Wikipedia defines Creativity as: “A mental process involving the generation of new ideas or concepts, or new associations between existing ideas or concepts.”
My personal belief is that we are all born creative beings. Some are lucky enough to retain that creative energy for a lifetime. Others may be less fortunate, the creativity stifled through negative messages, trauma, drugs, alcohol, illness, or some other external factor.
As writers, we struggle with the creative process on a daily basis. We must create unique and sympathetic characters; characters that jump off the page; characters with credible strengths, flaws, and fears; characters with real goals and compelling motives; in short, characters the readers can relate to. At the same time, we also need to create a plot line that hangs together, a plot line with twists, turns, and surprises, a plot line to spotlight our wonderful characters. And finally, writers need to use creative prose as the cement to bring both characters and plot to life, coaxing users to keep turning the page from the sheer joy of reading.
I would like to propose some suggestions to help stimulate creativity:
- Get Yourself Near Running Water: Take a shower. Seriously. Or get up close and personal with running water like a waterfall, fountain, or waves. Running water releases negative ions into the air, and negative ions, according to scientists, stimulate the part of the brain in which creativity resides.
- Positive Affirmations: Silence the little negative voice in your head with positive affirmations, for example, “I am taking the time to formulate brilliant ideas,” or “I know the perfect solution,” or, “I am a creative and talented writer, brimming with countless ideas,” etc.
- Relax (Literally): Do something you find relaxing and pleasurable, such as meditation, going for a walk in nature, watching the ocean, listening to music you find inspirational. Relaxation stimulates the brain to produce more dopamine, which is associated with increased creativity.
- Do Something Else: A change of atmosphere or activity is beneficial. Gentle exercise helps shake up the brain cells. A change in activity stimulates other parts of the brain. When Einstein got stuck on a difficult concept, he would go into another room to play his violin. Upon returning to the problem, he would generally find a solution. Exercising his mind in a different way boosted his creativity for the work he was doing.
- Use Self-Imposed Limits: When you’re stuck for an idea, open a dictionary, randomly select a word and then try to formulate ideas incorporating this word. Or flip through Tarot cards. You’d be surprised how well this works. The concept is based on a simple but little known truth: freedom inhibits creativity. There are nothing like restrictions to get you thinking.
- Define the Problem: Write it out in detail, uncensored, free-flowing. During the process, I find that ideas generally spew out on the page.
- Brainstorm: Talk your problem through with someone. Anyone. Your main squeeze. Your critique group. A friend. Sometimes, I just need to hear myself talk to discover the answer. Other times, another person will throw out an idea that I can use, change, or elaborate on.
- Observe the World Around You: Always carry a small notebook and a pen or pencil around with you. That way, if you are struck by an idea, you can quickly note it down. Upon rereading your notes, you may discover about 90% of the ideas are useless. That’s normal. What’s important are the 10% that are brilliant.
- Persevere: Force yourself to keep writing until you reach the solution. You may throw away dozens of pages, even chapters, but in the end, the solution will appear.
- Eat chocolate! Self-explanatory.