“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something” — Steve Jobs
There was a time, when I first wanted to become a writer — roughly aged twelve — that ideas would just hit me. Crazy stories, impossible characters, plot twists.
Whether I was in a literature lesson or in the shower — BAM — ideas would land on my lap.
I remember writing in my literature class, and my teacher coming around to see me scribbling, or reading a novel, and she would look at me.
Instead of pointing it out, she would ask me a question about the topic she was covering — usually something we had to study for at home. Sure enough, I knew the answer. Yes, I am a book nerd. Sue me.
Fast-forwarding to when I first opened a blog, it was an anonymous account of my life with anxiety and depression.
I was equally prolific — also because that probably was my first cyber version of a personal diary.
I moved into music writing, and I landed a few big gigs thanks to “When the Music is Over” (spot the reference). I moved once again to tech and business with “Diary of a Witty Chick” and “the Passion Junkie.”
Yes, I know. I liked to change names.
I think it was with the Witty Chick that I turned my writing into my business. This is when, all of a sudden, the muse dried out. Big time. Oh muse, what’s the matter? I would wonder.
What happened to me?
Well, my passion became a weekly appointment. A marketing showcase of my services.
Since my company became my main gig I took a long break. Along with the HBC not requiring me to promote my freelance gig as it was standing by itself pretty solidly. I had this hot potato sitting there, and no idea of what to do with it really.
Slowly the creativity came back, and words started to flow.
At times surrounded by GIFs — but nobody is perfect, hey. With a much sharper awareness coming in I realised when I felt at my best writing. This is for all writers who feel stuck — or feel like their muse has gone on unlimited maternity leave.
- Have a nap — at the time I am writing this article, I had a nap on our couch. Whilst resting and recharging, a few ideas came by (including a new short story dangling around).
- Keep a diary — Like you used to do in the 90s. Now we call them “journals” and we Instagram them with our smoothies. Still, I use 10/20 minutes just to journal ideas out. My fears, my thoughts, my achievements. Most times I come up with a great issue I want to tackle on the magazine.
- Have a RSS feed — I love to collect a few publications I really enjoy the style of and read what they are facing or covering. As a highly opinionated bunny, I am likely to say saying on some topics. Especially when it comes to entrepreneurship or health trends. I always thought creativity was about coming up with original ideas, but it turns out creativity is really just about making new connections between existing ideas.
- Get out in nature — away from your desk. Bedroom. Couch. Make writing a sacred time for you. If that was not enough, colours affect your performance too — geek time alert. Apparently a brief glimpse of green can improve your creative performance! Another study actually shows that seeing red or blue can have different effects on our cognitive performance: red helps us with detail-oriented tasks where we need to focus, whereas blue enhances creative performance.
- Ask a simple question — ask your readers/followers: what are you struggling with at the moment? That is a damn good question that inspires great conversations.
- Read the news — I have the Guardian app handy too, of course, check the latest news in the world, but also because some of their opinion articles are absolutely brilliant. Most times because I do not agree with them. Again, opinionated Fab gets heated up.
- Watch a documentary / Ted talk — educational content has its pros and cons (I do believe fiction is good for the soul). Still, if you are passionate about a topic
- Bring in the noise — I know, I know it sounds highly counterproductive — however, noise could actually help with focus and productivity (and it’s not just me saying it). Handy websites like Coffivity can help you getting the Dalston coffee shop vibe without spending £7 for sourdough bread and mashed avocado. Apparently, silence helps us to sharpen our focus, so it’s useful for intense problem-solving or detail-oriented tasks. Creative thinking, on the other hand, requires the kind of ambient buzz of sound that you might find in a café to promote broader thinking and new ideas.
How to make the most of your creativity
“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.”– Jack London
As a linguist, a Virgo and overall a hyperactive kid I am a sucker for learning: and what a better way than binge-reading tons of blogs and articles?
Ahem — that’s research, right?
However, I have been doomed with the curse of really poor memory — yes, I have been nicknamed Doris more than once. I love to bookmark articles for upcoming courses, or articles.
Sometimes a scribble down won’t cut it: I need the full shenanigans handy in order to create my masterpieces. When people ask me about my favourite tool to save, bookmark and catalog my favourite articles, I always go back to the Pocket app.
When creativity is still running low, yet I found loads of interesting inspiration in the online world, these are two things I like to do:
Create a roundup article
Let’s say you read your favourite articles every other night, and you end up with a list of inspiration (and kitten memes). This time is perfect for link-roundups. You can create a handy tag for your favourite articles, simply collect them every week and wrap them up with a ribbon.
When stuck in a rut I love to create roundups of previous articles, just like this one.
Collect research for an ebook or course
Let’s say you are writing your new, sparkly book (or an ebook). Use an app like Pocket and collect all the research on a given topic. You can organise with tags and search for keywords and even favourite for quick access. Great tool for our courses as well.
All in all, cherish your creativity
“Creativity doesn’t wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones.” — Bruce Garrabrandt
Once I stopped waiting for my muse and started creating meaningful habits to foster my creativity everything changed.
Take time to find what works best to reignite the creative spark, and make it a priority, just as much as you prioritise the time you dedicate to your writing.