Want a fast way to get creative? Stop thinking! Most of what we call “thinking” is simply labeling. We’re repeating old tapes in our head. This type of thinking is not creative, and there’s no way to access our true creativity from this mindset.
Like most adults, you probably lost the skill of dropping into a creative mindset at around eight years old. It’s time to reclaim this skill. Here’s how to access your innate creativity.
When you want to become creative, your first step is slow down. Relax. Play some calming music, or simply close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and daydream for a few minutes.
Don’t try to rush this initial slowing down. You’re aiming to drop out of the world of your usual concerns. Fantasize. Imagine you’re living on tropical island, where your every wish is catered for. Make this daydreaming scenario as real as you can. Hear the waves, let the sand sift through your fingers, and feel the warmth of the sun on your skin.
While you’re daydreaming, beware of ruminating about your everyday problems and concerns. If you find yourself worrying about your job, finances or relationships, switch back to fun- fantasy mode. Take a couple of deep breaths, close your eyes, and build up your tropical island (or other) fantasy in your mind once again.
If you feel guilty because you think you’re wasting time when you take a few minutes to daydream, your own experience will show you that you’re NOT wasting time when you daydream, you’re increasing your productivity. Our rush-rush lifestyle chokes off creativity. Only relaxation will allow your creativity to bubble up and will get you into a true creative state. (Note: such a state is also called a “peak experience” or “flow state”.)
When you feel completely peaceful and relaxed, you can start working at your creative task. Do some brainstorming.
One of the cardinal rules of brainstorming is — ACCEPT ANYTHING, DON’T JUDGE.
This is because you can do things with your ideas once they’re on paper or the computer screen. You can reverse them, combine them with three other ideas, and grow further ideas from the seed of one idea.
Unless you accept junk ideas, you can’t make the creative leap which gives you a brilliant idea. So never discard anything when you brainstorm.
Try brainstorming in different locations to see whether it makes it easier to come up with ideas. I love my little Palm PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) because I can write anywhere — in a supermarket checkout line, when I go for a walk, in the library.
Often, when you try to brainstorm in the place you associate with “serious” work, like your office, it’s hard to stay in a creative mood.
So try brainstorming in bed, in the living room, in the mall — anywhere you happen to be.
Create personal symbols, and manipulate them
One of the secrets of creativity is the use of symbols. This is because our right brain thinks in images. Our right brain isn’t verbal, language is a function of our left brain. If you remember to use symbols while you’re working at a creative task, you’ll be using both sides of your brain.
How does this work?
Let’s say that you have a ferocious inner editor. Whenever you try to work at a creative task, your editor pops up and tells you you’re doing it wrong, your work isn’t any good, you’re wasting time, you don’t know enough, and on and on.
Close your eyes for a moment and allow an image to form of your inner editor. Mine looks like a buzzing mosquito. Yours may look like your mother, a high school teacher, or a yapping small dog.
Whatever your inner editor looks like, it’s time to shut it up. You can do this by locking your editor in a room or a box (throw away the key), asking it to pack its bags and leave, by spraying it with bug spray, or by whatever inventive scenario you develop. Unfortunately, you aren’t destroying your editor for good. It will pop up again, and you’ll need to go through the process again. However, it does get rid of the editor long enough for you to complete your creative task in freedom.
You can develop a symbol for anything. One of the most useful is for your current creative task. Let’s say you’re writing a book. Close your eyes, and allow a symbol to come to you. Maybe it’s a paperback or hardback, with the title and your name as the author on the cover. Whatever symbol pops up, accept it, even if it makes no sense. For example, your symbol might be an ice cube, a fire engine, or a Disney character. You can work with whatever symbol comes to you.
You work with the symbol in whatever way you please. You can dialogue with the symbol, for example. Ask it questions, and write down the answers. If you’ve ever done any dream work, this is a similar process.
It’s often enough to simply be aware of the symbol, to imagine it. The symbol is part of your creative right brain, and being aware of it triggers your right brain into action. You’ll find that the symbol is especially useful if you’re not in the mood to work on your creative task. Just play some music, bring your symbol to mind, and daydream. You’ll find that your mood changes, and you begin to work without effort.
Think of your symbol as a key to your creative self.
Allow yourself to be creative
Finally, it’s important to acknowledge to yourself that you can’t force creativity. You can only allow it. Daydreaming, brainstorming, and the creation of symbols are all ways of giving yourself permission to be creative.
If you use affirmations, try this: “I allow myself to be creative”. Relax, and allow your creativity to bubble up.
Try the above processes whenever you want to be creative. They’re easy, and they work. Remember to switch off your thinking mind, and you’ll be as effortlessly creative, and as happy, as a small child making mud pies or building sandcastles.
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