Exercises that Lead to Big Ideas
People often describe me as a creative person, but what does that really mean? Aren’t we all creative to some degree? Coming up with a faster route to work, trying out a new recipe for dinner, or figuring out how to decorate your newly painted living room are all forms of creativity.
When we think of creative people, we typically think of the ones with the big ideas, the different outlook on life, the “edge” that makes them stand out in a crowd. We aren’t usually thinking of the busy mom who is planning her weekly family meals. So, what’s the difference?
Well, just like a beloved house plant, the creative brain needs the proper love and nutrients to grow to its full potential and continue to thrive for years to come. Those who use these exercises and understand them are far more likely to be the ones thinking outside the box.
Although creative people tend to have a lot of energy, both physically and mentally, they also spend a lot of time at rest. Or as others may see it, “zoned out”. This allows them some quiet time to reflect on the big and sometimes small ideas that hold their interest, allowing their minds to wander.
The daydreaming state is a very important piece of the creative brain that can easily be overlooked. How could he possibly be “creating” when he’s just staring at the ceiling?
This is what some would call the conception or incubation stage of an idea. Before the idea is really born, it takes on multiple forms in the brain. We could be actively thinking about this idea, or it could simply be tucked away and ruminating at its own gentle pace, waiting to bloom at just the right moment. This process could take anywhere from hours to days or months before it all falls into place. Allowing your brain this “down time” to dream is essential. While not all your thoughts may be totally “creative”, the daydreaming state will help you sort through and determine what is.
So don’t beat yourself up if the big ideas don’t come at the speed of light. Chill out, daydream, sleep on it. Your brain is piecing things together more than you realize.
Switch Things Up
If there’s one thing that’s going to drain the creative brain, it’s the continuous repetition of something unfulfilling. Not a fan of salad? That’s why you don’t eat it every day! The same thing applies to the creative brain. It thrives off change and adaptation. Giving your brain the task of figuring out a new way to perform is like giving your biceps some weights to lift while you’re at the gym. It just makes sense!
An example that I found interesting while partaking in Copy Con 2022, was that even changing up simple everyday tasks, such as eating with your non-dominant hand for a day, will start firing off new signals in the brain. Take a new route to work, listen to a different genre of music for the day, or hand write your ideas instead of typing them. There are a million ways to switch things up, and if it is exercising that creative brain, then what’s stopping you?
So, if you find yourself stuck or struggling with your creativity, practice changing things up and give your brain a new challenge to work on for a while.
Get Out and About
Take a look at the environment you create in. Do you feel inspired here, or are you feeling a little trapped? Instead of forcing yourself to create somewhere you feel “blah”, try packing up your laptop and heading out to a park, or coffee shop. Sometimes a busy, bustling environment is just what your brain needs to start firing off those big ideas again.
Try heading out for a walk. Breathe in some fresh air, look at some new scenery, maybe meet some new neighbours! Not only will this feel like a little treat for your creative brain, but studies have also found that physical exercise can promote “unconventional” thinking. Bonus!
It’s no secret that for both children and adults that play, and joy come hand in hand. This naturally leads to greater inspiration, effort, and creative growth.
I like to think that highly creative people, are just big kids who never really “grew up”. You know, the ones with the imaginary friends, the ones who played with barbies for hours, coming up with complete story lines, arguments, names and personalities for each doll. The people that harnessed their unique imagination and continued to use it in their day-to-day life as they grew older.
This way of thinking may have even landed them a job in a creative role. Now they’re making a living off what they do best, thinking, creating and dreaming!
Another simple way to water your creative brain is to quite literally, water your creative brain.
Dehydration can cause irritability, anxiety, dizziness, tiredness, the list goes on and on.
This does not sound like the ideal state of mind for creating big ideas now, does it?
Beyond this, a simple warm shower or bath can also have a positive effect on the brain as well. Releasing that feel good hormone, dopamine, can encourage those ideas to flow more freely. The shower or the tub is also a great place to daydream! So light some candles, spoil yourself with some fancy bubble bath and get creating!
Flex Your Creative Muscles
If a big idea doesn’t come to you today, or even tomorrow, don’t stress! These things take time and will be well worth all the noodling that your brain is doing behind the scenes.
I hope that you can use these ideas to keep your creative brain in tip top shape, and the next time anyone gets upset with you for taking some time to stare at the ceiling or go for a walk, remind them that this is all a part of the process.