Some of us are born with that innate creative ability. You know the type. The Mozarts: the artistic prodigies of the world who spew beauty like founts of never-ending creative genius. From the time they pop out, with almost no training, they seem to take to singing, dancing, painting and sculpting like a fish takes to water. They live it. They breathe it. And what hope do you, the naturally uncreative, have to compete in that arena? Perhaps you are an expert mathematician or a business wiz, but when it comes to writing poetry, singing an aria, or writing snappy, creative advertising language, you simply can’t do it and you’ll never be able to!
It’s science. Right? Some people’s brains are wired for creativity and some people’s brains are not. Left brain, right brain. Something like that, yeah?
The problem with the above accepted narrative is there is absolutely zero scientific evidence to back it up. In fact, quite the opposite.
“There’s not really any evidence that one person is inherently more creative than another,” That’s according to Robert Epstein, PhD, of the University of California, San Diego.
So why does it seem that way?
The reason, says Epstein, is practice.
*GASP* WHAT!? YOU MEAN PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT!?
Indeed the old adage again proves to be true.
“As strange as it sounds, creativity can become a habit,” says researcher Jonathan Plucker, PhD, a psychology professor at Indiana University. “Making it one helps you become more productive.” Plucker is one of the world’s preeminent experts on intelligence and creativity.
Okay, so practice is the answer, but how exactly does one practice creativity? In the context of this article, how does one practice creative writing? We’ve all sat down at the computer to write, staring at the judgmental blank white screen as it stares back at us, seeming to say, “come on dummy can’t you think of anything, what are you STUPID!?”
So what can you do, other than punching your computer screen, to break through the writers block? Below are a few science-approved ways to beat the block and boost your brain’s ability to pump out some truly creative copy!
Just Chill Bro.
Chill out dude! Stress is the enemy of creativity. Our bodies are wired to go with what we know when we go into fight or flight mode. When our defenses are up, our minds are risk-averse, which means we are less likely to come up with unique or novel ideas. So when you need to get creative, get relaxed! Get a massage, listen to some chill music, take a slow walk, drink some herbal tea, play with your dog. Do whatever it is that helps you chill out. Your brain, and your project, will thank you!
Just Start Writing
Just start writing. We know it’s hard, but sometimes you have to start pecking away at the keyboard even if you just type BLAH BLAH BLAH for little while. Before you play sports, you have to warm up your muscles. you have to warm your brain up and get it into writing mode. Just start putting words on the page even if they are unrelated to your project. Just. start. writing. Eventually your brain will kick into 1st gear, then 2nd, then 3rd – you’ll be cruising in no time!
Take a hike. No seriously, take a hike! Research by Washington State University professor of interior design Janetta Mitchell McCoy, PhD, suggested that settings with natural sunlight and vegetation are more conducive to creative thought. In a 2002 Creativity Research Journal (Vol. 14, No. 3.4) study led by McCoy, high school students designed more innovative collages—as judged by six independent raters—in a setting high in direct sunlight and natural wood than in a space mainly finished with manufactured materials such as drywall and plastic. At very least, try opening the drapes and putting more plants in your office!
Spice up your life!
Well, at least spice up your surroundings. So we’ve already mentioned that keeping some plants in your office may help keep the creative juices flowing. But Robert Epstein also recommends having interesting, weird, wild and wacky items or art pieces around as well. Anything that stimulates new ways of thinking could be beneficial. Here’s a list of a few things we keep in our office: Play-Doh, a head massager, plants plants and more plants, bouncy balls, stress balls, juggling balls, basketball hoop, stick-on googly eyes (which we put on everything), and numerous odd art pieces – and that’s just the beginning!
Sleep on it.
In a 1993 study at Harvard Medical School, psychologist Deidre Barrett, PhD, asked her students to imagine a problem they were trying to solve before going to sleep and found that they were able to come up with novel solutions in their dreams. In the study, published in Dreaming (Vol. 3, No. 2), half of the participants reported having dreams that addressed their chosen problems, and a quarter came up with solutions in their dreams. When all else fails – nap it out
You can do it!
There are plenty of other great tips out there on the internet for spurring on your own inner creative genius. The important thing to remember is that you CAN do it. Don’t give in to the idea that when it comes to creativity there are haves and have nots – it’s just not true! All it takes is a little determination and practice.