Like me, you may think you’re not a particularly creative person. But thinking of yourself as a “have not” in itself can stunt your creative efforts. Instead, think in terms of ways you can stir the creative juices we’re all born with.
Creativity is often a matter of work and discipline more than innate ability.
Try developing some of the following habits to stir your writing creativity.
Habit #1. Reject the “Yeah, but…” mentality.
Allowing yourself to say “Yeah, but I’m really not …” is really an excuse for stepping away from the task and giving up. It’s refusing to offer an honest effort before you even begin. Instead, refuse to shut down, and change the phrase to “Yeah, and I’m going to …” These words confirm you commitment to the task and the value of your efforts.
Habit #2. Brainstorm with other writers.
Ask for ideas from other writers. Get together over lunch or during a brief teleconference. Interaction with others can stimulate new ideas and bring fresh perspectives to your thinking.
A 2015 study by researchers at Rice University backs a similar concept. Researchers evaluated sales representatives at a pharmaceutical company in China. Those with wide networks of contacts devised more creative solutions to sales and marketing challenges.
Habit #3. Give yourself freedom.
Don’t forget to take breaks and relax. Take time to read and make your spiritual life a priority. Your best research comes from listening and learning from your surroundings. Creativity allows you to say yes to new forms of expression and learning. Learn a new skill or pursue a talent. Finish an educational degree or take culinary classes. Give yourself freedom to be creative and express the spirit of wonder God created inside us.
Habit #4. Reward your efforts, even if you see them as failures.
Leslie Ehm, president at Toronto creativity training firm Combustion, defines creativity as “combining previously uncombined thoughts and ideas to create new thoughts and ideas.” We are a culture that has become overly focused on “right” answers. However,
Creativity is a process and not an outcome.
Therefore, we need to reward ourselves for our creative efforts, not the outcome of our efforts. We must dare to risk and learn to see the value in creativity itself.
Habit #5. Always be working on new writing projects.
Focus on projects that flow from your life and your passions. Keep five or six idea files going at a time, and build them as ideas occur or as you have inspiration to write. As you walk through life, look for relevant or ancillary information you believe could be useful and add those notes. Authors call this process “composting.” Allow this composting process to continue and for ideas to germinate and grow until you feel the time comes to begin actual organization and writing. You may also want to include perspectives from other authors, experts, or contributors.
Habit #6. Don’t quit.
Building your creative muscles won’t happen overnight. Ask another author to encourage you, or find a partner or two who can serve as partners in creativity.
What about YOU? What suggestions can you share for stimulating your creativity as a writer?