Doing the degree that I am on, I have to pull ideas almost as if from out of a magic hat sometimes. Even if I’m feeling like the least creative person in the world.
As I’ve mentioned before, creativity is something which, up until reaching university, most of us thought just happened. You felt creative, or you didn’t. If you didn’t feel creative, you didn’t write. Wrong.
Although I firmly believe that great writers see the world in a different way- we’re often a little more observant, or just plain odd- I don’t believe that creativity is something that naturally springs forth from our minds 24/7. Which could be great news if you feel like you aren’t the most creative person- or bad news if you simply don’t know where to begin looking to get creative. Below, I have several ways you can level up your creativity, and hopefully begin churning out some writing more often:
Change up your writing spot
If you usually work from home then go sit in a café, library, simply on a park bench- or even in a train station. Look and listen to what is around you. Take a couple of notes, and see if anything comes up which you feel that you could later use.
Change up your writing time
I usually write in the morning- around 10am seems to be when I tend to grab a hot drink and sit down to write. However, recently I’ve found that my writing tends to be better in the evening, just before I go to bed. Don’t assume that just because one writing time has always worked for you, it will continue to do so. You may find that your best time is fairly odd- I know lecturers and fellow students who get up in the wee-hours to write, or stay up until 11pm to write.
Go and look around somewhere containing prompts
This is slightly different to the writing spot you may choose. A writing spot is somewhere you can sit and write, and have things happen around you that you don’t have to interact with. Somewhere containing prompts could be a museum, art gallery, photography exhibition, landmark, or an area of your city you haven’t explored yet. Exploring and learning/seeing something new is the key thing here.
Find somewhere to work that has just the right level of background noise
When you’re revising or trying to work on something complex you may find that complete silence is the way to go. I do. However, when I’m being creative a certain level of background noise is required. Coffee shops actually provide the perfect amount of background noise; it isn’t too intrusive on what you’re doing, but it means you aren’t completely alone with your thoughts.
Listen to music
Same as the above, although you may also find that if you usually listen to music in order to write, that changing up your backing track is the adjustment you need to product more creative work. If you usually go in for pop, try alternative or classical, and vice versa.
Take five minutes out, and do some kind of quick meditation. I meditate every morning- nigh, if I’m in a real rush- and find that it clears my mind of all the clutter that can get in the way of letting those creative juices flow. Because it’s hard to write when you’re worrying about bills, or work, or essays.
Set a time limit
If you give yourself an unlimited amount of time to write, you may just sit there staring at the page for half of it. If I told you to set a time limit on how long you’d write, making it at least 10 minutes, what would you say? Okay, whatever time you said, half it. Now write for that amount of time- without a break. GO!
The opposite of the forced focus above. Completing mindless tasks can free up your brain to think creatively. Often, I have ideas when I’m washing up. So I later have some writing material, and some clean plates to eat from.
Set aside perfection for the moment
Sometimes it can be hard to get going simply because we’re worried that what we write will be crap. We’ll look back and feel ashamed of what a pathetic attempt we made. Set getting this first draft/brainstorm perfect to one side. Just write. Editing comes in much, much later, and you’ll be spending enough time on it. So abandon all ideas of the immaculate first draft now.