how to become more creative

Last Updated on August 28, 2023

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how to become more creative

ome people think creativity is a gift—something only bestowed upon the Vincent Van Goghs, Toni Morrisons and Annie Leibovitzes of the world.

But the truth is, creativity isn’t a gift—it’s a skill. And it’s a skill that anyone—painter, writer, accountant, stay-at-home dad, CEO, designer or anyone else—can get better at over time with the right kind of practice.

But what does that practice look like? How, exactly, can you be more creative?

Open break illustration

Turns out, there are three networks in your brain that are responsible for creativity: the executive attention network (which is responsible for focus and attention), the imagination network (which is responsible for—you guessed it—imagination and daydreaming), and the salience network (which is responsible for making connections between the knowledge stored in your brain and your environment). And if you want to become more creative, you need to find ways to engage all three.

Luckily, there’s no one-size-fits-all way to practice creativity. Think about it like running: the ultimate goal is to be a better runner, but there are plenty of ways to get there. You can practice training for a race if you want to be a more competitive runner; practice tempo runs to be a faster runner; or just lace up your shoes and go when you need a post-run endorphin boost (which will certainly make you a happier runner). Different practices, but in each case you wind up a better runner.

It’s the same thing with creativity. There are tons of different approaches you can take depending on your desired outcome—and each approach will give you a different kind of creative boost.

So what, exactly, do some of those practices look like? What are some tangible things you can do to be more creative?

If you’re trying to make room for more creative projects in your life…

1. Put practicing creativity on your calendar

Calendar app design
Calendar app design by inznan

Make room for practicing creativity on your schedule just like you would any other important commitment—and then stick to it. And when I say “make room,” I’m being literal. Block off a specific chunk of time (like Tuesdays from 6:30pm to 7:30pm) and put it on your calendar. Then, when that scheduled time rolls around, follow through and work on a creative project. That might mean brainstorming ideas for a new book, putting a few hours into a new design, or even something as simple as coloring or writing in a journal—what you do doesn’t matter, as long as it’s creative.

Making creativity a priority and putting it on your calendar will activate the executive attention network in your brain and help you focus your attention on your creative projects—which is the first step towards becoming a more creative person.

2. Let yourself be bored

Imagination illustration
Illustration by Ava N Garda

If you’re like most people, you wear “busy” like a badge of honor and schedule every second of your day with one task or another. But when you’re constantly busy, you don’t leave any room for your mind to wander.

If you want to be more creative, you need to let yourself be bored! When you’re bored, you daydream, which activates your brain’s imagination network. And studies show that boredom—and all that daydreaming you do when you’re bored—sparks creative thinking and can lead to a whole slew of new, creative ideas (and new, creative ways of thinking).

If you’re trying to get “unstuck” on a project…

3. Try approaching the project at an unexpected time

If you’re stuck on a project, you need to make new connections and start to look at the project in a different way. And one of the best ways to do that?

Working at the project at a different time.

City at night illustration
Switch up your times to activate your brain’s creativity. Water Bottle design by Dudeowl.

Changing things up and working on projects at an unexpected time can help you think differently. This can activate your brain’s salience network—making it easier to make new, unexpected connections between your knowledge banks and the environment. In fact, a recent study found that you’re more likely to solve “insight problems” (which is psychology-speak for problems that require creativity) when you’re least alert—so, if you’re a morning person, you’ll be more effective at solving creative problems at night. This is likely because thinking creatively requires different areas of the brain—so while you’ll definitely want to tackle analytical problems when you’re at your peak level of attention and focus, more creative problems can actually benefit from a more relaxed mind.

So, in a nutshell—if you’re stuck on a project, try working on it at an unexpected time. This simple scheduling switch up can help you think differently—which can lead to just the creative solution you need to tackle the project.

4. Go for a walk

Sometimes, a change of scenery is all you need to think differently about a problem—and the best change of scenery to foster creative thinking? Getting outside.

Forest illustration
Illustration by Dusan Klepic DK™

Going for a walk (especially outdoors) is one of the best things you can do to boost your creativity and encourage new ways of thinking. It’s been shown to increase creative output by up to 60%—likely because spending time outside can activate all three of the brain’s creativity networks (you’ll engage the executive attention network because you’ll have to focus on where you’re going; you’ll be free to daydream, which activates the imagination network; and all the new stimuli in your environment will activate the salience network).

Creativity bonus points: if you want to supercharge your walk’s creativity benefit, pop in some headphones and listen to “happy music,” which research shows facilitates divergent thinking and delivers a potent boost to creativity.

If you’re trying to strengthen your creativity muscle…

5. Try something outside of your creativity comfort zone

If you’re already involved in creative pursuits but want to build your creativity muscle, step outside of your creativity comfort zone and try something completely new.

Step outside of your comfort zone
Image via Bernd Geropp YouTube

If you’re a designer, try writing a poem. If you’re a writer, try practicing a new instrument. The point is, there are a lot of different ways to be creative—and when you try something new, it can help your brain create new connections (hello again, salience network!) and inspire a new kind of creativity. Then, that new kind of creativity can help you be more creative in other areas of your life (so writing a poem can help inspire new ideas in your designs, or playing an instrument can help you become a better writer). Switching tasks has been shown to increase creativity—and when you’re switching between inherently creative tasks, it’s an even greater benefit.

