100 Ways to Boost Your Creativity
“Art, freedom and creativity will change society faster than politics.” — Victor Pinchuk
It doesn’t matter what your life is like. If you’re an artist or an entrepreneur, or both. Creativity is the beating heart of a million different things. It’s what’s going to help us survive — well, if you’ve turned on the news at all in the last several months, you know. Everything.
Here are 100 ways that you can kick up your creativity. There are quotes, videos, articles, songs. Some are mine. Most aren’t.
One hundred little things. They’re divided into ten categories: Read, write, create, make, connect, watch, stretch, learn, stop, and start.
“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”
On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft
Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer, this special edition of Stephen King’s critically lauded…
“Words create sentences; sentences create paragraphs; sometimes paragraphs quicken and begin to breathe.”
“Every occupation — from artist to businessperson, teacher to chef — requires us to imagine, create, and execute ideas. No matter what you’re doing, you’re being creative.”
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
A succinct, engaging, and practical guide for succeeding in any creative sphere, The War of Art is nothing less than…
“Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.”
Wishcraft: How to Get What You Really Want
Cindy Fox was a waitress. Now she’s a pilot. Peter Johnson was a truck driver. Now he’s a dairy farmer. Tina Forbes was…
“Every single one of us can do things that no one else can do — can love things that no one else can love. We are like violins. We can be used for doorstops, or we can make music. You know what to do.”
“The only truly safe thing you can do is to try over and over again. To go for it, to get rejected, to repeat, to strive, to wish. Without rejection there is no frontier, there is no passion, and there is no magic.”
The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education
An estimated 700,000 American children are now taught at home. This book tells teens how to take control of their lives…
“Learning is not a product of teaching. Kids are born learning. They learn how to walk, how to talk. They’re basically little scientists. If we don’t stop that process, it will continue.”
P.S. Everyone should read this book. I don’t care how old you are.
8. Austin Kleon’s Newsletter
Austin Kleon’s Weekly Newsletter
Every week I send out a list of 10 things I think are worth sharing — new art, writing, and interesting links straight…
9. Seth Godin’s Blog
An intensive, 4-week online workshop designed to accelerate leaders to become change agents for the future. Designed by…
10. Any novel (literally)
Here are two that I found especially creative:
Ready Player One: A Novel
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked…
11. 10 minutes every day
12. A daily log book
ON KEEPING A LOGBOOK
An expanded version of this post appears in my book, Steal Like An Artist . “Writers are the custodians of memory, and…
13. Thank you letters
A real thank you does not come by e-mail. They come in the mail in an envelope. And what comes out of an envelope is a beautiful thing to touch and to handle and to pass around for everyone to read. — Letitia Baldrige (Jacqueline Kennedy’s Social Secretary)
14. Love letters
Johnny Cash’s Love Letter To June Carter Is One For The Ages
Johnny Cash was one hell of a songwriter — that’s widely known. But the Man in Black was no slouch when it came to…
15. A daily list of ideas
“One thing to try is to write down 10 ideas a day. This exercises the idea muscle and gets you 100x more creative than the average person over time.
They could be business ideas, ideas to help other businesses, book ideas, or even ideas to surprise your spouse. Another trick is to take Monday’s ideas and combine them with Tuesday’s ideas. “Idea sex” is an awesome source of creativity.” — James Altucher
16. A manifesto
How to write a simple and beautiful manifesto. | Alexandra Franzen
Traditionally, a manifesto is a written statement where you publicly declare your… — Intentions (what you intend to…
Frank Lloyd Wrights: Apprentice Manifesto
1. An honest ego in a healthy body.
2. An eye to see nature
3. A heart to feel nature
4. Courage to follow nature
5. The sense of proportion (humor)
6. Appreciation of work as idea and idea as work
7. Fertility of imagination
8. Capacity for faith and rebellion
9. Disregard for commonplace (inorganic) elegance
10. Instinctive cooperation
17. A novel
Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writers
In one of my favorite Stephen King interviews, for The Atlantic , he talks at length about the vital importance of a…
Sign up for my free classes to get you started. I’d start with How to Develop + Test a Story Idea.
18. On Medium
I blogged every day for a month. Here’s what happened.
The results of a Quora + Medium experiment.
