“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
― Maya Angelou
One of my favourite forms of procrastination is to spend time reading about creativity, and how writers keep their creative juices flowing. Here are a few ideas I’ve picked up.
1.) Every night read:
– one poem
– one short story
– one essay
This came up on one of Tim Ferris’ newsletters. He was sharing the wisdom from Ray Bradbury’s 2001 keynote speech “Telling the Truth” .
“What you’ve got to do from this day forward is stuff your head with different things from various fields.. Archeology, Biology, Politics, Zoology, read Shakespeare poetry, Alexander Pope..read all the greats..read essays in every field..At the end of 1000 nights, you’ll be full of ideas and metaphors, along with your own perceptions of life and your own personal experiences which you’ve put away. You’ll be well on your way to being more creative” – Ray Bradbury
2.) Read publications you might not normally.
Gretchen Rubin mentions this in her book “The Happiness Project”. In her chapter ‘Be Serious about Play’, her resolution to ‘Go Off the Path leads her to regularly purchase three new magazines that she’d never read before. ( An equine magazine, one Christian publication and a gourmet food issue. )
“I always found something useful, provocative, or amusing. It was a painless (though slightly pricey) way to get new and unexpected ideas into my brain.”
3.) Become an ideas factory: Make daily ideas lists
Entrepreneur James Altucher encourages creatives to practice writing down ten ideas a day around one topic. They could be “ten business ideas”, “ten things you wish you knew before becoming a parent”, “ten ideas for a board game” . The topic could be anything. The point is to make a habit of getting your creativity muscle working.
“They won’t all be good ideas, I won’t have 3650 good ideas a year, but I try and make sure they’re as good as they could possibly be.” – James Altucher
4.) Journal. Journal. Journal.
I could not endorse journalling enough. A good brain dump sets me up for the day, or helps me wind down at night. It also helps clear the way for creativity.
Many writers swear by journalling. Julia Cameron writes about her devotion to Morning Pages in The Artist’s Way.
Amie McNee who runs the brilliant inspiredtowrite Instagram account runs journalling courses. I did a ‘Journalling for Creative Writers’ workshop with writer Fiona Thomas who offered various helpful journalling prompts:
“If I wrote a book it would be about…”
“If I knew I couldn’t fail I would write..”
“There is a distinct lack of conversation around..”
These are all around writing, but your prompts could focus on absolutely anything that’s helpful to you. Often thoughts and ideas come up unexpectedly within our journalling, that might be relevant to a creative project we’re working on. If I’m feeling anxious, I love a bit of straight-up stream of consciousness journalling.
5.) Get outside.
It sounds a little obvious, but leave the house. Go for a walk, immerse yourself in nature, take a route you haven’t before, be mindful of your surroundings. The motion of walking, together with the change in environment, can help shift your mind into a more creative space. If not, at least you’ve had some exercise.