“Get more creative or die.”
I saw this headline on an article recently. And though it takes an extreme approach, it makes a valid point: Creativity is not just a way to dress up your projects. It’s more than an elective practice.
Rather, creativity is a way to change the world. It fuels problem solving and pushes you to think outside the box — which is pretty darn important if you want a thriving web-writing business. Think about it. Writing for the Web is about catching attention. To do that, you have to push boundaries (i.e., get creative).
So to really dig deep into the depths of your creative brain, you’ve got to employ new ways to get inspired. Today, I want to share some of the wilder tactics to inflate creativity. Not only have these approaches been proven to work, they’re also fun, definitely unique, and pretty much guaranteed to knock your thoughts into new and unprecedented innovative-thinking territory.
Creativity Booster #1: Kill Your Thoughts. Every One of Them.
Most people think of meditation as a way to relax. I invite you to think of it as a way to wipe the slate clean (your mind being the slate).
If you’re not familiar with it, meditation involves sitting quietly and simply being present. It’s when you quiet the constant stream of chatter in your mind and focus on the sensation of breathing. It’s where you do your best to be present and aware.
In turn, meditation does many good things for your mind and body. It reduces your stress load and improves your focus. It even lowers your chances of a heart attack. Enhanced creativity is really just a side effect, but it’s a proven one. A study published a few years ago in Frontiers in Cognition showed meditation has long-lasting effects on how you think.
Part of this is because meditation calms your vulnerable fears by reducing activity in the amygdala, which is where your brain processes fear. It effectively silences your inner critic so your creative side has a safe space to dance around.
The funny thing about meditation is that it’s most effective when you completely empty your mind of all thought. To get started, set aside 10 to 15 minutes every day — preferably in the morning when your mind is rested — and find a quiet spot to sit. Breathe deeply. Focus entirely on each breath that flows in, and each breath that flows out. If your mind begins to wander, gently bring your focus back to your breath.
It gets easier the more you do it. And your thoughts get quieter. Try it for 10 days and see what kind of effect meditation has on your ability to think creatively.
Creativity Booster #2: Revisit Your Kid Days of Color
Remember how relaxing it used to be to sprawl on the floor with Crayons splayed around you, your attention focused on nothing but the coloring book in front of you?
No? Neither do I. It’s been far too long!
So it was fascinating to learn that adult coloring books are a thing now. A huge trend. Not just for kids anymore. In fact, adult coloring books have become mainstays at the top of Amazon’s bestseller list — and we’re talking a physical book here, not an e-book. Artist Johanna Basford’s black-and-white drawings in books like Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book made it all the way to the #2 slot on Amazon’s Top 100 — and it’s sold millions of copies!
Why are adult coloring books such a big deal? Partly because it’s a low-pressure way to be creative. As a writer, you may not love the ghostly stare of the blank page. But starting with a template or an outline makes it easier to get going, right?
Same goes for coloring books. If you don’t normally draw or paint, you might feel daunted by a blank sheet of canvas. So coloring books give you a low-stress entry point into creating massively pleasing art.
Plus, there’s something to the art of coloring mindlessly and finishing with a thing of beauty.
It’s also nice to create something with no expectation of the outcome. Something that is merely beautiful and satisfying. You get to enjoy the psychological benefit of zoning out, which puts you in a relaxed state and has an almost meditative effect on your mind, which — you guessed it — helps boost creativity.
Creativity Booster #3: Collect Eulogies (for Yourself)
This one sounds odd, but it’s effective.
Ask your close friends and family members to write a tribute about your life and abilities, just as they might should you meet an untimely departure from this world.
Read the tributes. Think about what they mean. Chances are, your dear ones see you as a much more capable, intelligent, and even creative person than you thought.
The whole point of doing this is to squash your self-limiting beliefs. Because as soon as you remove the barriers you have about your own abilities, your creativity will begin to flow.
Creativity Booster #4: Eat a Rainbow
We’re not talking Skittles here …
The more colorful your food is, the more likely you are to be nourishing your body with antioxidants. Antioxidants are good for brainpower. And better brainpower means better creativity.
Acai berries have the highest antioxidant content of any food according to research that appeared in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Other top sources for antioxidants include pomegranates, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and grapes.
And as long as you’re boosting your antioxidant intake, you may as well give up the things that counteract the benefits of healthy food. I’m talking about refined sugar, processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, and cigarettes.
Crazy as it sounds, it’s possible to give up something as ubiquitous as refined sugar, replace it with a daily snack of berries, and still enjoy life. I’ve lately begun experimenting with natural sweeteners like stevia, agave, and honey whenever I bake a pie. And you know what? Those pies still get eaten!
Improving your diet to improve your mind takes diligence, but if you stick with it, you’ll find you feel more energetic and at ease, making it easier to think creatively.
Creativity Booster #5: Do Something So Many Times You Suck Every Ounce of Creativity Out of it
I once read about a copywriter who always wrote 100 different versions of a headline before choosing a winner.
I tried this once myself. It was excruciating. By headline number 39, I felt like I’d sprinted across three miles of desert without water.
By headline number 63, I just about gave up, convinced there were no other possible versions of my headline left in the English language.
By headline number 87, I had a clear winner. A blockbuster winner. It’s since become a control-beating winner.
Sometimes, to really get creative, you’ve got to push yourself past the spot you thought was the finish line. And then go a mile past that, and then three miles beyond. Keep pushing, and you’ll be astounded with what happens as a result.
Creativity is Your #1 Web-Writing Survival Skill
Remember, as web writers, we depend on our creativity for our living. That means your most valuable piece of equipment is not your computer or phone. It’s your brain. And you can maintain this precious resource by trying the techniques listed above and steadily, aggressively, regularly improving your creative ability.