Linda Donahue

11 Ways to Boost Your Creativity

June 25, 2023

I’m Linda
I'm an award-winning copywriter, brand messaging expert, and digital content strategist who loves to share my knowledge to help other entrepreneurs succeed!
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You don’t have to be an artist to make creativity a part of your everyday. In fact, creativity is essential to living your best life. Want to boost your creativity? It’s so easy.

Paint, dried flowers, art pens, collage, Polaroid prints, and ink stamps provide the elements for creativity.

Tell me if you’ve ever found yourself in one of these situations:

  • While prepping a small feast for the dinner party you’re hosting, you realize you’re missing two key ingredients, and there’s no time to get to the store and buy them. 
  • Your team at the office was asked to come up with $250,000 in sales by the end of the week to meet the quarterly quota.
  • You’ve been tasked with chairing the annual gala for your favorite charity, and you have to come up with a theme, sponsors, and auction items to double the previous year’s proceeds.
  • You’ve been stuck in a rut for months now, feeling like you need to bust out of your routine and do something — anything — that will reignite your passion for life.

Me? I’ve had to figure out a workaround for missing ingredients, been called upon to double fundraising goals, and had to make last-minute client presentations without input from said client. And the thing that always saved me is that I’m able to think creatively. 

If you’ve ever wondered how to supercharge your creative thinking, you’re in the right place. Being creative is a crucial skill for all aspects of life, personal and professional. Creativity gives us this super cool ability to birth new, innovative ideas or link existing ones in fresh ways. It’s like a secret weapon for problem-solving.

Let’s not forget how creative we were as kids, when we made up songs, stories, even imaginary best friends who helped us navigate the complexities of life. It wasn’t until we were told to color inside the lines that our creativity began to be overshadowed by practicalities. But, fear not, because creativity is like a muscle. The more you flex it, the stronger it gets. And like any muscle, there are exercises you can do to build it up. Ready to dive in?

Channel your inner artist.

Even though I’ve worked in a creative field (copywriting) for well more than two decades, thinking creatively is a different creature than being a creative. But I know that having a creative hobby can help you nurture your ability to think outside the proverbial box.

My “hobby” — fine art photography — is actually more of a side hustle. I’ve had my work exhibited in galleries in New York and Miami and have made six figures in sales. But more than any financial compensation, my photography is my creative outlet. Seeing the world through the camera lens gives me a different perspective on my everyday life. 

Though most of my portfolio consists of work taken while traveling the world, the pandemic gave me a more local focus. That’s when I began noticing the things I’d overlooked every single day. I started paying attention to the flora and fauna, and to the people out and about on a sunny day.

I found that my heightened power of perception translated to my work as a writer, where I was able to add depth and throughlines to my copy. 

What’s more, photography gives my brain room to breathe. When you’re a writer, the brain gets crowded with words and phrases and ideas. Having a more visual creative outlet lets those words and concepts drain out so that new, fresh ones can find their way in.

Painting with watercolors is another way to boost creativity.

So find a creative hobby that gives you that new perspective. Maybe it’s painting, maybe it’s music. Whatever it is, give it your full attention and you’ll find yourself building some serious creative muscle.

Bring on the brainstorm.

Brainstorming may just be the heart of creativity. Proper brainstorming is the process of free-flowing ideas without judgment. It’s like throwing a party for ideas — and the more, the merrier. 

The principle is simple: just let all your thoughts flow, no matter how outlandish or seemingly unfeasible they might seem. Leave out the analysis or the critique. In brainstorming, it’s not about quality; it’s about quantity, at least not at first. Because from an ocean of ideas, a few big fish will emerge. The rest can be tossed back or used to bait a bigger catch. 

Here’s the key strategy behind a hurricane-force brainstorm: bring in outsiders. Great ideas often come from people who aren’t stakeholders in the project. I was once working with my team on coming up with a new campaign for a client. We filled the room with writers, art directors, photographers, video producers — basically every creative in the agency. We had the account services team there, too, since they worked with the client on the creative brief. After an hour or so, we invited some folks from the accounting department and the team who purchased the media where our ads and commercials ran — all people who loved their spreadsheets — to join us. The people you’d least expect to come up with a brilliant creative campaign offered the most creative ideas in the room.

So don’t limit your group when brainstorming. And don’t worry about pulling one together, either. Brainstorming on your own allows for complete freedom and control. Either way, it’s guaranteed to kickstart your conceptual thinking and boost your creativity.

Team up with others.

Two minds are better than one. Teamwork makes the dream work. Yeah, these clichés can be icky to hear, but that doesn’t make them any less true. Collaboration can take a good idea and turn it into an amazing one. It can turn a spark into a raging inferno of brilliance.

Joining forces with other creative minds goes well beyond brainstorming. It’s incredible how seeing through someone else’s lens can bring a whole new dimension to your ideas. More than that, you’re bringing in others who can fill in your blind spots with their strengths and experiences. Teaming up for a project can be a game-changer because a fresh perspective could be the missing puzzle piece that turns good into great. And that’s how you boost your creativity.

