We can all fall victim to the a serious drain on our creativity. It seems as though nothing we think or do is original and our imagination is severely lacking. Well NEVER FEAR, here are a couple of prescriptions for unleashing a chained creative beast.
1. Break up…….. the routine
One of the biggest hindrances to imaginative creative in modern adults is the boredom of routine. Following the same exact itinerary for your day may be a necessity for the worker bees among us, but for the budding Shakespeares and Morrisons, a routine can begin to feel like a pair of cold steel handcuffs, blocking your ability to create. I recently read about a phenomenon (and like most of these phenomena, right after some one tells me what it is I realized that I experience it often) in which drivers who take the same route to work everyday begin to forget the drive to work altogether. Our brains become so hardwired into “turn left, go down three lights, turn right” that they go into autopilot, taking us to where we need to be without wasting focus and energy on deciphering new, untapped paths. At face, this sounds like it would be great for creativity. I don’t have to think about turns and street names, so I should have more time to think about mystical dragons and galactic wars. Notice how I described the phenomenon:
“…drivers who take the same route to work everyday begin to forget the drive to work altogether.”
As we chisel this routine onto our brains, our brains begin to tune out entirely. Yes, they make the proper adjustments to keep us from wrecking our cars on the way, but so much other information is simply tossed out because our brains deem it unimportant. I believe the same thing happens when we allow our lives to become stuck in routine. Our brains begin to go on a subtle form of autopilot. We process the everyday things that happen in our life as though they are just a part of the same old route, barely giving thought to the slight differences around us: the woman dropping her work documents as she runs to the bus stop or the new bus bench ad for the quirky-looking family attorney. Each detail you miss is a lost inspiration for your creative mind. So the easiest tip here would be to change up your route to work, but I want to go deeper. Change up your route through life!
2. Go to a sensually explosive place
Take your mind from the gutter for one second as I explain what I mean. As a corollary statement, a routine leads to boredom. Why? Routine does not allow for the new and unpredictable unless you’re routinely changing up your routine, which can still lead to a routine of routine routine changes which can probably become boring as well. My point is that being bored dulls the senses. You become numb to what is around you because you have felt, seem, smelled, tasted, and heard it all before. It is sensually inert. One of the most exciting ways to jump start your creativity is to take a trip to a place with a wide variety of new, unexplored sensual adventures. Where should you go? I couldn’t tell you because this all depends on what your baseline sensual experience is. If you work in a windowless office 8 hours a day before driving home to take an early nap before waking up to get ready for bed, then going to a local park may be enough for you. However, if your baseline sensual experience is traveling to various restaurants and tasting different foods, then you may need to set your sensually explosive bar a bit higher. The easiest way to ensure that you are providing your sense with the opportunity to be invigorated is to imagine the exact opposite of your daily routine. If you spend a great deal of time in the dark or under artificial light, find something to do in the brightest setting you can. If you are typically doing a lot of dense, long reading, find something to do that involves short, quick blasts of information like a poetry lounge or short film screening.
When you allow your sense to be revived from the dull existence that they have become a slave to, you give them the opportunity to drive your imagination to new heights. How could you possibly write that “the strange earthy aftertaste of the frigid ocean water was nothing like her childhood memories of the warm table salt-laced water that her mother would prepare to sooth her tooth aches” if you’ve never tasted ocean salt water? Creative writing is about birthing and nurturing a sensual world for your reader. The best writers have a large repository of senses to draw upon (or legendary imagination).
3. Read obscure and foreign history and literature
Many of my cleverest homages, analogies, and inspirations come from a simple reading of things that real humans once did. Take a look at many of the greatest creative franchises and you will see vestiges of old historical realities. Star Wars, quite possibly the most popular movie franchise of all time, draws heavily from European, Eastern, and Near Eastern lore and history. George Lucas masterfully adapted it to a “galaxy far far away” and captivated audiences for the last 40 years.
Current events and local happenings are much too fresh and close to reliably inspire new ideas. We are inherently too familiar with them, meaning our minds will tend to simply copy the story or at least view our own work as too much of a copy. The beauty of using ancient texts and the tales of old is that our brains often have gaps in understanding them and when we allow our imagination to fill those gaps, we get a whole new story with just the skeleton of the past.
Read religious texts, mythologies, and historical wikis. If you hear about something, Google it and learn about it. This not only makes you a more knowledgeable world citizen, but it may also inspire your next creative venture.
4. Talk to experts in wildly different fields
Often times, we get so caught up in searching for like minds with whom to share our thoughts. We think that other creative writers with my subject interests will be able to provide me with creative ideas that are right up my alley. The only problem is your alley is getting more and more boring with every word you write. Your alley is becoming so YOU that no one can stand to read it because they feel no connection to it. This is why it is beneficial to speak to intelligent folks from a variety of backgrounds. The conversations don’t even have to revolve around your writing. Just talk to them about what they know. Ask questions. Absorb information. You may be interested in writing futuristic science fiction inspired by Sub-Saharan African mythology, but how are you going to write about the evil galactic warlord’s manipulation of the Republic’s economy if you know nothing of basic economic theory.
A wider breadth in knowledge allows your work to dive deeper and take on a more realistic and detailed vision. In addition to this benefit, there is also the fact that people from different disciplines often think very differently. A random creative epiphany by your medical student friend could vastly improve your story in ways that you could have never imagined.
5. Delay your critiques until you’ve truly flushed out an idea
Stop telling yourself it’s a stupid idea until you can actually explain exactly why it’s a stupid idea. Too many great ideas get thrown out simply because they don’t make sense on the surface. Things that don’t make sense on the surface usually make for great plot twists in stories or attractive ways to keep your audience engaged.
I hope these help invigorate your creative spirit and get those mental juices flowing. There’s nothing like creating something that works and a big of doing that is being able to influence your own mental state. Following these prescriptions can help you do just that.