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12 Creativity Tricks That Will Totally Inspire You

Stop telling yourself you're not creative, and start telling yourself you're the next Picasso.

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1. Try working from a café, because a little noise will actually do your imagination good.

The writer in a café is a classic stereotype, but for good reason. Several studies have shown that a moderate level of noise (70–80 decibels, to be specific) is actually really helpful for getting in the creative zone.

If you can't get to a café, try listening to white noise or music without lyrics.

2. Ignore the little voice that keeps telling you you're not a true creative, and fake it 'til you make it.

If you feel like you're too left-brained or logical to be creative, you're selling yourself short and shooting yourself in the foot. The stereotype you embrace is the one you embody: the educational psychologists that tested out this idea call it the creative stereotype effect. So, if you walk around acting like you're the next Picasso or Sylvia Plath, you may find that you had more ideas than you originally thought. On the other hand, if you try to write a short story thinking like the Type A mathlete you always thought you were, you're probably going to have a tough time.

3. Give your mind permission to wander, because you'll burn out really quickly if you push yourself to focus for hours at a time.

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When you're trying really really hard to make yourself focus (like when you plan an eight-hour block of time to spend at the library), you're going to burn yourself out really quickly. It's important to take active periods of unfocus, and deliberately disconnect from the task at hand. Try doing something you find relaxing like taking a walk, doing a puzzle, or doodling. Doing so will allow your mind to wander and might actually spark that creativity that you've been pushing so hard for.

4. When creating, dig deeper into your own experiences so you aren't leaning on cliché, overused tropes.

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Let's say you're trying to write a comedy set about a plane trip. You could talk about how ridiculous the security line in the airport is or you could talk about how tiny the seats are, but you won't be telling the audience something they've already heard. Look past that, and think about your specific experience the last time you flew. Maybe you had a really strange conversation you had with your seat mate. Maybe you felt so freakin' awkward trying to get in line for the bathroom because you kept on getting in the way of the flight attendants. (Hey, I'm not a comedian, it's your job to make it funny.) Those are the things that everyone knows are true without realizing it. It's your job to make them pay attention.


5. Write all of your ideas down...and then get them out of your sight so they aren't distracting you.

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Sometimes the hardest part isn't coming up with ideas, it's getting yourself to focus on them. Keep a list somewhere — on a sticky note, a page in your journal, the draft of an email — of all of the ideas that you're so excited about. In a couple of days or weeks, when you've "run out" of ideas, consult it. Find the one that actually still makes sense and has some potential, and get rid of the others. Rest assured: if the ideas are really good, they'll come back to you.

6. Write a few pages every morning to clear out the cobwebs, and establish a habit of actually getting some writing done.

Rachel Miller

Morning pages is an old-school trick for clearing out the cobwebs that writers still swear by. It's super simple: just write three pages every morning. Period. That may seem daunting, but you can write literally anything. It doesn't matter. You could write a hundred lines of "I will write my morning pages every day" and it will still count. Eventually, something good will come out. You're creating a routine, an expectation for yourself that you will write every morning when your brain is fresh and the day has just begun.

7. Or do it at the end of the day when you're totally exhausted.

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Weirdly enough, we're more creative when we're tired. Your brain isn't as good at filtering out distractions, so you're more likely to have a crazy idea. Work some time into your evening routine (maybe an hour or so) to unpack all of those ideas onto a page. Not a screen — actual paper, please. Putting all of your thoughts down instead of letting them race through your head may actually help you get more sleep.

8. Let yourself get totally bored because that's when your mind starts to wander into something awesome.

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Those five minutes it takes you to walk to the bathroom, ten minutes it takes to grab a cup of coffee, or twenty minutes to commute to work are all healthy boredom breaks for your brain. Instead of scrolling through your Twitter feed or checking your email, do absolutely nothing else. Those little breaks will give you the space to think and imagine, and might even free up a bit more time for your creative endeavors.

Listen to Manoush Zomorodi's podcast "Note to Self" or read her book Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self for more ideas like this. Get the book from Amazon for $18.35, from Barnes & Noble for $19.28, or find it at your local bookseller on IndieBound.


9. Keep your "darlings" in a separate file so you don't actually have to kill them.

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If you've ever created art, written a line, or created a character that you were sure was peak genius, you have darlings. And when someone doesn't understand them, it seems like the most ridiculous, outrageous thing in the world. Throwing out, killing off, or scratching out your darlings is painful. But if they're getting in your way, hide them away in a place you don't see but can dig up later. It'll be less painful to get rid of them later when you've replaced them.

10. Join a team of other creators so you have people to rely on when the going gets tough.

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Creating something can be a lonely business...but it doesn't have to be! Create a network or start a monthly meeting with a few people trying to pursue on creative endeavors. You'll hold each other accountable and have people to bounce your ideas off of.

If none of your pals are interested, join groups that already exist. Meetup can help you find communities of people in your local area that are doing the same things — writing, drawing, photography, etc. — as you!

11. Stop judging yourself and take that first step because imperfect action is better than no action at all.

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The hardest part of doing something is doing it. Don't worry about whether it sounds good, looks good, or even makes sense. Start creating and don't look back. You can edit, delete, burn (idk, it's your process) it later.

12. And remember that you have the skills to get it done, and that the hard work will be worth it in the end.

If you've never doubted your creativity or potential, then hats off to you. But for most, it's one of the most paralyzing parts of the process. It's so easy to tell yourself the reasons that you can't do it, that it's hard to remember the reasons why you can. You're a creator. Keep telling yourself that. Or get someone else to do it. The Creative Pep Talk podcast will support you through those tough times, and give you the tools to get through it.