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Be More Creative

Pick a Tone or Theme.

Sometimes creativity gets bogged down in the details and the specifics. Don’t mistake the forest for the trees, here. Back up, take a deep breath, and ask yourself, “Self, what is the overall theme, message or tone?” By having a big picture to fall back on, you may find you’ve opened up new creative avenues.

Look at the Pretty Colors.

Sometimes just picking out colors that would work together can give you a whole new perspective on your creative project. Maybe you hadn’t seen things in this light before. Who knows. Try different color combinations or play around with the Adobe Kuler to see if you spark any new ideas. You can also check out some art or even just browse the web for things like DeviantArt. Try telling a story about an interesting photo you’ve seen. Don’t know the story? Make it up. That’s half the fun.

Look at Different Fonts.

Seriously. Type in a sentence or the title of your project, and see what it looks like in new fonts. There are loads of free font websites and databases out there, and some of them even let you type in your own text. Try 1001 Free Fonts, Font Squirrel, or DaFont, to name a few. Stumbling around on them and randomly clicking helps you imagine your project as if it were in that font… and maybe you’ll just find something you hadn’t thought of before.

Clean Something.

Mindless tasks are excellent for idea generation, and organization is often soothing. Besides, you don’t want to clean while you’re in the throes of a creative epiphany, do you? Best get it done now.

Go for a Drive.

Driving around and listening to music (or listening to silence) is a great way to clear the mind. It’s also a bit hypnotic, and this hypnosis helps you wiggle creative problems around in your mind like a loose tooth that you’re wiggling with your tongue. Eventually something’s going to break. Just don’t talk on the phone while driving. It’s distracting. To other drivers.

Get Mad.

You know all those things you really want to tell that awful client? You know those times when you just want to say “really guys, this is the truth that you don’t want to hear”, or write a searing email to your boss? Write them down. Let it out. Many of us have created mental blocks to saying exactly what we mean because, well, we don’t want people to think we’re psychopaths. Break those barriers and say exactly what you mean. It’ll feel good, and often you’ll discover (somewhere) a new way to approach your problem. Just by being honest.

Then destroy the evidence. Make sure not to actually send that email. In fact don’t even put an address in the ‘receiver’ line. Just be safe.

Spend Some Time Alone.

Whether you’re walking in the woods or standing on the roof of a skyscraper, alone time is creativity’s favorite place to grow. I’m sure there’s a psychological or neurological reason for this, but I don’t know what it is. I just know that other people and electronic gadgets are not only distracting, they actually cause anxiety. Turn your phone off. Kill the news channel. Mentally get away from it all. It’s actually pretty well accepted that people who spend more time by themselves thinking tend to be more creative (and, actually, more mentally fit). I’m not talking about locking yourself in your mom’s basement for a year, but a ten-minute walk to relax shouldn’t be a huge imposition.

Teach Someone What You’re Doing.

I don’t mean step-by-step, but the process of articulating your creative problem to another person is incredibly helpful when searching for new approaches to an old problem. This is particularly helpful if you’re trying to explain things to a child (or a dumb friend), because you’re forced to come up with a much more accessible way to articulate your idea.

Believe it or not, even complaining about the problem helps you work it out. Just don’t complain to me.

Draw or Build Something

Actually, doing anything repetitive that requires intense concentration would work. The trick here is to let your mind go numb. It’s actually related in some ways to self-hypnosis. It lets your mind wander. And the theme of this post is to let your mind wander. Doing something repetitive or mindless is often nice because it allows you to start talking to yourself with your ‘mind voice’. Just don’t answer the voice out loud, and you’re good.