“When we engage in what we are naturally suited to do, our work takes on the quality of play and it is play that stimulates creativity. So play with your intuition.” -Linda Naiman
Every day, writers sit in front of blank computer screens. Painters gaze onto blank canvases. Composers stare at sheets of blank staff paper. Blank describes their current creative output. This momentary block of creative energy paralyzes any meaningful connection with their craft. While writers, painters, and composers have learned the skills to recharge their creative juices, the average senior adult has not. Use the following 10 ways to unlock creativity and awaken the imagination:
1. Take a break.
Give yourself a chance to regroup. That pause before returning to task can re-charge energy and imagination. Speaking of energy, physical exhaustion can cause one’s creative juices to plummet. A simple solution: drink a glass of water. A mere two per cent drop in the body's water supply can trigger signs of dehydration. Mild dehydration is also one of the most common causes of daytime fatigue. Return to creative endeavours refreshed and hydrated. If creativity remains stifled, take a longer break and do one or more of the following nine.
2. Listen to music.
Let your favourite tunes awaken your creativity. Whether it’s George Beverly Shea, Bach, Glen Miller or Ethel Waters, revisit and draw inspiration from the sights, sounds, and awakened emotions.
3. Escape the familiar.
The more you grapple with charting unfamiliar territory, the greater your chance to happen upon the next creative adventure. Experience a new culture, write fiction instead of non-fiction, paint a landscape instead of still life, build a hope chest instead of a birdhouse, or study a new instrument.Don’t aim for perfection. Use your fumbling attempt at something new to draw insight, inspiration and stimulation to return to what you know - incorporating fresh concepts and ideas to your creative re-adventure.
4. Think of the possibilities.
Ask questions and the solutions may have a touch of originality. Using “what if” questions opens floodgates of untried ideas. Any idea never tried is inherently creative.Brainstorming and word maps allow for you to group ideas and new ways to approach a subject.
5. Talk with creative people.
Start with writers, artists and musicians. Ask what they do to drive their creativity. How do their relationships with others impact their inventiveness?Make a list of their best ways to confront writer’s, painter’s, or whatever “block” has stifled their spontaneous originality. Make a commitment to try each until one works for you.
6. Develop curiosity.
Curiosity is one step from creative genius. Develop a healthy sense of asking why. Why do we do what we do? Why do certain things work the way they do? Throw in some “how” questions. How can some things be done better? How is one idea superior to another? Understanding people, things and processes stores new information that can be quickly applied. Curiosity makes that possible.
7. Visualize opposites.
Somewhere in the middle of visualizing opposites may be a new way, idea, or solution, so try it. If something seems mundane, look to the opposite – “exotic.” If what you are doing now seems uninteresting, could it be made interesting with a little tweaking? That becomes your new creative moment. Even the opposite can furnish that spur of creativity you’re missing.
8. Isolate what you do as mundane.
Play at the commonplace to make it fun. In the process, you will find ways to turn imagination on its head. If your hobby has become routine, play at it. Take cooking, for instance. Instead of shrinking your imaginative space with precise recipes, measurements, and sameness, improvise and make up your own rules - just as a child would if they were in the kitchen and asked to play.The result of your “play-time” may not be the best recipe on the planet, but you will have a blast at it, leaving you with ideas that work or don’t work, knowledge of new taste, and a wealth of thoughts to try later.
9. Test the obvious.
New solutions beyond what’s always been done are usually something creative. Make a list of things you consistently do the same way. Outside each, write other ways the chore or habit can be done differently. Most chores and habits require little imagination or creativity. Your new list can add a spark of excitement and anticipation.
10. Yield work to become play.
Let work become play as long as it spurs your intuition. I have found my writing becomes more creative when I’m relaxed, free of time pressures and precise writing expectations, and unhinged from feeling like work. In effect, the more I play at writing, the more my words flow from mind to printed page.
The next time you face a “blank page” in your creative pursuits, try any one or more of these 10 ways to unlock fresh approaches to originality. Doing so assures a new creative you.
MARCH 2011 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE VANCOUVER ISLAN
MARCH 2011 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE VANCOUVER & LOWER MAINLAND