Rediscovering Creativity

How do you stay creative? Keeping the creative juices flowing, in whatever it is that you do, whether it be design, advertising, or cleaning houses, is no easy task. How do you keep things interesting? How do you keep yourself from falling flat and running out of ideas? How do you add a little “spice” to your life?

These questions, without a doubt, are ones that every single one of us have faced and will continue to face throughout our lives. One of the biggest challenges as an entrepreneur, marketing guy, and designer is thinking outside the box and coming up with new ideas.

This problem occurs on two levels: 1) We are creatures of habit. 2) Other people are creatures of habit. Breaking yourself and others from what we’re “used to” is no easy task. But being creative, and being passionate about your ideas, it’s extremely contagious.

So how do you stay creative? Here are a few things to think about:

Read Something Different

My friend Amy (who addressed this creativity question herself) and my the better half of Proof, Sam both addressed this recently on their own blogs – the idea of reading something “different”. Read poetry, read a magazine, read a book that’s been sitting on the shelf for the past 10 years, or subscribe to a new blog (maybe even ours). In a world of RSS readers and bookmarking, we’re in the habit of reading from the same “shelf” day in and day out. Today, and moving forward, read something new, the more different from your usual reading, the better.

The musical cure-all

I said it in a Copyblogger article I wrote a while back:

“Music is one of THE biggest sources of inspiration for yours truly – there’s something about the “right” song that can have you from feeling brain-dead with writers block to painting masterpieces like Michelangelo. What a lot of us, especially with modern technology, no longer do is listen to an album from start to finish. Not only should you buy the entire album from an artist, but also listen to each song in from beginning to end. Musicians are artists who usually order the track listings intentionally. Albums tell a story, they paint a picture; and isn’t that what we want to do as writers with our blogs?”

What rings true for curing writers block also holds true for any creative inspiration. Music works wonders and cures all creative ailments. Use it to your advantage and make it a regular part of your day.

Change up your scene

Working from home is great, I’d be silly to complain about being able to sit in my comfy PJs watching Food Network while I work during the day – but it can be and is very much a challenge – whether it be Call of Duty begging me to play or the bed begging me to take a nap, working from home all the time can be extremely counter-productive. The same goes for those of you who are in an office environment 8-10 hours per day – being in the same place for too long stifles creativity.

Change up your environment when you can – work from a local coffee shop, head to the library – go somewhere you’ve never been before and experience something new. It’s amazing what a few hipsters and a warm cup of coffee can do for the creative flow.

Get a Hobby

Often the best thing you can do is to do something totally different. If you’ve been starting at the computer screen for hours trying to figure out one little thing, take a step away and go do something, anything else. Whether it be reading something different, listening to some music, going bowling or taking a long shower, just get away for a bit and focus your mind on something else. Odds are you’ll come back to your work with renewed and rejuvenated perspective.

What do you do to stay creative?

Using one of my new favorite tools, Quora (more on that soon) I posed this question and got some interesting responses for what others do to stay creative:

  • “Try to think of completely other angles than the ones used now (hint: try to be as naive as an 8 yr old).” – Tim van de Rijdt
  • “Talk (and especially listen) to people, a lot.” – Kees Romkes
  • “Creative solutions will magically appear. Most importantly, play with a problem and be irreverent. Try to surprise yourself, because as a fellow copywriter once said, if you can’t surprise yourself with your creation, you’ll never surprise anyone else.” – Dean Turney
  • “I stay creative by not trying to be creative.” – Spencer Cooley

What would you add? How do you inspire your own creativity? How do you stay creative?

(Photo c/o Rob Williams)

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