7 Easy (And Fun!) Exercises to Boost Your Creativity

7 Easy (And Fun!) Exercises to Boost Your Creativity

NOTE: This is Collective Inkwell’s first guest post, written by Sherice Jacob of ielectrify.

istock_000004082956xsmall-320x310Are you stuck wondering how you can even think OUTSIDE the box when you’re stuck IN the box?  Whether you’re tackling a difficult problem or are suffering from complete burnout, these seven creative exercises are guaranteed to spark your creativity and give you a lot more brain with a lot less storm!

1. Doodle! Did you know that our random, seemingly “mindless” doodles actually reflect what our subconscious mind is thinking about?  Doodling is a great way to get in touch with that innovative side of your brain, so grab a pen and paper and go for it.  It doesn’t matter if you can’t draw a stick-man, no one is judging your artistic creativity here.  Mull your problem over in your mind and start sketching out what comes to mind.  You might be facing a blank page at first, but eventually ideas will start to flow more readily.

If it helps, you can also discuss your problem with a friend or colleague and doodle while you talk about it.  Do this exercise with someone who isn’t in your immediate brainstorming circle – who possibly has never heard of the issue you’re trying to address.  Sometimes two heads are better than one – and you may find an innovative solution you never would’ve uncovered!

2. Write it Down – This is my personal favorite and the one I use constantly.  Just like with a diary, sometimes it really does help to get it all out and “on paper” (or screen).  Start writing about your problem.  Write how it makes you feel, how you hate being stuck, what you wish you’d rather be doing.

Don’t stop to analyze or edit your writing – just write!  After a few minutes of venting, you’ll not only feel better, but real ideas will start to stick their heads out as you clear out all the stress and mental clutter that’s been jamming up your creative pipes.

3. Ask the Dictionary – This is a sure-fire idea generator.  Open up a dictionary and choose a random word.  Now think of new ideas around that word.  What images come to mind when you think about the word?  For the purpose of this article, I tried this myself and the word I ended up on was “chemical”.  What comes to mind?  Harmony (or explosions), interactions, science, beakers, teamwork.  Try it yourself!

4. Candy + Classical Music – I once had a math teacher who swore this worked, and, being “mathematically challenged” myself, I can say that I really did do better on tests when she used this method on the class.  Pop a piece of hard candy and turn on some Bach or Mozart.  That burst of sugar goes right to your brain as “quick energy”  (but don’t overdo it or it will go straight to your thighs!) and there are countless studies attesting to the positive results of classical music.  Put the two together and see what happens!  Try this with point #1 or #2 above!

5. Mix Up Your Routine – Let’s be honest.  How many times have you gotten up and gotten ready for work and actually stopped to THINK about what you were doing that very minute?  Even something as routine as making a cup of coffee seems so “automatic” these days.

To help bust out of your rut, try something different every day – or even several times a day to get the full effect.  Drive a different route to or from work, brush your teeth with your other hand, buy a random magazine from your local bookstore on a topic you know nothing about and read it.  You’d be surprised at how this can “reset” your brain and give you more interesting points of view you might not have considered before!

6. Explore Your Senses – Sometimes we’re so burnt out by a problem, we forget that we’re concentrating too hard on it.  To help loosen up your creative muscles, take time out to do something small for yourself, but instead of just “going through the motions” of it, explore it with all your senses.  Take time to enjoy the touch and smell of something you’re eating, for example.  If you’re doing point #6 above, take in everything about the new part of your routine.  Is there something you enjoy more or less about it?  Why?

7. Watch Other People – Go to a busy area such as a mall and watch people. Consider what they might be thinking about and make up a life story for them.  What would you do if you were in their shoes right now?  You may discover that your “big” problem was actually rather trivial compared to what someone else is going through – which gives you a renewed boost of energy to tackle it again with a fresh new perspective!

Give these creativity tips a try for yourself and do them often.  Then watch as ideas start to come more easily and new innovations you may never have considered before suddenly appear when you’re “turned in.”  It works!

Sherice Jacob is a web designer, copywriter, and author of Get Niche Quick! You can follow her @Sherice

22 responses to 7 Easy (And Fun!) Exercises to Boost Your Creativity

  1. janice

    Is this a guest post? Nice one, Sherice, if it is! Guys, if it is a guest post, could you maybe add a ‘By Sherice Jacobs’ right at the top. I nearly missed Sherice’s details.

    #6 is my favourite – I’ve just done a whole post on it! Love people watching in cafés, too – could do it all day!

    janice’s last blog post..Writing to Connect: Does Your Writing Stink?

    • janice

      Thanks for updating so quickly, guys. Nice to feel heard.

