You know that feeling. That jittery sensation you get when you get a sudden burst of inspiration to create, yet nothing comes to mind.
It all catapults into a sense of frustration as you ask yourself, “how to be more creative?”
But contrary to popular belief, it’s perfectly normal to experience that feeling when you are trying to create something new — so much so that there is even a term for it: creative block.
A creative block is a phenomenon best described as an overwhelming feeling of being stuck in the creative process without the ability to move forward and make anything new.
You may find yourself staring at your computer screen or the blank page, struggling to take the next step.
While identifying the problem is part of the solution, the bigger question is why we need to the right side of our brain, which controls creativity.
Why is it important to be more creative?
Creative people have something that not even the best generative artificial intelligence network can replicate — that is their ability to ideate, create, and inspire.
They thrive in going against the norm or thinking outside the box.
Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Oprah Winfrey, Walt Disney, and Steve Jobs are famous examples of creative entrepreneurs and risk-takers who have changed the world with their innovations.
The late former Apple Co-founder, for example, revolutionised mobile phones with his iconic brand of iPhones.
In fact, statistics show that creative people will have an edge when it comes to standing out in the workforce. Here are some numbers:
- Creativity is among the top five skills workers will need by 2025.
- 94% of hiring managers say it is important to consider creativity when hiring a job candidate.
- One study showed that 35 million UK job adverts from 2013 to 2017 found that employers require creativity in jobs that are particularly likely to grow in importance in the future workforce.
Plus, there are plenty of health benefits to being creative.
Learning how to be creative is the first step to tapping into your flow state — a feeling you get when you are completely absorbed in something.
Being in this state reduces anxiety, boosts your mood, and even slows your heart rate.
Creativity also goes beyond just making you happy. Studies show that creative engagement not only reduces depression and isolation, but can also help people with dementia tap back into their personalities and sharpen their senses.
How to be more creative: 5 best ways to bring out your inner creative when you’re not inspired
1. Start with a morning freewrite
Our minds are a bustling marketplace of ideas, a constant current of thoughts flowing beneath the surface, just waiting to be unearthed. On days like this, one way to refocus and gain inspiration is by doing a morning freewrite exercise.
Think of your ideas as bubbles simmering within, often overlooked in the daily hustle. This exercise, like clearing out mental cobwebs, acts as a direct channel to your internal musings.
So, instead of plunging straight into the day’s tasks, take 10 minutes for a digital detox and let your thoughts spill onto paper, capturing everything from the mundane to the extraordinary.
Whether you’re jotting down the twinge in your stomach, the windy morning weather, venting about relentless horns, or reminiscing about a passing stranger — write without hesitance.
This process of free writing inspires creativity, acting like riding an emotional wave without concern for its direction, allowing you to download and release your thoughts, feelings, and stresses.
This eventually resets and declutters your mind, enabling your creative juices to flow.
The morning freewrite isn’t just a creative exercise; it’s also a strategic move to rediscover your perspective and boost productivity, according to a study from Harvard Business School Professor Teresa Amabile.
2. Daydream more
Have you ever been told to “get your head out of the clouds”? Seems like daydreaming gets a bad rap, right? People say it makes you less productive and less focused. But that’s not entirely true.
A study in the Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology found that when people took a break to daydream during a task, their creative juices started flowing, resulting in more unorthodox responses.
When you daydream, your brain isn’t taking a nap; it’s going into overdrive, connecting dots between different ideas and concepts.
This process is known as “spontaneous thought” — it’s like the engine of creativity that cranks out fresh perspectives and solutions.
Science is on board with this, too — studies show that folks who daydream often tend to be more creative and innovative.
So, try this: take a few minutes every day to let your mind roam free. Find a cosy spot and let your thoughts wander without any rules.
Use daydreaming as a superpower to brainstorm solutions for your challenges. Dive into different mental avenues to get those fresh perspectives flowing.
Next time you’re bored and about to scroll through your phone for a quick fix, stop yourself. Instead, let your mind do its thing without any distractions.
When you give in to daydreaming, you might stumble upon a new world of creative ideas and solutions.
3. Listen to music while you work/study
Most people know intuitively that music can be an excellent way to pump yourself up or get the creative juices flowing — and a new study brings some scientific evidence to the connection.
It shows that listening to upbeat tunes can supercharge your imaginative thinking. It’s like a shortcut to inspiration.
Music can transport you to different mental spaces, spurring the imagination and enhancing your overall creative experience. It’s not just about keeping your focus; it also puts you in a good mood and sparks ideas when you need them most.
Another study suggests that listening to happy music promotes more divergent thinking — an essential element of creativity.
In the experiment, participants tried creativity exercises that measured divergent or convergent thinking while being exposed to either silence (the control scenario) or classical music that evoked four distinct emotional states: happy, calm, sad, or anxious.
The results revealed participants who’d listened to happy music had significantly higher scores on divergent thinking than those who’d performed in silence. They not only came up with more total ideas but also more creative and innovative ideas.
Listen to music and see the magic happen the next time you feel uninspired.
While you may have your taste in music, some of the most work/study conducive genres include classical, electronic, and even video game soundtracks.
4. Move your body
Unlocking your inner creativity doesn’t always require inspiration; sometimes, it’s about getting your body moving.
Research suggests that creative energy wanes after 90 minutes, so when you hit a mental roadblock, don’t just stare out the window — stand up, stretch, and get moving.
Creativity thrives when both the mind and body are active. Step away from your desk and walk, do yoga, or other light exercises.
Physical movement increases blood flow, triggers the release of endorphins, and opens your mind to new ideas. Let your thoughts flow freely as you move, allowing your brain to forge unexpected connections.
“Much more of the brain is devoted to movement than to language. Language is only a little thing sitting on top of this huge ocean of movement,” says Neurologist Oliver Sacks.
Allocate 30 minutes daily for a run, an energising yoga session, or desk exercises. This investment will lead to a healthier body and a more vibrant and creative mind.
Have you ever experienced a flood of brilliant ideas while in the car or the shower?
There’s a science behind it — those random moments serve as crucial breaks, allowing your mind to process ideas without getting stuck.
According to psychologist Adrian Furnman, it’s about giving your thoughts “incubation time” after actively working on them.
Beyond maintaining focus, breaks stimulate creativity and problem-solving. Stepping away from tasks allows the brain to forge new connections and generate fresh ideas.
During these breaks, you can explore other interests or simply relax. This mental detachment from the primary task often results in “aha” moments and innovative insights.
Brian Halligan, HubSpot’s CEO and co-founder, is a big advocate for naps at the workplace. His best ideas strike when he’s just falling asleep or waking up.
In an interview with the New York Times, he emphasises creating an office environment that encourages employees to “work less and think more,” even providing nap rooms.
To maximise these benefits, schedule designated break sessions in your calendar. Embrace the power of breaks. Your mind will thank you.