a way of working through grief and managing anxiety. That makes a lot of sense. You’ve been through some tough stuff, and thank you again for adding these creativity insights to the conversation.

      Now, I’ve got to go check out your blog’s header again 🙂

  3. Bethany McIlrath

    Jed, I love this!! I’m saving and sharing! The comment about puke and finger painting made me laugh- but that’s accurate and will stick with me. I also appreciate the planning and outlining point- I’m often more creative “coloring outside the lines” when there are lines. Thanks for this thoughtful and thorough post!

  4. These are really good ideas, not only for myself but for my teens too. We are all creative in nature but we also get a little stuck sometimes. Thanks, I’ll keep this pinned for inspiration.

  5. This is such wise advice, Jed. I struggle with perfectionism, but I particularly agree with the create first, revise later tip – and letting your first draft be messy is so liberating! Thank you for sharing with the Hearth and Soul Link Party. Stay safe and well.

  6. These are such wonderful tips, Jed! I struggle all too often with my creative process. But the key is definitely shifting from “having” to create to “wanting” to create. It really does make a huge difference in the flow of words. I also get in my own way with editing as I go. I really do need to just get the thoughts on the page and edit later. I am bookmarking this post for a reminder when I need it! Thanks for sharing and linking with me.

    Shelbee
    http://www.shelbeeontheedge.com

  7. Creating first and revising later is good advice. I find that if I feel stuck with writing, setting a timer and free-writing for 10-15 minutes often works wonders. It also makes the first draft very messy so that works well for me too! I’ve not tried the messy mind-map idea though which is quite a similar concept to free-writing. Might have to give that a go sometime. #WotW

    1. Kathleen, you are amazing! Thank you for the feature and the kind words. It’s great to hear these creativity boosters resonate with you and everyone over at the Bloggers Pit Stop. Jenny and I love what you do.

  8. Jed, so many of these tips have helped me at various stages of my projects. As a writer, I’ve embraced the idea of the messy first draft. When I’m writing, I try to just write. I don’t go back and re-read what I wrote yesterday, unless I need a reminder of a certain aspect of the story. I write fast. I write messy. Once the story’s on the page, it’s easier to work with. And yes, I plan ahead of time . . . because that also helps me know what direction I’m going. Great tips here!

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