I’ve been creating every day for almost a year now and that, along with all the motivational talks and books I’ve listened to, has taught me a lot about how to be more creative and how to start your creative process. Often the most effective tricks are very simple. Here’s a list of tips I like to use, whether I’m writing, drawing illustrations or creating content for social media.
1. Find an inspiring location
This can either mean going to places, like a forest, a flower field or a beach, where you can look around and feel new ideas pop into your head. This can also mean just going somewhere where you feel peaceful and encouraged to create and get productive, because other people are doing that as well, like coffee shops and libraries for example.
It’s also a great way to send a signal to your brain that right now you’re doing this and nothing else, and it might be easier to focus and avoid distractions. James Clear wrote about this in his book Atomic Habits – when you dedicate certain places or a certain time of day to certain activities, it’s easier to create new habits. You don’t even need to leave your home if you don’t want to, you can find a creative corner in your living room.
2. Watch tutorials
In this day and age, everything we want to learn is available for free online. Just search for tutorials and guides on Youtube. That’s how you actually get to see the process instead of only the result, and taking those steps becomes easier. This is also where the algorithm can become very useful – soon Youtube starts recommending things you’ve never even heard of. It can open up a new world for you, you might discover new forms of art, be inspired by what other people are doing and it can become a new passion of yours. If you don’t have a lot of people around you that create things, you can find role models online and also get the encouragement you might need.
3. Listen to soundtracks
Music is simply AMAZING when you want to find that flow state. However, your favourite songs might disturb your focus if you start dancing and singing along. Instead, try calm background music without lyrics. The reason I recommend soundtracks is because it’s easy to match the music to your mood. I especially recommend Studio Ghibli soundtracks, but classical masterpieces and piano jazz work very well too. Thehealthy.com says that according to research, classical music can lower your blood pressure, boost brain activity, improve memory, help you relax and make you more productive. Oh so many reasons to start listening to Vivaldi!
4. Create a vision board
You can use Google to search for ideas, the kind of style you’d like to create and the colours that are calling for you. You don’t need to invent everything but at the same time, don’t just copy someone else’s work. Look for inspiration, blend different ideas together and add something that represents you – that’s how you’ll find the joy of creativity.
5. Create without expectations
Negative self-talk is often THE biggest roadblock – things like perfectionism, high expectations, your skills not matching what you want to create and fear of failure are very real and crippling, however, it’s likely they will never fully go away. Anyone who does anything, has to overcome those thoughts or at least find a way to ignore them.
Remember this: creativity is for everyone and it lives in all of us. Let yourself create without judgment and set yourself free from limiting beliefs. You become better when you keep trying and every one of us has something unique to offer to this world. Creativity is not about perfectionism, it’s not even about beauty, it’s about what it means to YOU that you’re making your thoughts come to reality.
6. Meditate to improve focus
Meditation can help you get to a calm state where there is less judgment, less expectations and more love, peace and compassion towards you and the world. This headspace is very beneficial for your creative process: it can help you create more freely and let those unhelpful thoughts just pass by without you engaging with them. If you are a beginner, try guided meditations on a regular basis to get the best results. My favourite one is Boho Beautiful on Youtube.
7. Create often
Even if you feel like your abilities are very limited – if your poems and paintings seem to you like something a child could have created, you should still keep going. Often one idea leads to another and the more you experiment, the more you realise what’s possible and the better you become.
Make it a habit to put creative time in your schedule. Otherwise life gets busy, you forget and soon it’s been a year since you last created something. We have all been there, right? But prioritizing creativity in your life is so beneficial – you can do it alone, together and to relax. It’s just a matter of priorities.
8. Study new things
No one creates things out of nowhere, even if it could seem like it. It’s common to draw ideas from things you’ve seen, places you’ve visited, childhood memories, lovely and difficult life experiences, simple joys of life and dreams and hopes. However, not everyone has a rich library of interesting life experiences to use as inspiration and you can’t really control what happens or has happened to you BUT you can control what you feed yourself. These possibilities are pretty much unlimited. Study fascinating topics, read inspiring books, learn new skills, watch documentaries and discuss things that you are interested in. All these things can potentially turn into exciting ideas in your head.
9. Work out
Studies show that when you work out, the increased blood flow gives your brain more energy and oxygen, which leads to better performance. Polar.com says: “Attention, working memory, problem-solving, decision making – these all improve for up to two hours post-exercise. Creativity also might increase immediately after exercise.”
People often say they work out to get that beach body but you rarely hear people say that they work out to become smarter and boost their brain performance. Not to mention how much it helps your mental health! Think of exercise as something that helps you in all areas of your life, and the motivation will probably be more long-lasting compared to when you exercise for vanity reasons.
10. Just start
This is the biggest misconception I think most people have (and I did too) that you need inspiration to create something and when you don’t have it, nothing gets created. But creating is really as simple as making some time for it, getting your supplies ready, sitting down and letting your imagination do it’s magic.
In The Mindful Writer by Dinty W. Moore there was a great chapter about when you are open to getting new ideas, when you are working for it, when you simply show up, inspiration and new ideas are more likely to find you. I wrote more about this and other lessons of the book in this post.
Stay tuned for more…
Creativity is such a big part of my life and I think it’s a topic that needs a lot more attention. I will be talking about it more in the future for sure! I believe that creativity is for everyone and it enriches your life even if it’s just a lovely hobby and something just for yourself.