14 ways to think more creatively
“Life isn’t about ‘finding’ fulfilment and success – it’s about creating it. Why then has creativity been given a back seat in our culture? No longer.” So explains Chase Jarvis in his new book Creative Calling. Here is an excerpt from the book, which details Chase’s tips for Creativity Boosters.
Whether you’re a hobbyist or a pro, learning the technical skills of your craft is essential. And if you aspire to move into a creative profession, core skills are the price of entry. Become so good at the fundamentals of your craft that they become automatic and effortless, like breathing, walking, or chewing gum. That’s when you’ll experience the real fun and prizes of a creative calling.
2. Creative Cross-Training
By practising a host of creative crafts beyond your chosen medium of focus, not only do you stay creatively fit, but you consistently and subconsciously remind yourself that you can take an active role in shaping the arc of your life.
Mindfulness has easily had the most positive effect of any one “master skill” I have practised over the past decade. As researchers continue conducting high-quality studies into meditation, the advocates are only banging the drum harder because of its benefits to good health and wellness.
4. Gratitude and Visualisation
An attitude of gratitude helps us stay in touch with the overall richness of life and acts as an antidote to any negative emotions we might be feeling. Visualisation is a powerful tool that high performers from myriad disciplines use for programming their subconscious mind. Even the most cursory online search will reveal a number of methods for each.
Staying fit and getting your heart rate up during the day has been shown in study after study to increase creative connections and cognitive ability. My approach is to have a baseline practice that keeps me physically fit. Ultimately, anything that gets my blood pumping is good, and fresh air is a plus. It doesn’t take a marathon to change your headspace. In short, move your body, and your brain will follow.
6. Cold Therapy
Admittedly, this is esoteric, but just a few minutes of cold-water therapy in the morning can be a game changer. In addition to the science that suggests it’s a mood enhancer (not always at first for some people) and potentially even an antidote against depression, it’s also a powerful stimulant for one’s immune system. The goal is simple: to get the body cold every morning as a mechanism for waking up and facing the day.
7. Good Nutrition
Live your life as you will, but eating clean and reducing your consumption of processed foods and refined sugars will keep your energy levels steady throughout the day – and over the arc of months and years.
8. Proper Hydration
This is essential. I try to drink 64 ounces – roughly eight glasses – of water each day and more when I can. I find that if I kick off the day with two glasses of cold water immediately on waking, I feel revitalised right away and I’m much more likely to hit my 64 ounce goal.
9. Creating Before Consuming
If the first thing you do each day is pick up your phone and cruise all your favourite creators and entrepreneurs for inspiration, you probably end up feeling anxious or depressed that you’re not far enough along. The simple act of creating something with intention first, before consuming the work of others, alters the dynamic. So please, create first. Make something (and ideally share it), no matter how small.
10. Good Organisation
A good crafts-person knows where to find each tool and has it ready to hand. A chaotic work space adds cognitive load to your efforts and a more organised one can give you a creative boost.
11. Adventure and Play
Plain and simple, get off your ass and go have some fun! No matter how abstract or fantastic your work, it all has to come from somewhere in your psyche to have any value. Some quality input is required before you can create worthwhile output. Creators need some thrills, some experience with the work of others, some discomfort, excitement, fun, highs and lows, wins and losses. Living life is the very basis of our work.
This is one of the creative industry’s biggest secrets (that hides in plain sight). Creative inspiration comes from other inspired creations and creators. Diversity breeds growth, even if it’s growing to understand what you don’t like. And don’t restrict yourself to popular masterpieces, either. Look at the work of other artists just starting out, people making work closer to your own level of success and impact. Get curious and explore.
I deliberately alternate my time between adventure mode and quiet mode. I go out into the world to seek inspiration. Then I go into the studio and let those experiences percolate quietly until something new bubbles up in my mind. My best business ideas have always come after intense work periods and radical play in areas unrelated to business.
I started tracking my sleep a few years ago with the aim of optimising its quality and quantity. I now aim to get at least seven hours a night. Get your sleep and, if you can, try waking up early. It’s a simple way to create high-quality, uninterrupted time and space for your creative work.