19. Something that makes you uncomfortable
“With ideas it is like with dizzy heights you climb: At first they cause you discomfort and you are anxious to get down, distrustful of your own powers; but soon the remoteness of the turmoil of life and the inspiring influence of the altitude calm your blood; your step gets firm and sure and you begin to look — for dizzier heights.” — Nikola Tesla
“I like books that don’t give you an easy ride. I like the feeling of discomfort. The sense of being implicated.” — Zadie Smith
“Don’t wait for things to be perfect before you share them with others. Show early and show often. It’ll be pretty when we get there, but it won’t be pretty along the way.” ― Ed Catmull
“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something — anything — down on paper. What I’ve learned to do when I sit down to work on a shitty first draft is to quiet the voices in my head.” — Anne Lamott
21. A crazy plan.
Get your brain working in a creative direction. Plan something so ridiculous, so out-of-control-never-going-to-happen that your rational brain checks out and you can just free range imagine. Plan a heist. Plan a move to Mars. You get it.
How to Exercise Your Most Important Muscles
Curiosity, Courage, Confidence, and Constancy
“Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” — Lewis Carrol, Alice in Wonderland
22. Time for pleasure reading
23. A creatorial calendar
Like an editorial calendar, only for whatever it is that you’re creating. Yes, I did just make up that word. It’s okay. Still do it. Here’s what I use:
How to Use a Notebook to Reach Your Writing Goals
FRED will help you finish your novel
24.Something you wish someone would create for you
“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire; you will what you imagine; and at last you create what you will.” — George Bernard Shaw
I’ve always said that — if you want to be a writer — you must write the book that you feel is missing from the world. You must write the book that fills in that spot on the bookshelf that somehow feels empty to you. You must write the book that you yourself would love to read.
Similarly, if you are an artist, you must paint the picture you would like to see.
You must write the song you would like to hear.
You must build the house you would like to live in.
You take nothing, and you turn it into something: That’s creativity.
But maybe it’s like that with everything in life — not just the arts. Maybe the arts are just the most literal definition of taking nothing and making it into something. Maybe in all realms of life, you must somehow figure out how to create the things that are missing from you.
– Elizabeth Gilbert
26. Good art
27. A meal plan
Writer With a Life: Meal Planning — Ninja Writers
I have a lot going on. A lot, a lot. There’s Ninja Writers. And managing a new business. And working on my next book…
28. A world view
My worldview: I believe that a good story, well told, can change the world.
What You Write About Doesn’t Matter as Much as You Think
Most writers focus on the wrong thing. They have a simple, but dangerous, belief that holds them back from creating…
29. An idea that will help you not be a starving artist
“I realised the bohemian life was not for me. I would look around at my friends, living like starving artists, and wonder, ‘Where’s the art?’ They weren’t doing anything. And there was so much interesting stuff to do, so much fun to be had.” P. J. O’Rourke
30. Your definition of success
“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” — Pele
“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.” — Arthur Ashe
31. A dinner diary
Why a Dinner Diary?
I’ve never met a diary I didn’t like. I can still picture my very first one-my dad bought it for me. It was fake…
32. A business plan
Here’s a sample:
33. A list of next steps
The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results
The ONE Thing has made more than 350 appearances on national bestseller lists, including #1 Wall Street Journal…
Gary Keller has a ton of free stuff on his blog.
Resources Archive — The ONE Thing
Download forms you can use to plan your goals by the week, month, year and beyond so that you can focus today on your…
34. Someone else smile
Do it like Buddy Hackett. If you can!
35. A little step forward
Of Monster Dreams and Mouse Goals
These two concepts have changed my life: Monster Dreams and Mouse Goals.
36. A commonplace book
A new (to me) concept for keeping a notebook.
I am a Commonplace Book convert. You should be, too.
