Picture this: You’re sitting at your desk, trying to find a creative idea that will differentiate your business, product or service. You find none. Enter the conference room, and a structured brainstorming session is called for, to tap into an innovative streak… you leave the meeting without a spark. It may feel like a lost cause, but creativity needs to be revived, and there are many ways to go about it.
Typically, we are all born with unbounded creativity. As children, both creativity and wild imaginations are channeled through role play, arts, conversations and sports. However, creativity slowly fades over time, as a result of formal education and the need to confide to social norms. As a result, we become more cautious and more analytical. The corporate world then imposes its own way of thought, teaching you systems and procedures that can make you continue to think the same way.
The good news is, times are changing, and companies are now eyeing the growing importance of creative flair, sometimes choosing it over a person’s technical abilities. More and more companies are hiring based on a person’s creative flair, and educational institutions have implemented cells to help foster creativity and innovation.
So where do you start?
6 tips to revive your creative drive from the experts
- Keep a notepad next to your bed
The first few minutes after waking up, a stream of thought seeps through, and gears you towards forming a to-do list. Track your first few thoughts. Sometimes they may come to you after sleep cycles in the middle of the night, or cloud your mind, first thing in morning. As you start your day, the thoughts are long forgotten. Experts advise individuals to keep a notepad and pen next to their bed, to jot down notes, ideas or even dreams. Keep a notepad with you throughout the day as well, and write down anything that comes to mind (you might need it one day).
- Don’t self-edit
We are conditioned to analyze an idea before sharing it, tapping into every reason why it cannot be realized. This is due to constraints imposed by the corporate world, or out of fear or being called ‘crazy’. We keep trying to perfect our skills, to get better at what we do, and stick to what we know, to be safe and get things done. However, editing thoughts and censoring ‘crazy’ ideas, can kill creativity. Instead, jot them down or discuss them with an open-minded friend or colleague, and see what you can build on.
- Brainstorm, without an agenda
Gather a few friends or colleagues, and throw in an idea that creative solutions are needed for. Then allow for each person to speak, share crazy ideas (without passing judgment) and build on one another. Ask a junior member of the team to set the agenda or take charge of the meeting. Try to make the group as diverse as possible, to firstly have different viewpoints, but also to challenge one another to take each idea further.
- Break the routine
Typically, when trying to come up with ‘the next best thing’, a creative concept or an innovative solution, we resort to our comfort zone – whether it’s behind our desks or in our closed rooms. We have been programmed that the only way to get started with the creative process is through traditional norms, a blank piece of paper or a blinking cursor on our laptop screen. Instead of taking on an overwhelming challenge, focus on a small detail that you can tackle immediately, and work your way from there.
- Explore new places, sights and sounds
Take a break and try something new. If you frequent the same places, hang around the same people, and stick to the same hobbies, creativity has no way to seep through. Instead, go out and explore a new place, museum, town or sit in nature. Watch a new band play. Try out a new place. Go to the bookstore and pick up a bestseller, on a topic that you have always wanted to learn more about. All it takes it one word, thought or conversation, and the greatest idea of all time, could be sparked and born. Alternatively, figure out where you are most creative, and dub it your ‘creative space’. It could be somewhere quiet or a bustling café – understand in which context you work best.
- If it isn’t a good idea, let go
Fixating on the same idea, trying to ‘sell’ it, may be killing your creativity. Having confidence in your ideas is great, but also learning how to let go of ‘bad’ ideas, and accepting constructive criticism from others, can actually do you a lot of good. Present your idea to a small fresh group of minds, and actively listen to what they have to say. They may point you in a direction that you have chosen to ignore. Leverage on diversity and the difference in perspectives, to allow creativity to be channeled.
Now you’re equipped to explore the depths of your creativity. Find what works best for you to revive it or tap into it. The world’s most successful businesses were founded on a simple idea that was then strategized to greatness. Start somewhere.