Updated: Nov 30, 2022
Many people think that creativity is something that can’t be taught, that it’s something that just comes naturally. But what if I said there were ways you might cultivate your imagination?
Creativity, it seems, is less of a God-given trait and more of a skill that can be honed with practice.
If creativity is defined as “the ability to expand ideas given a basic premise,” then it stands to reason that this type of extrapolation is reliant on spotting patterns and, as a result, is teachable.
You’ve probably heard the label “creative person” applied to you if you’re an artist, writer, singer, photographer, or designer.
It’s possible that you’ve come up with an original solution to a problem facing your small business. Perhaps you’ve had an experience in class where you offered a novel interpretation of reading and your teacher praised your effort.
Inspiration can strike in a wide variety of settings, professions, and pastimes. But what, exactly, is creativity, and how do we foster it?
What is creativity
Creativity is the process through which one brings one’s thoughts, feelings, and aspirations into actualization.
When you’re in a creative mood, you’re better able to see irregularities, draw unexpected parallels, and generate fresh concepts.
The ability to think creatively is a product of hard labor and, more importantly, innovative problem resolution.
This book, “Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention,” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, provides a rather weighty description of the term.
Creative expression, he argued, is essential to human fulfillment. Most of what makes life worth living, worth experiencing, and worth being a person is the product of creative thought.
Involvement in it makes us feel as though we’re experiencing life to the fullest, unlike any other time.
As well as his book, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is well-known for a TED Talk in which he discusses the creative process and flows as the key to happiness.
He explains in his TED Talk that when you’re in the zone of making something new, like composing music, you forget about everything else going on in your life, including how you feel or what’s going on at home.
Creative thinking learned or born?
Being creative is innate to the human condition, yet we learn to suppress our natural abilities as we mature.
Consider how, as a child, you are encouraged to take art lessons and “reach for the stars,” but as an adult, you are admonished to “grow up” and focus on the “real world” instead.
As we become older, we lose interest in exploring our creative sides. People who think outside the box and don’t have the commercial acumen to implement their ideas may not enjoy the best of receptions at work.
The lack of creativity is something that can be taught, as studies have shown. George Land postulated a test of creativity, and the results showed that youngsters were more creative than adults of the same age.
To gauge their inventiveness, he examined 1,600 children aged 5. Ninety-eight percent were considered creative geniuses, with original minds comparable to those of Picasso, Mozart, and Einstein. After 10 years, he re-examined them.
The percentage fell to 30%. There was a sharp drop to 12% by the time the population was 15 years old. Only 2% of the 280,000 adults he tested were truly creative geniuses.
The good news is that even if you feel you’ve lost your creative spark as an adult, you can learn to develop a fresh perspective and start making time for creative thinking again. Perspectives might shift thanks to the creative process.
Train yourself to become an expert at something new, or do something as easy as visiting a new place, going for a stroll, or starting a new pastime. Creativity in a certain field has been found to develop with experience.
You should also be receptive to change, interested in learning more, and able to brush off setbacks quickly. If you start using these techniques, you’ll soon be able to think in far more original ways.
It’s also possible to discover inspiration through chance. Seventy-two percent of the population has had a lightbulb moment while in the shower. Why? A more imaginative state of mind might be attained through solitary pursuits like taking a shower, going for a stroll, or just daydreaming.
24 ways to improve your creativity
Train your eye for patterns
Recognizing regularities in our surroundings is a great approach to exercising our imagination. If you read a lot of detective novels, for instance, you might notice a handful of recurring themes that determine the outcomes of stories with similar premises.
Some people have a natural knack for seeing patterns, but everyone can benefit by studying math, nature, or art to hone their pattern-recognition abilities.
Take up an instrument and play
Using musical instruments and training your brain and body to work together can help you develop your imagination. Taking up the piano, for example, and practicing the fundamental finger movements can have a profound effect on one’s life.
Numerous notable people, such as Albert Einstein, Oliver Sacks, and Paul Klee, have credited their exposure to music with contributing to their success.
Engage in a game of chess
Chess may not seem like the most imaginative pastime, but the game and its positions have a surprising amount of depth. The opening, middle game, and endgame all feature definite, recurring patterns that blur into each other just enough to allow for unique movements.
Studies have shown that chess players outperformed a control group in the areas of fluency, creativity, and flexibility.
Participate actively in the creative process.
The first thing you should do if you want to be more creative is to make it a priority to hone your creative skills. Do not put off your efforts. Set goals, ask for the aid of others, and devote aside time each day to build your talents. If, for instance, you’d like to become better at painting, set aside time on a regular basis to study the craft.
Expertise is acquired
Mastering a field is a great method to improve your abilities in that area, including your creative ones.
By having a comprehensive understanding of the topic, you will be better able to think of creative or innovative solutions to difficulties. One method to build expertise is through reading about creative people and listening to them speak.
Do something fun to satisfy your curiosity
One major impediment to fostering creativity is the idea that inquiry is an indulgence. Instead of berating yourself for giving in to your curiosity and reading an article all the way to the end, try rewarding yourself. Give yourself the opportunity and the time to investigate new topics.
Even if it’s necessary to motivate yourself with rewards, it’s just as important to learn to motivate yourself for the sake of your own success. The act of creating something new can be its own reward sometimes.
When it comes to improving your creative skills, you must be willing to take risks to advance your abilities. Not every attempt will be fruitful, but you will improve your creative abilities and acquire useful skills either way.
It could be nerve-wracking, for instance, to present your works to the class in a creative writing class. However, the feedback you get from your peers and instructors is often quite helpful.
Do what you can to boost your self-assurance.