The Commonplace Book as a Thinker’s Journal — Critical Margins
For centuries, authors and thinkers have kept commonplace books: focused journals that serve to collect thoughts…
37. One small step forward (everyday)
“Somehow I can’t believe that there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secrets of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four Cs. They are curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy, and the greatest of all is confidence. When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.” — Walt Disney
38. A planner that works for you
Monthly Planner for Writing Accountability: An Annual FRED — Ninja Writers
In case you’re new here: FRED is the Folder for Reaching the End of your Draft. It’s an analog tool Ninjas use to keep…
39. Space for failure
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” — J. K. Rowling
40. Space for the unexpected
“All creative people want to do the unexpected.” — Hedy Lamarr
41. Even if you’re shy
The Exact Steps I Took To Stop Being Shy & Become Confident
I was in my third year of University in Edinburgh. It was not long after I’d first worked in a bar — the place where I…
42. With an email list
Jumpstart Your Email List
My name is Bryan Harris. I am the creator of the Jumpstart Your Email List class. Over the past 18 months, I’ve grown…
43. Off line
I have a perpetual daily challenge for myself: talk to a stranger. It’s the T (for talk) in my WRITER Framework.
44. With your people
If you’re a writer, Ninja Writers is your people! Come join us.
A 3-Step Plan To Find Your Tribe
People desire feeling connected. It’s one of the most innate aspects of our being. And yet, even in this time of global…
45. With a mastermind
Six Steps to a Killer Mastermind Group
Last year I joined a group. It cost what felt to me at the time like an incredible amount of money. More than I’d spent…
46. With your inner editor
Four Ways to Control Your Inner Editor — The Write Practice
If you are a writer, you know about the voice inside your head that talks non-stop while you try and work on your…
47. With an old friend
48. With your fear
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” — Nelson Mandela
49. With the voices in your head
“Through pride we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience a still, small voice says to us, something is out of tune.” — Carl Jung
50. Out of your comfort zone
Why You Need To Do Sh** That Scares You | Nerd Fitness
Greetings from sunny Los Angeles, CA! Today is my first official day of living out of a backpack, as yesterday I took…
51. Old movies
“What is Art, monsieur, but Nature concentrated?” — Honore de Balzac
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” — Albert Einstein
53. People, in general
How People-Watching Makes You a Better Writer — Write It Sideways
The recent search for two paid contributors to Write It Sideways has yielded wonderful results. I received more…
54. People who have already done what you want to do
How to Find a Mentor to Help You Go Further, Faster
I mentored eight young men for three years. It was incredibly rewarding, and I wrote about it several times (see here…
55. People who have failed at what you want to do
“There are tons of people who are late to trends by nature and adopt a trend after it’s no longer in fashion. They exist in mutual funds. They exist in clothes. They exist in cars. They exist in lifestyles.” — Jim Cramer
57. How you talk to yourself
“If you hear a voice within you saying, ‘’You are not a painter,’’ then by all means paint… and that voice will be silenced.” — Gogh, Vincent Van
58. How you talk to other people
59. Your future jumping
Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
― John Lennon
60. Your time wasting
7 Super Habits for Right-brainers
They say Right-brained isn’t real. They‘re probably left-brained.
61. Your imagination muscle.
Science Continues To Show Us How To Be More Creative
Last year I compiled a list of scientific findings around the topic of creativity in my post, “Multiple Creativity…
62. Your curiosity muscle.
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” — Walt Disney
63. Your confidence muscle.
64. Your stick-to-it muscle.
“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” — Francis of Assisi
65. Your brave muscle.
Fearless is a complete crock of bullshit
How to look brave when you‘re really not
66. Your connectivity muscle.
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” — Steve Jobs
67. Your think-outside-the-box muscle.
“Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.” — Coco Chanel
68.Your comfort zone
19 things you can do instead of being comfortable.
Careful is the antithesis of extraordinary.
69. Your brain
The Self-Taught Master: How to Become an Autodidact ⋆ LonerWolf
Ray Bradbury, Frank Zappa, Stanley Kubrick, Benjamin Franklin, Malcolm X, Julian Assange … some of the greatest and…
70. Your capacity for frustration
“It took 10 months for me to learn to tie a lace; I must have howled with rage and frustration. But one day I could tie my laces. That no one can take from you. I profoundly distrust the pedagogy of ease.” — George Steiner
71. How to be bored
72. To set your boundaries
Setting Boundaries for Your Creative Soul — Jennifer Currie
A topic that comes up a lot when I talk to people about making room for creativity in their lives is BOUNDARIES. Being…
73. That your creative work is work-work
Show Your Work!
