There is something so funny to me about people who say, “I’m not creative.” Trust me, you’re creative. You don’t have a choice. It’s the way we were made. We’ve all got it in us, some of us are just more used to thinking of ourselves in that light than others.
Creativity has a lot of ways of showing up in our lives. In some ways, it’s obvious- “creative” often means we’re writing or drawing or, well, creating, of course. But most of all, it just means that we’re thinking. You don’t have to be an official artist to call yourself creative. Maybe your art is problem-solving or engineering or cooking or parenting. Regardless of what your world looks like, embracing your creativity will only make you better at doing whatever you do, I promise.
With that in mind, here are five things you can do to increase your natural creativity.
Wake up one hour earlier.
I know for some of you, your immediate response is, “Absolutely not.”
I know. I was like that, too.
I definitely don’t get up early every single day, but more often than not, I’m up early, because I know the value of quiet time in the mornings. If one hour sounds overwhelming, start by waking up fifteen minutes earlier, then thirty, and so on. That first morning, you will hate it. You will hate me. You will hate everything.
But keep going. I promise you- there is nothing like the quiet stillness you’ll find when you wake up early without the pressure to be doing anything at all for a little bit. Rather than starting your day in a hectic rush to get everything done on time, wake up slowly, sip your coffee, journal, and think. Look around. Notice things. Do not waste that hour on your phone. (Again, you can work your way up to that if it’s too hard. Start with ten phone-free minutes, then 20, and so on.)
Decrease Screen Time
Since we’re on the topic of phones, figure out ways to lessen the amount of time you spend on yours. Life is short. Don’t spend hours and hours mindlessly scrolling through whatever clickbait is in front of you at the moment. Facebook and Instagram algorithms are designed to make you keep scrolling. They do everything they can to make you spend more time staring at the screen. That’s how they make money.
Leave your phone upstairs when you go downstairs. Don’t allow phones during meal times. Don’t take your phone to the bathroom with you. Turn it on Do Not Disturb for set hours each day. (Did you know you can schedule that to happen automatically each day? You can also set it so that calls from certain people will come through even on Do Not Disturb mode, in case you’re worried about missing something truly important.)
“But Megan, what will I DO if I’m not on my phone?”
You’ll look up, you’ll look around, and your mind will wander. There’s a weird sort of untethered feeling that comes with separating yourself from your phone. I know this may be hard to believe, but boredom is GOOD for us. Not having an activity to fill every single minute is one of the best things you can do for you brain. Now, rather than looking to your phone to tell you what to think about, you’ll have to dig into your brain a little more. What’s that article you read? What’s that thing you heard about? And memories! Remember that thing you did with your friends last week? What’s that book someone mentioned?
Embrace the boredom, guys. It serves an important purpose.
First, know this- if the idea of reading anything is a big “nope” for you, that’s okay. You can read an article. It doesn’t have to be a book. Pick any topic that’s interesting to you. History. Current events. How something works. How something was invented. Biographies. Any nonfiction will do.
Why nonfiction? One, because if you’re not usually a reader, I think nonfiction will be an easier sell. I’m not asking you to get lost in a fictional world; I’m asking you to learn more about a topic you’re already interested in. Secondly, learning about true events has a way of opening you up to new ideas. Read about how other people have lived, or are living. Read about how they solved their problems. Read about the current problems that need to be solved. Nonfiction reminds us that the world is both very big and very small, depending on the situation at hand, and the average person is capable of so much more than s/he realizes.
Do Any Creative Activity
…as long as it doesn’t involve your phone. I don’t want you to be tempted to close one app and end up scrolling through another. I want your mind to be occupied with the steps it takes to create whatever you’ve decided to create.
A craft. A playlist. A simple drawing. Watercolor. A poem. A page. A meal plan. An event.
It can be SUPER beginner level. You don’t have to show it to anyone. Whatever you’re creating is not about the end result, it’s about the process of creating. The main point is you can only be focused on making whatever you’re making. This gives other parts of your brain a break, and this de-focused attention often results in creative breakthroughs when you’ve been stuck on something.
The hardcore grownups in the room are thinking, “I don’t have time to play, Megan.”
Hear me out.
Play looks different for everyone. For me, playing means wandering through thrift shops and antique shops. It’s one of my most favorite things to do, because it’s fun to imagine what I might find and to wonder about the stories behind the things that other people have discarded.
For you, maybe it’s taking a walk or doodling or daydreaming or lunch with friends or movie night with your family. Use whatever time you have. You can’t find ten minutes to play? The only goal is dedicating a set amount of time to something you enjoy for no other reason than the enjoyment of it. You’re not trying to impress anyone. You’re not accomplishing anything important. You’re having fun. That’s all. (Note: This is not selfish. You deserve to have fun, and the people in your life deserve to have a “you” that is refreshed and joyful.)
What do you think? Can you find ways to incorporate any or all of these into your life? You don’t have to do them all at once. Pick one and try it until it becomes second nature, and then add another. I know I’m asking a lot from some of you, but I’d argue that if you’re super resistant to the things on this list, you’re probably the one who needs them most.
Creativity is an incredibly valuable asset, and we’ve all got it. Some of us have had it squashed by any number of things, but it can always be recovered. You are worth the investment it takes to find yours.