Creativity is a strange, elusive creature. Sometimes is flowing like a river. Sometimes it's all dried up and nowhere to be found.
Here are some thoughts and ideas that I like and have found useful to spark or improve my own creativity.
Most of them are pretty obvious, like so much advice, but I have found that if I actually use them they can be quite helpful.
Also, I find it useful to – as much as possible – have a notepad and a pen around to quickly jot down the new ideas before they disappear.
1. Generate a boatload of ideas.
If you haven't had any it may because you haven't had enough ideas yet.
2. Take a trip outside your personal bubble.
If you just have the same input every day it may be hard to come up with many new ideas.
Take some input from outside own your little bubble. Meet new people, read book about something you don't anything about, take up a new hobby, listen to music you normally never listen to. Do something different and get some new input into your mind. This can set off a creative spark and generate fresh ideas you hadn't thought about before.
3. Get rid of all the distractions.
Shut of your phone. Close the door. Close your IM-programs. As best you can create a space where you can be creative and focus without having disturbances or having to worry about them.
Consider decluttering this space so your mind don't have to focus on unnecessary things. And decorating the space in a way that makes you feel relaxed, centred or however you want to feel to improve your creativity. You may also want to experiment with music and silence. I have found that music sometimes boosts my creativity – wordless music seems to work best – but that more often silence is the way to go for me.
4. Criticize later.
Or some part of your mind may feel threatened and shut up and withdraw. Just let ideas flow out, don't try to censor yourself or worry about how silly the ideas may be. It's important to keep an atmosphere of openness when trying to generate ideas and being creative, either if you do it alone or in a group at work/in school. You can sort the ideas later and determine which ones may be of best use.
5. See yourself as a creative person.
Everyone is creative. Not everyone think they are. If you do not see yourself as a creative person this can seriously limit your creativity, stop the flow of ideas and make you not believe in the ideas that do surface. Even though the ideas might be good or just what you need.
Allow yourself to be a creative person. And think back to instances when you were creative and let those memories be proof that you really are a creative person. Don't focus on the memories of when you had troubles being creative.
6. Build it.
Like so many things in life creativity is bit like lifting weights (or doing your sport/exercise/game of choice). You can't go into the gym and lift the heavy weights when you're there for the first time. You have to start with smaller ones. Then consistently and progressively work your way up. Over time you'll, if you train and work at it, build your creative muscles.
7. Sleep less.
Here's something that works pretty good for me once in a while. When I feel a little groggy and sleepy because I've slept too few hours it's like words start flowing out of my fingers when I sit down to write.
I think it's because when you're a bit groggily tired you don't think too much. Your mind doesn't have the energy to criticize and halt your creative outflow. It's like more doors than usual are open in the corridors of your brain and thoughts can run around more freely.
However, what is poured out when you're in this state isn't always pure gold. So you may want to go back and edit on a day when you are more well-rested to cut down and rewrite the sometimes nonsensical ramblings of your sleep-deprived mind.
8. Relax and play.
This is very useful and a great use of your time. Go out and do something with your friends or family and just relax and have a lot of fun. Doing this for a day or an evening can recharge not only your creativity but also your motivation and general sense of well-being for days or weeks to come. Working non-stop and never playing will not.