Some days, I have a hard time getting my creative juices flowing.
It has been especially difficult during the last few weeks, as we have banded together apart to stay at home and curb the coronavirus outbreak.
As co-founder and chief creative officer of Brand825, our clients (and my livelihood) depend on my ability to be creative, so I don’t have the luxury of off-days.
If you find yourself staring at a blinking cursor on your computer screen, a blank canvas or whatever your particular outlet may be, here are three things you can do to instantly kick your creativity into gear:
Embrace the Silence
I am a person who enjoys noise. To me, collaboration is a fuel for creativity and I often listen to music while I work. But even in the best conditions I can hit a rut, so I often turn to silence to shake myself out of it. And I’m certainly not alone.
Questlove, the charismatic drummer, author and bandleader of the Roots, says silence is important for him to be creative.
“That’s really, really important—to be in a secluded, quiet place where you can hear your thoughts,” he says. “I embrace the idea of being bored and just sitting around. That’s when the best ideas come to you.”
Try it. Take five minutes and find a secluded space away from co-workers (or kids), turn your music off and silence your phone and put it away. You’ll be amazed at all the ideas that will pop up.
Use a Pencil
I have the benefit of being ambidextrous when it comes to writing and working on my computer. I often write and draw with my left hand, while using the mouse with my right hand.
This is a great method for cranking out work, but it can fall short when I’m trying to generate ideas. If I’m working on several assignments that require creative ideas faster than my brain can produce them, I like to go old school and reach for a tried-and-true pencil and paper.
Not only does it feel great to write on paper when we’re so used to swiping screens with our fingers, but subbing out your computer for writing tools cuts out all the distractions that come with your computer. After all, you can’t check email, send an IM or surf Instagram on a piece of paper.
Laugh It Out
The news and uncertainty surrounding coronavirus is constantly swirling around us on TV, social media and at the dinner table. If you’re like me, this constant barrage is leading to an increase of fear and anxiety—both of which are notorious creativity killers.
For me, the best medicine against fear and anxiety is laughter. Laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts mood, quells pain and staves off stress. And that’s not just my opinion, it’s science! In fact, there is a branch of science called gelotology dedicated to the study of laughter and its effects on the body from a psychological and physiological perspective.
According to author Moses Ma, EEG topographical brain mapping has shown that the entire brain has to work together to fully appreciate a joke. In other words, humor is a great way to warm up your brain for creative work!
So, the next time you’re feeling stuck, seek out something funny and enjoy a good belly laugh. Not only will it reduce those forehead wrinkles you’ve been accumulating from the hours of concentration, it will clear out stress and make room for creative ideas to find their way to your brain.
I hope these tips work as well for you as they do for me. Now, go create something!
Cindy Baker, Brand825’s co-founder and chief creative officer, has been spitting creative fire for more than 25 years. She has created visual solutions that drive business strategies for Mercedes-Benz, Comdata and Asurion, to name a few. When she’s not building websites or designing unforgettable logos, Cindy can be found enjoying life on a motorcycle.