5 Ways to Improve Creativity

Fitness, Lifestyle, Mindset

There’s something about the allure of ‘the magic pill’ which can overshadow our own innate capacity to think creatively and effectively. Relying on caffeine and stimulants to fuel thought processes disrupt the natural inception of our ideas and subconscious decisions, sidelining the full extent of the our rawest potential to the confines of logic.

There’s nothing worse than having 1001 ideas pouring into your head and being too internally critical or suppressive to the most important dots awaiting to be connected.  Alongside the function of problem solving, for me this is the essence of all creativity, a constant battle of abstraction and reason, the means to a beginning, concluding an end. Every thought and measure of energy which takes shape within a piece of writing, marketing campaign or business model goes through a strict vetting process; meticulous shapes of words on a page, scrunched scraps of paper which don’t make the cut.

If having more energy gets you to the destination of logic or reason even faster, how many other loose or abstract ideas did you miss along the way. Then there are the births of entirely new ideas built upon initially unfamiliar, discarded entities, look at the architecture of the Imperial War Museum, conceptual poetry, art made from rubbish and cigarette butts.

Modafinil, adderal, ritalin and concoctions of study drugs are now a highly dependable means for a lot of people, the difference between getting all or none of your work done at all. These compounds only enhance the means of getting into ‘FLOW’ faster, aid concentration for people with ADHD and other conditions which make for sticking to the task at hand, difficult. If you’re experimenting with different ways of becoming more creative, why not make your first creation a routine, a ritual, checklist that you follow just before you set your mind and words to paper. Ultimately you want to find a sustainable way to work effectively, to deadlines or just without distraction. Drugs or stimulants may help you come up with an original first paragraph, but is the rest of the story going to materialise before the impending comedown or brain fog?

So, without further adieu, my top 5 tips for CREATIVITY

  1. Find your most productive time of the day.

In E. Jean Carroll’s Biography of Hunter S. Thompson, the author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, she revealed the extent of the writer’s working habits, absurdly late nights and infamous drug use. It begs the question however, whether this did in fact facilitate the extent of his creativity or merely pose as a suppressive measure for an otherwise over-abundance of ideas, thoughts, dispositions that didn’t need any much more probing to surface. Your most productive time could be first thing in the morning as you wake, before external distractions and the onslaught of information from your devices. Ditch your emails, socials and impressions, this could be your most impressionable and inspired state. You essentially want to influence your own ideas and create them, not spectate and interact with things that have already materialised around you. It’s great to be supportive of your friends and their businesses, but merely being a spectator to someone else’s race won’t help you finish your own.

Not of all us can commit our entire working day to our own pursuits and products, when the time comes to reflect, it is often hard to distinguish between the two, work and well, still technically work but with even less immediacy of consequences if you didn’t show up. Hold onto at least an hour or two AM/PM, a creative ‘window’ that only concerns and enriches your own thinking or business, ensuring that you’re not forgetting any ideas or losing out on sleep.

2. Don’t wait for ideas, go and find them

Words aren’t going to appear on paper like they would be routinely delivered via a nice neat letter, enveloped within HMRC brown and accurately dated. If anything it’s more like someone throwing a brick through your window, rawness, interaction, profanity, throwing it back, keeping it active. Passing thoughts may feel a random and uncontrollable process, but it’s still a reaction to a question which you may require or have unwittingly demanded from the universe. Unprecedented emotions cannot be pigeonholed or justified by rational thinking. This doesn’t mean that we have to become irrational to facilitate great ideas, but we do have to experience plenty of other means outside the confines of our own comfortable rationale in order to make our thoughts reactive.

J.K Rowling didn’t hallucinate the interior of Gringotts bank from inside a greasy spoons cafe, nor would she have based any of her character’s off the back of routine trips to the dentist. She worked for Amnesty International earlier in her career and had first hand experience with abuse, injustice and all the necessary proponents for the escapist narrative. What we think and what we create are opportunities to either attract or repel elements of the world around us, an eventuality which makes a half cup emptier, the counterpart, fuller. We can either use bad experiences to further influence the world around us negatively or change the narrative. Harry Potter never would have made it to the big screen if he was based on a young asylum seeker seeking refuge from Syria. Rowling’s work was so far removed from her own experiences that it ushered in a highly contrasted genre to the forefront, fantasy. So if you’re looking at writing romance or comedy, don’t just research sweet-tooth love stories, but heartbreak, tragedy, the impending reality of grief.

3. Embrace the noise, messy is more

I believe there are difference’s between the many stages of creativity, and I’m certainly not claiming that procrastination is always a necessary component of such a process, but merely struggling to land on an idea amidst plenty of options is certainly better than having none at all. This is where you write as much as possible down on paper and see what remains to stand out when you come back to your notes. If an idea is good enough it won’t be much different the second time around. Make multiple tabs for each separate thought no matter how irrelevant at the at the time, there’ll be chance to ascertain whether it’s of any use to you once all your ideas are out in the open. Connect the dots and ideas that both compliment each other or even if they are conflicted in some way, everything in life tends to satisfy two poles, compliance, disagreement, love, hate, experience, naïveté, maybe your answer can be found in the antonym.

4. Pair your procrastinations

‘Time inconsistency refers to the tendency of the human brain to value immediate rewards more highly than future rewards’ -James Clear.

What seems appealing right now won’t be when have the same appeal when you’re up to your eyeballs in looming deadlines or consequences that have more immediacy than the ones you face relaxing on the couch. Pair your best and worst tasks together so that you can at least stick out the one that you’re most likely to quit half way through. Coffee and reading, cardio with audiobooks, ironing and chores with your favourite show, if you’re enjoying one thing, you’ll forget how much you hate the other. Procrastinate your way back to productivity if you need to take a break from writing, working and thinking in general. Which brings me onto my last tip…

5. Know when to stop trying

If it’s brain fog that makes it difficult to get out of the starting blocks, finish a paper or come up with a new idea, there’s no point in forcing it, nothing good ever came from that. It’s only when you’ve left something till the last minute like I used to do with all of my university assignments till I realised that I was merely capping my potential at the whims of last minute resorts. You’d have to be pretty lucky or a genius to uncover your greatest ideas and plot-lines the night before a hand-in, but then again, you’ve still got to write the damn thing. Make your best and most creative capacity the most accessible part, your worst being resultant of not effectively making time to process and retain USEFUL information. The very state in which we abuse and suppress when we choose to binge watch series, entertain our irreverence and essentially become expert hoarders of useless information. Encyclopaedias of everything but the knowledge we need and execution of practice.

It’s cultivating this state of confusion, frying your attention with big lights, suspense and drama which makes it all too easy to do everything but the task at hand, but there’s a reason why you can’t think straight. Find out what’s blocking the pathways between, could this be drugs, alcohol, lack of sleep? Stress? All of the above?

Look out for my next blog ‘Rest and Digest’ to find out.

Make the time for yourself and unlock your ‘FLOW’

Jake

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