      PS @Sherice,
      It just occured to me that commenting in other blogs and replying to comments in my own is an aspect of your #2 that always helps me get unstuck. I love the randomness of never knowing what to expect!

  2. Lori Hoeck

    What a jam-packed post! Although I doubt my ability to doodle my way to creativity, I’ll have to give that one a try. The dictionary or random word idea always works for me.

    Lori Hoeck’s last blog post..Rebirth

  3. Samar

    Candy + Mozart? I’ve got to try this! Only I’d like to replace Mozart with uhh… 3 Doors Down?

    Exploring the senses tends to work best on those who practice yoga. But if you can do simple stretches to, that helps a lot!

    Great post David! All hail the power of Doodle!

    Samar’s last blog post..Are you staff blogging yet?

  4. Samar

    Yikes! My bad. This is what quick fingers will do to you.

    Shanice, my apologies for mistaking the post as David’s. You’ve written an excellent article with some really fun (and new) creativity boosters.

    Samar’s last blog post..Are you staff blogging yet?

  5. Tracy

    Hey Kim, I always thought I doodled while on the phone to keep my jumping monkey brain occupied so I didn’t start thinking about other stuff while the person on the phone talks. That’s why I can’t listen to books on tape, jumping monkey brain is too distracting.

    My personal method when I’m stuck is to just get up and march around the house for a bit, maybe if nobody is home I’ll do something that looks like super clumsy circuit training. That usually gets me going again.

    Great guest post Shanice! Good to meet you!

    Tracy’s last blog post..5 Super Creepy Songs

  6. cindy platt

    Shanice,
    This post was chock full of great ideas and reminders of things I have forgotten to do. I love people watching. Airports are the best, but second place goes to a small oval window upstairs that has a bird’s eye view of all the kookines of our neighborhood. From the lady shouting “Tamales” from the baby stroller to disguise her business, to the El Tejano truck that drives up with produce to sell out of the back of the truck and his grand announcement theme song La Cucarocha to the rascally boys tumbling home from school and elderly couples holding hands and walking in the evening there is never a dull moment. Our neighborhodd has flavor for sure. Loved your post.

    cindy platt’s last blog post..Mothers Who…

  7. Marc - WelshScribe

    Great and timely post Sherice. I agree with Lori, Cindy and the others that say it’s jam full of fantastic ideas.

    I’m pretty sure my chemistry teacher was the one who taught us to eat a chocolate bar before doing anything intensive like studying for or sitting exams. I miss my old chemistry days…

    Your post worked Sherice you just sparked my creativity. Thank you

  8. Solomon

    I tend to talk a lot to friends when I’m lost. My biggest worry is the phone bill … huh. But it works when I talk about something my fried has to say. If he says he is fine – dwell on his good things, if says he is dull… perk him up (don’t give vent to any bad experience, that only will exasperate us!). In the process of talking something I discover there is a new way to things. Sort of brainstorming…
    I know now how dictionary can help us, and I can’t agree with you more how a good piece of bite will help us to set off our senses!!!
    Great way to awaken the creative self. Great insights!

  9. LisaNewton

    What a great list. I have used several of these. One other idea to increase creativity I’ve used is snapping a picture. Several times, after I get home from a shoot, I take a look at the pictures and discover something I hadn’t planned.

    For example, recently I went to the beach to enjoy the day and take some pictures. I already had a blog post in mind, but after reviewing the shoots, I also found this, 5 Lessons I learned at the beach, http://www.travelinlocal.com/5-lessons-i-learned-at-the-beach/.

    Creativity can come from so many different sources. Don’t you just love blogging?

  10. Sherice

    Glad to hear you all have enjoyed the post and learned a lot from it! I enjoyed reading your unique creativity boosters too 🙂

  11. Sean

    Sherice,

    Thanks for such a great first guest post! I really loved all of your tips, though I think #4 has to be my favorite. Candy and classical music to boost my creativity! Yup, totally sign me up for that.

    Sean’s last blog post..Meme Oh My-O

  12. Susan Greene

    I was reading this post thinking, “Hmm, this is pretty darn good.” Then I saw the author was named Sherice. I thought to myself, “How odd is that. I just contracted some graphic design work with another woman named Sherice. Two Sherice’s in one day.”

    Turns out there’s only one Sherice – you! The Internet keeps getting smaller every day. I’m impressed that you are a copywriter AND a graphic designer too. Looks like you stood in line twice when talent was being handed out. I look forward to seeing more of your work.

  13. Divya Diana Dias

    Hey! Thanks for the awesome post. I usually rely on random words and going out and meeting people. I simply have to give ‘doodling’ a try. Brain feels like it’s frozen write now. I hope the doodles help it thaw. 😛

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