Creativity can be stifled by doubt in one’s talents, thus it is critical to work on one’s self-assurance. Take note of your development, applaud your efforts, and keep an eye out for inventive methods to motivate you.
Allow yourself some creative time
Making time for your creative pursuits is essential if you want to improve in this area. Put aside time every week to work on a personal creative endeavor.
Overcome your fear of defeat
Anxiety about making a mistake or failing in your endeavors can freeze action. Remind yourself that failure is an inevitable aspect of learning whenever you feel discouraged. You will get where you need to go, imaginatively speaking, even if you have some setbacks along the way.
You might be surprised to learn that a vigorous workout session can do wonders for sparking your imagination. We can become trapped in a rut of unproductive thought if we don’t get up and move around once in a while.
As one NIH study put it, “physical activity is connected with improved affective experience and enhanced cognitive processing,” suggesting that working out is an excellent strategy for warding off brain fog and exhaustion.
Drawing and photography
“If I try to clarify every small detail in a drawing, it would be like losing the forest for the trees, so it’s simply about getting the contour of the forest,” says American artist Jeff Koons, whose work often depicts iconic pop culture items.
Participating in the fine arts is a wonderful opportunity to develop your creative skills and, as Koons suggests, can help you gain perspective.
Because of the proliferation of online education, courses in visual arts and photography have decreased in price in recent years. Udemy, Skillshare, and YouTube are just a few of the online learning communities that may help you go ahead.
Creative pursuits like photography and painting are highly recommended. The ability to faithfully reproduce or frame visual experiences can alter one’s perspective. It is the artist’s job to draw a likeness of a person or their environment, and they do it by relying on their accumulated visual knowledge to piece together the many elements.
Learn to do nothing at all.
‘There is virtue in work and there is virtue in repose,’ Alan Cohen, a best-selling author, once said. Make full use of both and ignore neither.” You may find that your mind needs a break from the constant processing of articles, blogs, texts, and other forms of digital media.
When the mind is overwhelmed by too much information, productivity and originality suffer. If you need to get back to work after a break, your creativity will thank you for it.
Utilize flowcharts and mind maps
A mind map is a visual organizer that can help you find new perspectives on old problems. Start a mind map with a single word or topic. Then, build a web of related terms and concepts around the main word. Unlike traditional brainstorming, this method encourages the development of several, interconnected ideas.
As you work on a new project, draw up a flowchart to keep track of the steps involved. In other words, consider all the possible ways something could develop. A flowchart is a useful tool for planning, problem-solving, and gaining perspective on the big picture.
Put yourself in uncomfortable situations and open doors for yourself.
Once you have mastered the fundamentals of creativity, you should push yourself to improve your abilities. In order to progress, it is important to seek out more challenging methods, experiment with new ideas, and not rely too much on the answers you have used in the past.
You need to do more than just put yourself in difficult situations if you want to foster your imagination. To do so, you may need to take on a new project or investigate other methods of completing ongoing ones.
Find your motivation
Never assume that inspiration will come from nowhere. To come up with original solutions to problems and ideas for new projects, it’s important to regularly expose yourself to new sources of motivation and inspiration.
You can relax by doing something you enjoy, such as reading, going to a museum, playing or listening to music, or having a heated discussion with a buddy.
If a certain tactic or approach seems to be particularly effective, stick with it. How about video games? Playing video games has been shown to be a good way to stimulate one’s imagination.
Don’t rule out any possibilities
Asking “what if…” questions can help you think through every conceivable solution to an issue. What would happen if you did this or that?
Considering these options in advance will help you think of novel approaches to resolving issues.
Use a snowball effect
Isn’t it interesting how often one brilliant thought inspires another? This can be used to your advantage by employing a “snowball technique” while coming up with ideas for a task. If an idea doesn’t fit in with what you’re doing right now, file it away for later or save it for a future endeavor.
Master the art of unwinding
When you take some time out to unwind, you refresh your brain and open yourself up to a more creative state of being. There are various techniques to relax and unwind, freeing up your mind for better creativity. To unwind, try doing something as simple as taking a stroll on the beach or as involved as playing your favorite sport.
By stilling the mind, meditation provides relief from the continual chatter of the mind. You can find peace of mind and the ability to think more clearly and creatively by practicing a variety of meditation techniques.
Writing down your thoughts as soon as they spring into your head is a terrific habit and is a training exercise for the brain to keep the ideas coming. You won’t have to worry about forgetting your thoughts if you write them down, and your mind will be free to go on to other ideas.
Stop criticizing yourself
That you are giving it your all frees your mind to think creatively. Never be harsh or criticize yourself, and learn to accept yourself for the way you are. Your self-limiting beliefs will no longer serve as a roadblock to your creativity if you accept the fact that you are creative.
Be sure to schedule some reading time
Reading is the best hobby because it allows you to escape from the world and at the same time, it helps you think more critically. Reading expands one’s horizons and inspires original thought.
You shouldn’t force yourself to enjoy reading if it’s not your thing; instead, try devoting only 30 minutes a day to reading about something that interests you. It can be whatever you like from a hobby to your favorite sport. Devoting a fixed amount of time every day gets you reading one or two novels each month with little effort.
Play some Bach or Beethoven
The brain performs better and is more creative when listening to specific music and compositions. Albert Einstein realized this and always owed his inventiveness to listening to Mozart. Mozart’s music helped him concentrate, though he couldn’t explain why.
Science now backs up the assumption that listening to music might improve one’s cognitive abilities. Certain frequencies, commonly known as isochronic tones and binaural beats, have a stimulating effect on the brain, boosting creativity and performance.
Improved cognitive function has been demonstrated through the use of engineered sound files with investigated frequencies. When listening to Mozart through stereo headphones, you rapidly feel a boost in thinking and inventiveness.