6. Become an idea machine

When it comes to creativity, there are few people more well-versed on the topic that James Altucher. Altucher is a best-selling author, investor, podcast host and creativity powerhouse. And according to Altucher, the reason he’s been able to find such a diverse set of creative successes? His dedication to being an “idea machine.”

Live & Learn Classes Logo design
Logo design by DesignsMadeWithLove for Live & Learn Classes

Every morning, without fail, Altucher sits down and writes down 10 to 20 new ideas. They don’t have to be good. They don’t have to lead to any big business idea. The only criteria is that they be new and interesting.

Forcing yourself to write down new and interesting ideas on a daily basis engages all three of your creativity networks—the imagination network (since you’re thinking of completely new concepts), the executive attention network (since you need focus and attention to develop new ideas), and the salience network (since you’re looking for new connections between concepts you already know). This will help you develop new, creative ways of thinking—and see new connections you weren’t able to see before.

Carve out time every morning to work on your new ideas—and, most importantly, don’t worry about whether your ideas are good or not. The simple practice of sitting down and thinking creatively every day will flex that creativity muscle and help you become a creative idea machine.

Practice to be more creative

Creativity isn’t something that’s reserved for geniuses. It’s available to everyone, no matter who you are or where you’re at in your life—all you have to do is practice.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start developing your creative strengths—we can’t wait to see what new and amazing things you come up with!

ways to be creative in life

7 Simple Steps to Developing Creativity in Your Life

There are two hindrances that can stop your creativity. They are your external and internal barriers. Things that limit your imagination or inspiration are internal barriers and examples of external obstacles are weak expression or presentation skills.By Mehdi Toozhy, ContributorOxford Graduate, Scientific Researcher, Mechanical Engineer and author of Keys to Success at School and Beyond08/25/2015 08:29am EDT | Updated August 25, 2016This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

“Innovation is often given complex definitions. We prefer the simple one: ‘New Ideas that Work.'” — Geoff Mulgan, Chief Executive of the National Endowment for Science Technology and Arts

Do you think you are a creative person? If yes, you should know most people never benefit from being creative. True creative people have a developed ability to use and observe all of their resources, senses, and knowledge to help them succeed. So take the time to “sharpen your blade,” because there is a long road ahead.

There are two hindrances that can stop your creativity. They are your external and internal barriers. Things that limit your imagination or inspiration are internal barriers and examples of external obstacles are weak expression or presentation skills.

This article includes some simple steps to increase your creativity. So, let’s begin!

Steps to Develop Creativity

1. Stop depending on others.

Start learning to use your own resources. Look around for what you do have and how you can make the best use of those resources. This will be a little tough in the beginning, but with time, you will adjust.

This doesn’t mean you will be alone and that you may disobey superiors. This just means you can build a learning capacity — learning from others. It means making proper interactions and creating your own resources.

2. Dream, think, and create.

You have to believe you have an amazing mind full of thoughts and ideas. You need to express them. Tell them to others and see what they say. Some of your ideas may seem funny to you, or inappropriate, but that doesn’t matter. It’s been said a man is as big as his/her dreams. So, don’t stop dreaming and when it’s time to give shape to your dreams, express your best approach.


3. Surround yourself with excellence.

Pablo Picasso said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” That means, good people learn from better people, and better people learn from the best. You can’t develop your creativity when you’re surrounded by those who keep on discouraging and distracting you. So have some real talented people around you, and learn from them.This is not only about surrounding yourself with talented people, it’s about knowledge. Don’t limit yourself. Always study and experience a variety of new things. This can propel your creativity forward.

4. Look for some non-value-added jobs.

Include in your daily schedule, hour or more to listen to your hobbies. It can be gardening, collecting souvenirs, painting or anything you like.

Maybe these things aren’t going to benefit you financially, but it will definitely help wake up your creativity.

5. Fight your fear of failure.

The fear that you might make a huge mistake or fail in your efforts to do something new, can paralyze your creativity. You need to remember mistakes will always be there — there are simply part of the creativity process. Many great minds struggle with fear of failure, but they never gave up and they kept trying until they succeeded.

However, to overcome your fear of failure; analyze every potential outcome, make a contingency plan and think about the worst possible scenario. This will help you to regain confidence and start over with full confidence.

6. Expand your comfort zone.
People are often stuck in their comfort zone and afraid to try new things in life. That can be a huge problem because when we have the same routine — our creativity will just die. We need to change things and allow different adventures to boost our creativity.

You don’t need to climb the highest mountain, but you can do some simple things like going to visit a nearby city, talk to a stranger, read a book from genre that you never read.

7. Keep your stress away — enjoy life.

Don’t let yourself to be down about your failures or stressed out. Take a long drive by yourself, hang out with your friends and family or just go to the movies! All these things will help you get back on track.

When we are feeling down, our creativity is stuck inside us and it hard to think of any new idea in that state of mind. That is why it’s important to fight it and just enjoy life.

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