Find inspiration in others.

Did you ever read a book and find something in it that inspired you to do something? Visit a foreign land. Take up a new line of work. Dive into a new spiritual quest. Or maybe you’re like me and flip through interior design magazines and grab ideas for my own home, or scour the internet to see how other women style themselves for the modern workplace. 

Getting creatively sparked by other people’s work is one of the best ways to boost your creativity. I’ll never forget the Picasso-Matisse exhibition at MoMA back in 2003. Whoever curated it did a brilliant job of showing how these two were sparked by each other. Each painting by one of the two artists was a response to a painting by the other.

“No one has ever looked at Matisse’s painting more carefully than I; and no one has looked at mine more carefully than he,” said Picasso of his friend/rival. These two legends watched and reacted to what the other was doing. One only need to look at their works to see how they were inspired by each other.

Where will you find your inspiration? In an art gallery? An online blog? A concert or a podcast? You can find it in nature, in a song, in a mathematical equation or even in your own home. Inspiration isn’t about copying or comparing, but understanding the creative choices made by others and how you can absorb those elements, or the idea of those elements, into your work to make it more interesting or engaging.

Take a chill pill.

Sometimes the most creative thing you can do is…absolutely nothing. 

Our brains need some downtime for subconscious processing, my friend. Ever wonder why some of your best ideas come when you’re showering, jogging, or just daydreaming? That’s your brain using downtime to consolidate ideas and make unique connections.

So, yeah, taking a break and shaking up your routine can work wonders. Feeling stuck? Take a walk in the park, try a new coffee shop, or simply zen out for a bit. Give your brain a little vacay. When it returns, it’ll be loaded with new ideas!

Be here now.

And then there’s Mindfulness, a simple yet powerful way to boost your creativity. It’s like a pause button that helps you soak in your surroundings, letting you notice unnoticed details. This pause creates the space for innovation and new ideas. Plus, it’s a fantastic stress buster, keeping those creativity blockers at bay.

As a meditator, I can attest to the power of brain downtime. Some of my best ideas have been sparked during my meditation — including one that may have saved a few jobs when the pandemic shut down my client’s operations. This resort brand couldn’t welcome guests for months, but when I came up with a campaign that put homebound travelers into a vacation state of mind, my agency spent those months creating streaming videos and music playlists, and giving the internet recipes for drinks and resort-favorite recipes, and doing livestreams from the resort for virtual beach parties. This “state of mind” campaign was born from a meditated state of mind.

Meditation on the beach can improve creativity.

Make mistakes.

Creativity isn’t about getting everything right the first time. Ever messed up and ended up with something better? Mistakes can be surprise gifts in disguise. They’re not barriers; they’re unexpected detours. 

So if things go south, don’t fret! Embrace these oopsie-daisies and see them as steppingstones towards bigger, better ideas. When you’re open to the unexpected, you’ll find yourself tripping into fascinating ideas.

Set some goals … and deadlines.

A bit of healthy pressure can unleash creativity like a catapult. I’m a big fan of goalsetting. It helps me get clear on what I want and how I can get it. But I go way beyond just writing down my goals. I break them down into actionable steps. 

Goalsetting takes out the guesswork out of the process. It also helps create timelines for each goal and set deadlines that push you to work more efficiently. That ticking clock can push you to think out of the box, taking your creativity on a thrilling, productive ride.

Get some alone time.

Spending some time by yourself can really boost creativity. It’s just a great way to get away from the noise and expectations of others. I’m a big fan of venturing off on my own. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking myself out for a meal or to a movie. 

I also have no problem traveling across the world on my own. In fact, I will tell you to do it yourself. Getting out of your comfort zone can be one of the best ways to change your perspective, particularly in a place where the language and culture aren’t your own. After all, you’re forced to get creative to be understood and get around. I’ve also befriended more people when traveling on my own than I did when with others—in places like Italy, Istanbul, and Paris. Some great collaborations were born out of my travels.

Whether you do it at home or abroad, alone time gives you the space to reflect on your thoughts, relive your experiences, and stumble upon insights that could spark brilliant ideas. Set aside a few minutes each day to introspect or journal your thoughts. You might discover a new angle to your work that could pave the way for innovation.

Try something new.

New experiences are like fuel to your creative fire. Be it backpacking to an unexplored location, tickling your taste buds with exotic cuisine, or attending a live show, the newness opens your mind to fresh ideas. Step out of your comfort zone, challenge your assumptions, and you’ll find the world brimming with possibilities.

Persistence is key.

Last but not least, hang in there! Creativity is a wild ride, filled with highs and lows. It’s crucial to stick to it, even when the going gets tough. Keep chipping away at your ideas, and soon enough, you’ll hit upon something that blows your mind. And that’s how you’ll boost your creativity.

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