We all know people who are naturally creative. They can roll out ideas effortlessly. Some people are just blessed with creative minds, while others struggle to brainstorm new ideas. But there is still hope for people who want to be more creative. It just takes a lot of work and patience. All writers worry that someday their well of creativity will run dry. You’ve got your paper. You’ve got your pen. You’re all ready to start pounding out that masterpiece, but you’re just stuck. Nothing that you come up with seems to work. Here’s a few things I do when I’m feeling low on creativity.
Coloring books – get one
I swear by coloring books. Even if you don’t need it for a creativity boost, the nostalgic smell of cheap crayons brings back all those simple childhood days. Coloring books are wonderful because they give you a place to start. You have an outline. You have constraints, but still lots of space to make the picture your own. Do Zentangle in between the lines instead. Take things and mold them to make them your own.
Go back to your childhood
Similarly to the advice above, reflect on your memories from when you were a kid and had to make your toys come to life with just your imagination. What stories did you tell? Did you have a heroic stuffed bear? Did you build castles with Legos? Once when I was back at my parents’ house, I dug up my old dolls and wrote a short story for them to act out. Then I photographed the scenes and made a PowerPoint story book with them. It was the most fun I’d had in a long time and it really helped loosen up some new ideas for my current novel.
Your ‘writing bible’ is your BFF
Write everything that might spark your imagination in a document. Write down your favorite words like vermilion or nettled. This is really helpful during the editing process when you look back on your work and realize you’ve used the word very 10,000 times.
Play with someone else’s art
There is this one scene from Friends where the gang is watching a Spanish soap opera, and they make up their own dialogue. Recently I’ve been watching silent films from the 20’s and doing the same. Build upon the story that you’ve been given, and turn it into your own.
Become a thief
Not a real thief, of course. In Autin Kleon’s book, Steal Like an Artist, he tells you to make a Swipe File. A Swipe File is a place where you write down your favorite things that other authors have written about. Ex: When I hear a clever line from my favorite TV show, I write it down in my swipe file. Then later I can go back and analyze why I like it, and draw inspiration from it.
Just keep reading
Being an author is part writing, part reading. Read from your favorite authors, and then write a quick analysis about the book. Map it out. What kind of hook did they use? Was there character development? Where did they place foreshadowing?
One last thing…
My music choir instructor teacher once said that there isn’t a music line in history that hasn’t already been written. You can’t make a rhythm that hasn’t already been sung. This is the same when it comes to your writing. Don’t shoot for original, because it’s already been done by now, by someone out there. What sets you apart are the other things, besides having a super creative idea, like character development. Yes, someone’s already done it, but make yours better. That’s what works.