Take Your Creativity to the Next Level
Learn the power of observation, imagination, and being present
What do you do when you feel like your creative well runs dry? Where do you turn to? Do you have the tools in place to help kick-start your creativity again?
Learning to carefully observe the world around you, and to wield the power of your imagination — connecting dots, seeing patterns, linking ideas and more — while fully engaging in the moments around you can help you avoid that ugly feeling of coming up dry on ideas. More, it is a powerful way to reboot your creative energy and find new inspiration.
Let’s dive in and take a closer look.
It sounds like a bullshit cliche, and maybe it’s been said enough to count as one, but the world we live in is absolutely overflowing with ideas. It takes a bit of practice, effort, and sometimes some sweat equity to see and appreciate these ideas, but the fact is, they’re all around us.
Being able to pop the hood, take a closer look, tinker with the patterns and the rhythms of the world is our job as creatives. It’s also the starting place to discovering these ideas.
Don’t just take note of the crooked tree with those sharp, angular branches clawing at the sky…tell me what kind of tree it is, what time of day, and most importantly, how do you feel seeing this?
That’s the power of observation.
Don’t just casually acknowledge the things that snag your attention, give them their due. Pay attention fully. Break down what you’re seeing, how it makes you feel, how it connects to other things you’ve seen, felt, and understood.
Look for the details in the cracks.
Try asking yourself:
- What’s the texture
- What color is it? What shade?
- How does it make me feel?
- What does it remind me of?
- If you had to describe this to someone who had never seen this before, how would you do that?
But it’s not enough to just observe. You have to dig at what you’re seeing, feeling, experiencing too. You have to get at the “why” behind it, why did this thing capture your attention? What’s the connection? What’s the link?
Use the power of your imagination to draw on other things you’ve seen, felt, and experienced that this reminds you of. Are there connections between these things? Is there a pattern, a series, some reason these repetitions are standing out to you?
Flip the script, what is this not at all like? What’s something this is starkly in contrast with that can help you describe it, sense it, experience it? What is it’s antithesis? And how does knowing it’s striking counterbalance help you see and experience this thing more closely?
Engaging with the present moment
And of course all of this requires you to be fully in the moment. But not just this moment, but also other moments where you’ve seen and experienced similar things (or their striking opposites). You have to ground yourself in these moments and become fully aware, fully connected, and fully immersed in the observation and its experience.
Dig deeper, find the roots, draw everything you can from this. This is the beginning of powerful ideas that you’re getting at.
Keep a journal
You will need somewhere to record all of these observations and their connections, and one of the best places for this is a journal. It’s a great place to write what you’re seeing, experiencing, feeling, connecting with and more, and a great place to come back to and reflect on, to draw out those connections mentioned earlier.
And remember, journals are more than their physical reality, at least it has been my experience anyway. A journal can feel like a trigger element, the scribblings in between its pages awakens that dreaming part of your mind and can stir old memories back to the surface. It’s a powerful powerful tool and a very effective way to spark creativity.
Some things to write in your journal that will help you with creativity:
- What you saw, heard, felt and experienced
- Why you think it stood out to you
- What it reminded you of
- Connections, patterns, personal and universal symbols you sense in what you experienced
- Your emotional responses to it
Wrapping things up
If you want to be more creative, you have to go deeper than just scratching the surface when you watch the world around you. You have to observe, and I mean really observe. It has to become a part of your autopilot as much as your conscious effort. You and your creativity are partners in this effort, and you have to develop a keen sense of partnership — synchronicity — with that inner self.
Trust me, your soul will stir, you’ll sense the goose-flesh crawling, and you’ll feel the chill when your creativity wants you to notice something. You just have to learn to be in tune, paying attention and ready to receive.
Ultimately, if you want to be more creative, practice creativity. It sounds painfully simple and obvious, and in so many ways it can be, but it’s also a complex effort that will require your continued pursuit. But you can get there, and with time and learning the power of observation, imagination, and engagement with your present moments, you will.