Part of a painting I did. The script is Khmer script, meaning “Changes”.

Find your creative happy

You know the situation: it’s the eleventh hour and the deadline is looming, and you’ve got creative block! Egads! How do you get out of that? How do you find your creative happy place again? Here’s 30 ways. You’re welcome.

We all want it

No matter what your job is, I’m a passionate believer that creativity plays a crucial part in your individual success, and therefore a crucial part in the success of whatever team or organisation you’re a part of. And by creativity I don’t just mean in the arts and design, but in all areas of business and life.

Creativity means a whole load of things to different people. I get the fidgets and yawns whenever anyone tries to pin creativity down, and define it. I don’t really care about what it is; I do care about how to get yourself in a place where you feel it, and do it… whatever it means to you.

But for me, creativity does include seeing and making connections where others haven’t, re-thinking and re-framing problems in ways that others aren’t, just asking “What if?”, and bravely pursuing opportunities for change where others wouldn’t go.

But it takes effort and practice to get into that ‘creative space’, doesn’t it?

Here’s how others get into it

Over the years, through various companies and projects, I’ve been collecting the various ways that people say they get into that creative space. There are definitely some themes:

  • Doing something out of the routine
  • Doing something to get out of your head, and use your hands and body more
  • Being more spontaneous, and embracing (not pre-judging) serendipity
  • Adopting a ‘child-like’ play mindset; playing with things without a pre-determined outcome
  • Making a relaxing environment around you

I’ve actually collected a lot more than this, but here’s a shortened list of the more interesting ones, in no particular order. This will keep you going, I’m sure:

  1. Keep a writing pad and pen by the bed, to capture any first-thing-in-the-morning ideas
  2. Cook with others
  3. Listen to music and audio books
  4. Surround yourself with inspirational material (visual mood boards, inspirational quotes)
  5. Have a fragrant spa
  6. Have a cuppa tea (the contributor was awkwardly insistent about the spelling on that one)
  7. Meditate
  8. Do something mechanical, not thinking about anything else, like washing the car, or pulling out weeds
  9. Spend time with pets
  10. Get out and exercise
  11. Get a good night’s sleep
  12. Eat chocolate (preferably dark, apparently!)
  13. Always have a whiteboard handy
  14. Practice random doodling and sketching
  15. Seek quiet
  16. Share ideas one-on-one (especially someone you never have before), and bounce off each other
  17. Get a deep, rich understanding of what you’re shooting for
  18. Force yourself to learn a new skill with your hands (insert legal & safety disclaimer here)
  19. If you’re going around in circles, just stop and go do something completely different
  20. Stop reading about creativity, and just go do something ;)

And here’s how I get into it

To these great ideas, I would add my own:

  1. Unplug from everything for a day
  2. Make something simple with your hands (especially making something you’ve never made before out of something you’ve never used before), with no pre-determined outcome of ‘success’
  3. Beef up your confidence by copying something you admire first; kinaesthetic learning is so under-rated!
  4. Talk out the problem with someone you trust
  5. Do something out of your routine; walk a different way home
  6. Try a completely new experience; eat a different cuisine, see a movie you never normally would, befriend someone you never normally would
  7. Quieten and simplify your surroundings
  8. Draw or make something that is meant to fail, like a chair that’s impossible to sit on (it worked for Picasso)
  9. Do something that makes you laugh
  10. Be more curious about everything

Whatever you do, just do your best to keep ‘the editor’ away for a little while. Even if that editor is just you. ;)

So what works for you? How do you get your creative happy?

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