Saturday, September 5, 2015

Read More to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

Think you’re not creative? You’re not alone.

Creativity is a subject that can bring angst to some people because they think they aren't creative or that they don't know how to be creative. Of course this really isn’t true. Each and every one of us has the potential to tap into our creative side. It's just a matter of practice and doing it regularly so we train ourselves to be creative. One of the ways you can do this is by reading on a very wide range of subjects. Reading stimulates your brain and that's what gets your creative juices flowing.
Not just any reading will do, though. Blog posts, short articles, magazines and the like are all a fun diversion, but they simply won’t turn your brain on the way a good book will. Here’s why.

Reading Stimulates Your Brain
Just as an Olympic Gold Medalist has to keep fit if they want to compete well, you must exercise your brain to keep it stimulated in order for creativity to flow. Your brain needs just as much exercise as the rest of your body. It's time to start focusing on the importance of exercising your brain every day. Set aside 20 minutes a day to go to a quiet place, pick up a book and read.

And don't always read the same thing. Stretch yourself and choose different genres to read from. If you normally read romance novels, pick up a biography instead. Immersing yourself, even if just 20 minutes a day, in different subjects will really help your mind start to look at the world differently and in turn help your creativity start to come out.
Reading Improves Your Concentration

With all the gadgets and electronics out there, it seems like we're always plugged into what's going on in the world. Most people are never truly concentrating on just one thing. Not that being plugged in is a bad thing, but sometimes it's a good idea to take a break from the negativity (and all the gadgets!) going on around us. And while there is sometimes a place for multi-tasking, we need to take a break from that too.
When you read, it forces you to unplug and focus on just one thing in order to be fully engaged with the book. The more you do it, the more you'll get used to concentrating on just the task at hand and that will help improve your concentration skills. By exercising that muscle, your creative thinking skills will develop more as well. Being able to concentrate helps you think more clearly and that's when those creative thoughts come out.  

Reading Improves Your Vocabulary
Reading is one of the best ways to increase your vocabulary skills and while you may be wondering what vocabulary has to do with being creative, it can play a big role, especially if you're a creative writer, blogger, etc. Most writers out there will tell you that they spend a certain amount of time reading every day. The more you read, the more you will improve your vocabulary and you'll probably be surprised at all the different words you start to see in your writing.
Aside from reading being a way to help you be more creative, books are fun. So what are you waiting for? Grab a book, set a timer every day for 20 minutes and start exercising that brain of yours and see how fast your creative thinking skills improve.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Practice Makes Perfect - How Brainstorming Improves Creativity

Most people, when they hear or think of creativity, think it's only important to people like musicians, artists, photographers, etc. But that isn't the case. Creativity is essential to each and every one of us. Thinking creatively allows us to find new ways to solve common problems, among many other things. If you want to know how to boost your creativity, one of the best ways is to practice and improve your brainstorming skills.

What do you think of when you think of brainstorming? More than likely the first thought that popped into your brain wasn't anything to do with using it as a technique to hone in on your creativity. Usually brainstorming is associated with business related things. Remember those terrible meetings where everyone shouts out ideas and someone jots them down on a whiteboard only to erase them later for being unusable? Brainstorming doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, it can be a fun way to work on developing your creative side.
Those awful meetings did get one thing right: the first thing you need to do is let go of the self-criticism and self-judgment. Whether that be about creativity (I don't have a creative bone in my body) or brainstorming (I don't know how to brainstorm) or both, you have got to let it go or you're not going to have an open mind to be able to think clearly. Once you've done that you can move into the brainstorming phase.

For your actual brainstorming session, grab a piece of paper and pen and get ready to draw it out. Something like a simple mind map will work. That might mean drawing a big circle in the middle of the page and then connecting smaller circles to that. The big circle is going to be the main focus point (for example a problem you currently have) and then all the little circles connected to that one are going to be the different ideas/solutions as to how to work that problem out.
Not a fan of mind maps? Try just making a big list of ideas. Some people call this a “brain dump” and it works exactly the same way as a mind map. The idea is to get as many ideas out of your head and on to the paper as possible. Don’t think about whether a specific solution will work, just write it down. You’ll go back later and refine them.

One fun thing to experiment with is using a timer. Set your kitchen timer for 5 minutes and aim to get as many thoughts and ideas down on paper as possible. This race against the clock can help you stop criticizing and instead focus on quantity, which isn’t something we do naturally.
Don't spend a lot of time on this process. The idea with brainstorming is that you want to do it fairly quickly and generate as many different ideas (solutions) as you can within that short span of time.  Once you've done the brainstorming picture (mind map - whatever you choose to call it), then you can narrow down all those different solutions you listed until you get down to the top two or three that you think will work best.
As you begin to practice brainstorming, you'll find that it gets easier and easier for your creative side to come out and that's the goal. So, set aside some time (it doesn't have to be a large chunk of time, even 10-15 minutes) each day to brainstorm and it will help you develop more of your creativity.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Your Personal Creativity Playlist: Kickstart Those Creative Juices With Music

Are you feeling overwhelmed or burnt out? Then it's time to get your creative juices flowing. But how do you do that if you're not feeling the least bit creative? There are so many different things you can do - take a walk, read a book, watch a movie, talk to a friend, just to name a few - but we're going to focus on something that Albert Einstein used to do, and that's listen to music.
Now Albert Einstein didn't just listen to any music, he listened to Mozart. And there's a reason behind that. The reason Mozart was a good choice and helped get Einstein's creativity flowing is because research has proven that certain music compilations and songs allow the brain to be more creative. 

So does that mean you have to follow in Einstein's footsteps and listen to Mozart to get your creative juices flowing? Not at all. Talk to a group of people and more than likely if you ask them what music makes them feel creative and helps them think better, no two of them will give the same answer. Music has different effects on different people, so don’t think you have to cultivate a love for classical music to benefit.
Different types of music can also have different affects on your mood. Think about it - when you want to relax do you listen to the music you like to work out to? Probably not. Your workout music is more than likely upbeat and fast paced not something slow and soothing that you can relax to. And vice versa - you wouldn't want to try and workout to your playlist of relaxation music.  And it's no different when it comes to turning on those creative juices. You'll have to find the music that inspires and motivates you.

Here's a tip to keep in mind: when it comes to music and creativity, once you find some music that helps get you in that creative space, stick with it and listen to it over and over whenever you need to be in a creative frame of mind. Soon you're brain will recognize that when listening to this specific music, it's time to turn on the creativity.
As you can see music is one way you can start to train yourself to be more creative. So start experimenting with some different music to find what brings out a feeling of creativity and innovative thinking within you. And remember, once you find the music that inspires and sparks creativity, keep listening to it whenever you want those creative juices to start flowing.