In his New York Times bestseller Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon showed readers how to unlock their creativity by…
74. To have a thicker skin
75. To take constructive criticism
How to Deal with Creative Criticism
Listening to people criticize our creative work is never easy, but it’s going to happen. So how do we take a punch in…
76. To embrace change.
“What if I told you 10 years from now your life would be exactly the same?
Doubt you’d be happy.
So, why are you afraid of change?”― Karen Salmansohn
77. Something you think you’re too old to learn
Try: roller skating, a language, drawing, playing an instrument, changing your own oil, rock climbing, pitching a curveball, ballroom dancing.
78. Something you should have learned when you were a kid
Try: The fine art of a nap, how to ask for help when you need it, how to color outside the lines, how to be okay with not knowing everything.
79. From masters
Engage with the masters of your art every day for 1000 days. Then see what happens.
The 1000 Day MFA — Ninja Writers
A while ago I wrote about what might be involved in a do-it-yourself MFA. Basically: lots of reading, lots of writing…
80. How to say no and take no
This goes both ways:
“Sometimes “No” is the kindest word.” ― Vironika Tugaleva
81. One habit that’s holding you back.
“The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit. We don’t just put off our lives today; we put them off till our deathbed.
Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny. This second we can turn the tables on Resistance.
This second, we can sit down and do our work.” — Steven Pressfield
82. Comparing yourself to the people in front of you.
“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” — John Acuff
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” — Theodore Roosevelt
83. Tearing down your own house.
This one is about audacity. Actually — having the audacity to think your work is good, or at least has potential. If you’re in the habit of hating what you’re creating, stop that right now. Either the hating or the creating, your choice.
“The first quality that is needed is audacity.” Winston Churchill
84. Seeking approval
“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open. Your stuff starts out being just for you, in other words, but then it goes out. Once you know what the story is and get it right — as right as you can, anyway — it belongs to anyone who wants to read it. Or criticize it.” — Stephen King
85. Being afraid of trying new things
86. Not quitting when you should
The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)
A New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller In this iconic bestseller, popular business blogger and…
“Winners quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt.” — Seth Godin
87. Worrying about sunk costs
Meditating on Those Sunk Costs — Freakonomics
The sunk-cost fallacy leads to all sorts of poor decision-making — like staying too long at a bad job or refusing to…
88. Hiding your light
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” — Marianne Williamson
Tell me, what what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
— Mary Oliver
89. Worrying about things you can’t change
90. Being an asshole
“Self-love is a good thing but self-awareness is more important. You need to once in a while go ‘Uh, I’m kind of an asshole.” — Louis C.K.
91. Getting enough sleep
Sleep deprivation is not a badge of honor
Forgoing sleep is like borrowing from a loan shark. Sure you get those extra hours right now to cover for your overly…
93. Building good habits
25 Habits That Will Make You a Writer
Hard learned lessons distilled from 25 years of writing
94. Watching TV
If You Want to be A Writer, You Should be Watching TV. Here’s Why.
My daughter Ruby and I have this ritual. Twice a week, as we drive home from soccer practice, we listen to Delilah on…
Here’s how I’m doing it.
60 Months to Ironman
Oh, shit. Making my biggest, most secret, most insane goal public. I used to weigh 368 pounds. I’m going to enter an…
96. Building income streams.
I’ll be teaching a class about this in summer 2017. It’s called Anti-Blogging for Creatives. Click below if you want to be on the wait list.
97. Giving yourself gold stars.
Star stickers and calendars, oh my! (aka the BEST WRITING TRICK I KNOW)
Hey lovelies! I’ve been getting asked quite often to explain the “calendar trick” I’m always talking about in regards…
98. Using the 10 year rule.
When something seems too scary to start, to big to take on, too outside your comfort zone, ask this question: How will you feel when you look back in ten years?
Will you be sorry you tried? Will you be glad you took the risk?
99. Being generous.
“It takes generosity to discover the whole through others. If you realize you are only a violin, you can open yourself up to the world by playing your role in the concert.” — Jacques Yves Cousteau
100. Right now.
Shaunta Grimes is a writer and teacher. She lives in Reno with her husband, three superstar kids, and a yellow rescue dog named Maybelline Scout. She’s on Twitter @shauntagrimes, is the author of Viral Nation and Rebel Nation, and is the original Ninja Writer.