Wisdom//

If You Need a Creative Boost, Try These Simple Tips to Spark Your Imagination

Whether you’ve hit a wall or feel like you’re simply out of ideas, these small exercises will help you get back on track.

RedPixel.Pl/ Shutterstock
RedPixel.Pl/ Shutterstock

We all have our own ways of getting our creative juices flowing. While some of us feel inspired after taking a walk in nature, others might get our biggest bursts of inspiration in the shower, or while sitting in total stillness. 

We asked our Thrive community to share the specific rituals that spark creativity and inspire their best ideas. Which of these will you try the next time you need a creative boost?

Establish a creative morning ritual

“I start most days with a small creative ritual. Before the rest of the house wakes up, I drink my coffee, grab my art supplies and journal, and proceed to paint, collage, write, and just create something each day. For me, the key is keeping the ritual tied to a well-established habit – my morning drink — and keeping my supplies organized and visible near my kitchen table. I find that on days I take this time, I’m much happier and less stressed.”

—Jill Elliott, founder of The Color Kind, Dallas, TX

Cook a new recipe

“Nothing gets my creative juices flowing like cooking — whether I’m chopping veggies for a salad, baking, or experimenting with a new recipe. I find it super stimulating to have a period of time when I am focused on the task at hand. It frees up space in my mind and helps me find solutions.”

—Carolina Connor, business development and sustainability, London, England

Go on a run

“My best ideas come when I am taking a run. Every day, I talk myself into going for a run because it is always a given that my creative juices will kick in as soon as my body gets comfortable in its pace. Up until that moment, I am entirely focused on my body: my breathing, my steps, and getting into the rhythm. For the first three minutes of movement, nothing else exists except settling into this experience. Once that hits, the creative thoughts start flowing.”

—Betsy Sexton, marketing consultant, Miramar Beach, FL

Work from an unfamiliar location

“At least once a week, I leave my office desk to work in a different place. It can be a coffee shop or a park. I have taken my laptop to quiet museums in London, and have also successfully worked from my own garden. Changing my surroundings often refreshes my brain, inspires me, and sparks creativity.”

—Marcio Delgado, global content producer and influencer marketing campaign manager, London, England

Share an idea with a stranger

“One of the techniques I use to spark creativity is to engage in a conversation with a perfect stranger and share my ideas with them. This especially works if I’ve hit a wall. I like to brief them and tell them what I’m working on to see if they’re interested. If they are, I share my ideas, and usually get the feedback that I need to move forward. “

—Rudy Chavarria Jr., founder of Diamond Bar, Walnut, CA

Play a game with your kids

“I find that one way to reconnect with your own creativity is to play with your children. While playing with my little ones, I am fully in the moment. It could be as simple as playing on the playground. When I’m with my girls, free of cell phones and emails, I feel my most creative. It also has the added bonus of creating meaningful moments of quality time with our family. It’s a win-win.”

—Azizi Marshall, creative arts therapist and counselor, Chicago, IL

Go for a drive

“I get creative hits when I’m running errands and shuttling the kids to their activities. My brain goes on autopilot with the familiar driving routes and starts processing ideas in the background!”

—Annie Little, lawyer career coach, Philadelphia, PA

Spend time in nature

“Nature is my go-to when it comes to sparking creativity in my personal and professional life. I go on an annual solo retreat in the mountains of Idaho. There’s no internet access, people, or distractions, except for the sounds, smells, and sights of mother nature’s presence. When I disconnect from technology, I reconnect to my humanity. And the inspiration for creativity around me is immense. Whether it’s watching a bird build a nest, putting my hands on the base of a tree, or just smelling the fresh air, I always leave with a deeper connection to myself.” 

—MaryBeth Hyland, workplace culture consultant, Baltimore, MD 

Try free drawing

“My go-to creativity tools include a pencil, an eraser, and unlined paper. To me, pencils are like wands, and ideas travel through them to appear on paper. Pencils make me feel safe to explore really wild thoughts because I can erase things, and morph my ideas without commitment. Having paper without lines is also important to let my thoughts flow.”

—Annabel Mendez, inventor, Miami, FL

Visit your happy place

“When I’m feeling a lull in my creativity, I rekindle it by going to one of my ‘happy places.’ Whether that’s taking a trip to my favorite Victorian town, a walk through a local antique store, or just simply sitting outside, I always find myself refreshed and energized by making time to do things that feel familiar. In a world where we are always being told to leave our comfort zone, sometimes we need a small dose of it to kickstart again.”

—Shelby Sudnick, coordinator at Tribe Relations, Wilkes-Barre, PA

Meditate

“I come up with my best ideas during or after periods of meditation. Since I started my inner wellness journey through meditation, I’ve felt a burst of creativity emerge from me and it has led me to do many things I never thought I’d do — like cooking, writing, and public speaking.”

—Divya Singh, wellness coach and business development professional, Calgary, AB, Canada 

Try the “five important things” writing prompt

“I do a lot of writing in my work, and sometimes, I find that my writing is getting a little stale. To juice things up, I call on one of my favorite writing prompts: ‘five important things.’ I’ll either write down five of my ‘titles’ — mom, entrepreneur, pet owner — five places that have meaning for me, five adjectives to describe my week, or five verbs to describe today. The exercise takes very little time and is available to me anytime and anywhere. It’s a great little tool!”

—Lauren Brownstein, philanthropy consultant, Bethesda, MD

Do an activity that relaxes you

“I find that relaxing is the key to creativity. Just think of your creativity energy like a garden hose. If there is a kink or block, no water can flow through. The same is true for your creative thoughts and ideas. My best ideas generally pop in my thoughts either after a short meditation session or writing in my journal because I am extremely relaxed.”

—Beth Blanco, financial counselor and mindset coach, Clayton, MI 

Try people-watching

“When I need a creative solution, I usually try people-watching, either on the beach, the street, or with a cup of coffee in an airport. Jotting down thoughts that flash through my mind usually produces the most coherent, simple, and effective outcomes.”

—Stephen P. Brown, conductor, U.K. and U.S.

Read a magazine

“My favorite way to spark creativity is to read magazines. I cut out anything that captures my attention, and create a mood board based on what inspires me that day. The colorful fashion spreads and fascinating stories never fail to get the creative juices flowing! Plus, it’s refreshing to get lost in an activity that doesn’t involve staring at a screen.”

—Tianna Soto, writer, New York, NY

Hang up inspiring art

“Whether in my business office or my home office, I surround myself with great ideas born of others. I find works of art or creative pieces that colleagues or competitors have put out there. Some inspire me to exceed current expectations, and others inspire me to think of new ways to use materials in creative ways. Looking around my office and seeing the pieces always expands my mind to imagine something different that will inspire others.”

—Scott Miller, marketing director, Wilmington, DE

Reframe your limiting beliefs

“When I want to be creative, I spend a few minutes shifting my mindset to let go of two limiting beliefs that get in my way. The first is, ‘I am not a creative person.’ To reframe this, I remind myself that everyone is a creative person, and if you have ever made something, written, spoken, sang or danced, you are creative. The second one is, ‘To be good enough, it must be perfect.’  To clear this belief, I remember that my best work is done when I am not attached to it being perfect.”

—Becky Morrison, executive coach, Ashburn, VA

How do you come up with your most creative ideas? Share your go-to tip with us in the comments!

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