100 Ways to be More Creative

“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.

Read

1. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”

2. On Writing by Stephen King

“Words create sentences; sentences create paragraphs; sometimes paragraphs quicken and begin to breathe.”

3. The Imagineering Workout by Disney Imagineers

“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.”

4. War of Art by Steven Pressfield

“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.”

5. Wishcraft

“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.”

6. Choose Yourself by James Altucher

“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.”

7. The Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Llewellyn

“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

9. Seth Godin’s Blog

10. Any novel (literally)

Here are two that I found especially creative:

Write

11. 10 minutes every day

12. A daily log book

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

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

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

Sign up for my free classes to get you started. I’d start with How to Develop + Test a Story Idea.

18. On Medium

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

20. Imperfectly

“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

Create

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.

“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:

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

28. A world view

My worldview: I believe that a good story, well told, can change the world.

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

Make

31. A dinner diary

32. A business plan

Here’s a sample:

33. A list of next steps

Gary Keller has a ton of free stuff on his blog.

34. Someone else smile

Do it like Buddy Hackett. If you can!

35. A little step forward

36. A commonplace book

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

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

Connect

41. Even if you’re shy

42. With an email list

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.

45. With a mastermind

46. With your inner editor

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

Watch

51. Old movies

52. Nature

“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

54. People who have already done what you want to do

55. People who have failed at what you want to do

56. Trends

“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

Stretch

61. Your imagination muscle.

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.

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

69. Your brain

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

Learn

71. How to be bored

72. To set your boundaries

73. That your creative work is work-work

74. To have a thicker skin

75. To take constructive criticism

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.

80. How to say no and take no

This goes both ways:

“Sometimes “No” is the kindest word.” ― Vironika Tugaleva

Stop

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

“Winners quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt.” — Seth Godin

87. Worrying about sunk costs

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.

Start

91. Getting enough sleep

92. Asking

93. Building good habits

94. Watching TV

95. Exercising.

Here’s how I’m doing it.

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.

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.

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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.