We’ve all had this problem at least once in our lives: we want to or are assigned to make something from scratch – completely out of our own ideas, with our own hands and skills and resources. However, the moment we sit down with a pen and paper in hand (or a blank Word document on our laptops), it seems our brains have come to a full stop, and we have nothing.
Don’t lie – this scenario has happened to you before, regardless if you are a writer, a musician, an officer at your org, or even just an average student, trying to come up with a 500-word reflection paper. But what exactly is going on in our heads when we are being creative?
Many people still believe in the “left brain – right brain” phenomenon, the concept that the left brain is the analytical, logical side, while the right brain is the artistic one. Science has, however, debunked this. We know that creativity doesn’t really have a specific niche in our brains – it can exist anywhere. So why is it so hard to come by?
A great many artists have given tips on how to enhance creativity, some of which you may not have heard before. On the other side of the spectrum, it seems that science today has looked into the idea of creativity as well, so much so that it has its own set of tips. Bridging the two contrasting sides together, let’s see where theory and experience collide.
Scribble or doodle. Draft.
Many writers urge you to scribble, the same way many artists urge you to doodle. Basically, this gets you in touch with your craft. Psychologically speaking, doing this habitually turns it into regular behavior, which means when you need to make a draft, you’ll be more used to it and the ideas will come in faster.
Be an introvert.
We don’t mean introverts are more creative, but many artists agree they often need to spend some time in their heads – it’s not easy to get ideas when you’re with others. The research behind this is simple: less distractions for your brain to pay attention to. This explains why the TV should be off and why you should close your Tumblr tab when you have a paper to write.
Listening to music, however, is a debate. Some artists can’t work when there’s music playing; some need a song on loop in their ears to begin. Whether or not you put on those earphones when you’ve got a test to study for, then, is really up to you.
Admittedly, this is a stark opposite to the previous tip, but hear me out. While it may be difficult easy to get ideas when you’re with friends who have other things to talk about, more heads are better than one when you’re all trying to come up with the same thing. This enables you to look at concepts from different angles, compare ideas, and even contradict or critique each other. Now you know why group projects have become so popular.
Take a walk.
Inspiration can be found anywhere, which is why many artists claim that the best way to find it is by walking around and just seeing the world. Those who are able to spot and preserve ideas long enough to put them on paper, canvas, or song are labeled “creative.” An important scientific tip stresses on Capturing, the concept of being able to store fleeting ideas. People who really want to utilize this skill carry around notebooks wherever they go. Luckily for those unused to carrying around pen and paper, though, the advent of phones and laptops that we bring with us everywhere makes capturing a good idea just that much easier.
Do something new.
As mentioned earlier, many artists get inspiration by a change of scenery, which is why they prefer to leave the confines of their house (and of their blank canvas). Science agrees with this, claiming that by surrounding yourself with different kinds of stimuli, and changing that stimuli often, you get multiple behaviors working together.
Additionally, to be creative you shouldn’t be afraid to take risks and do what scares you. This is another skill psychologists want you to learn – Challenging. Don’t be afraid to fail. When we feel frustrated by failure, we change the behavior that first led us to it. That way, we find new ways to solve a problem or look at an issue – in other words, we become creative.
Get used to work.
Not something you hear everyday, is it? It’s true, though. When you’ve been doing something for a long time, inspiration doesn’t always come like a flash of lightning. It’s something you work on. Therefore, stew on an idea. Practice. By doing this, you’re not only improving your skill, but you’re encouraging the behavior.
This should be self-explanatory, but it’s too important to pass up. Ask questions. When writing a scientific paper, usually students are asked to find a “research gap”. This is basically a question that hasn’t been answered yet – once you’ve thought of one, you can begin writing your paper. It’s the same with the creative process.
Another way to be curious is by the psychological skill Broadening. In addition to trying something new, attempt something that isn’t your speed. This helps you see the world as others see it, and changes the way you think.
Finally, if there’s one thing science and art agree on, it’s that creativity should be a process you love. When you create something, have fun with it. Studies say that the reason many kids can’t bring themselves to be creative is that by the time they reach grade school, they aren’t allowed time to have fun – what with studies, homework, chores, and other concerns. Therefore, combat this and make the creative process a happy one. Love your work, regardless of whether or not you think it’s “perfect”. Be happy when you receive critique, because it gives you a new way of looking at things. Research shows that everyone can be creative, so let loose and allow yourself to think outside the box.
Who knows? The next idea to change the world just might be one of yours.