Creativity is a muscle. When we work it out, it gets stronger and when we fail to exercise it, we get weaker. The act of creating takes sweat and effort. A series of studies done on some of the most creative “geniuses” in history has identified a few trends common in extremely creative people that innovate and create ideas to influence change in their fields.
Here are eight exercises that can make us creatively stronger:
1. Think Visibly – Don’t just rest on language. Allow space, pictures, diagrams, and technology to enhance how we see communicate and articulate. Find ways to tell stories via pictures instead of words. Images will change how people relate to our art and will change the way stories are told.
2. Don’t just talk, produce – We won’t always create masterpieces. However, masterpieces will never exist if we don’t create. Creativity takes reps, and lots of them. We always see the highlight reels of creative teams, but we don’t see the number of attempts, the failed ideas, the edited content, the stuff that never sees the light of day. Great creative elements and ideas are the result of lots of failed, dorky, bad, and poorly executed attempts to create something good.
3. Create Connections -- Some of our most creative ideas come from combining things that don’t naturally live together. Creating connections between opposites is a fantastic exercise for enhancing our creativity. Work to connect unconnected items in an effort to get creatively better.
4. Change the Lens – Don’t be afraid to tear a problem or situation apart. Sometimes deconstructing a situation and rebuilding it can help us identify solutions. Changing perspectives can help us find solutions not always visible at first look. This process takes work and often takes some patience, but when done correctly will uncover ideas and results that can make lasting impacts.
5. Suspend Reality – We live in a real world, but creativity thrives in imagination and possibility. When we’re able to suspend reality and cut off the voices that try to rationalize our creativity, we’ll find new creative roads to travel. Without reality, we see new possibilities.
6. Dream in Metaphors – Metaphors are ways to articulate story in more accessible ways. People may not remember data, but they remember stories. When we share our ideas in metaphors, we learn to be more creative and more complete in creating our thought processes.
7. Get Back Up – Failure provides the opportunity to try again. When we try again, we have a chance to be more audacious, more creative, and more gritty with how we create. Leveraging fear and failure makes us better than we could dream possible. Failing also allows us to ask questions and remove data that doesn’t work from the equation.
8. Press Pause – Create and work hard…then press pause. Step away. Give creativity room to breathe. Then come back. The chance to get away from our creative process, idea, or project will allow us to come back and see it in a new light. It will give us the chance to identify areas or elements we may have missed. Pressing pause is the least attractive option because it forces us to beat deadlines and create margin. But, when it does, it makes us so much better.
Do you employ any of these exercises in your life? Are there any other exercises you might add to this list?
About the Author
Stephen Brewster (@B_REWSTER) serves as the Creative Arts Pastor at Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN. He's spent the past 15 years in professional creative environments including church, music business, marketing, management, artist development, creative team leading and art directing. See more from Stephen on Medium.com