The ability to be the most creative in your field can be a gift, but it’s also a skill we need to nurture in order to succeed. From taking time out, to finding inspiration from your dreams, five experts share their tips on how to flex your creativity muscles and ignite your imagination.
Embrace times of solitude
Creativity is something you need to invest in, says career coach and author of The Value of You, Christopher Connors. And the key to nurturing it, he says, is to spend time in solitude.
“Solitude leads to deeper thought, clarity and the power to visualize the object(s) of our creativity,” Christopher says. “I’ve found that my best ideas come when I’m free of external distractions, even when I’m without the aid of media, like music or television.
“It comes down to focus and imagination, which are more creative and powerful when we’re able to deeply concentrate on our creative passions.”
Tapping into your greater imagination, is much easier when you doodle, says Keith Sawyer, research psychologist and author of Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity. And it’s something we should all practice daily, he says.
“The best creativity advice is to carry a small notebook at all times,” says Keith. “Even if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve, just doodle and sketch quickly and see what comes out onto the paper.
“The way your thoughts show up on paper are going to be different from what you had in your head and that’s a good thing. It will show you the ideas that you didn’t know you had and is bound to accelerate your creative process, whatever field you apply it to.”
Find your ‘love to do’ things
In order to become more creative in your field, you need to identify what drives you and what your internal strengths are, says Noula Diamantopolous, psychotherapist and author of You are. That is. Creative.
“There are things in life we love to do. Those ‘love to do things’ refuel us, energise us, nourish us and make us feel like we are doing something meaningful,” says Noula.
Make a list of what your ‘love to do things’ are (for example problem solving, gardening, writing, woodwork, pottery) you will discover that they come with certain qualities like persistence, tolerance, tenacity and being able to see things through a different lens.
She adds: “We are all too quick to criticise ourselves for not being good enough in our field, but if you are truly in tune with your internal strengths and passions, they can help you to unlock your natural tools of creativity in many areas of your life.”
Tap into your dreams
To uncover your most creative side, first, you need to tap into your dreams, claims Wewer Keohane, artist, psychologist and author of Artful Dreaming: A Primer for Finding Inspiration from your Dreams.
“Imagery and metaphors from our dreams have inspired novels, movies, inventions, paintings, poetry, spiritually revealed knowledge, and other ventures,” says Wewer.
“The contemplative practice of dream work balances the brain, so the feminine ‘being’ part can be manifested by the masculine ‘doing’ part, assuring authentic creativity produced by harmony, not ego.”
She adds: “You can incubate solutions to your personal or business problems by asking your Dreamer Within to help. Before you go to sleep, capsulise your problem into a question, asking for a resolution. Keep your eyes closed when you wake up in the morning to recall the dream and unravel the metaphors for your answer.”
Embrace that bad mood
If you find yourself in a particularly positive or negative mood, it’s time to embrace it, because it can help you come up with all sorts of creative ideas, says Jing Zhou, professor of management at the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University.
“Research has shown that negative moods can facilitate problem finding,” she says. “Meanwhile, positive moods have the potential to promote divergent thinking. [However] a downside of positive moods is that people tend to feel all is well and are satisfied with the status quo.”
She adds: “To maximize the power of positive and negative moods for creativity, people need to find social support—supervisors, family and friends who can offer developmental feedback to the new ideas they have come up with. Such smart use of moods can help people excel at achieving everyday creativity.”