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23 Ways to Capture Creativity

According to the dictionary creativity is…

the use of the imagination or original ideas, esp. in the production of an artistic work.

In many ways, creativity depends on a variety of things like knowledge, technical skills, talent, and hinges on the ability to push through dry spells. For me creativity is a continuous process; a process that requires bringing ideas into the world through writing, photography, and connecting with others.

Why is creativity important?

Psychologist and author Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi argues that we can find happiness through creativity. He discusses two powerful creative motivations. First is the ability to enjoy being creative for the sake of exploration and invention. The second motivation is focused on pleasure and comfort. Csikszentmihalyi says balancing these motivations can enhance our creative capacity and bring us happiness.

Is your muse missing in action?

It’s easy to fall into creative slumps. But it’s important to trust yourself and work through creative dry spells. In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield said:

The muse honors the working stiff.

So when you’re muse is missing don’t fret. Use the tips below to capture your creative ideas.

1. Take a leisurely bike ride, walk or run. (Logan says this is my answer to all life’s problems). πŸ™‚

2. Be part of the education revolution.

3. Create a tumblr blog. My tumblr blog has turned into a digital vision map. It’s the place I go to find inspiring quotes, stories and artwork.

4. Free write or draw in your journal. Writing doesn’t have to be a linear process.

5. Learn to relax and slow down.

6. Create time and space to practice yoga.

7. Pick up clutter around your house.

8. Explore your backyard.

9. Turn the internet off.

10. Change your surroundings.

11. Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea.

12. If something sparks your interest explore the topic.

13. To keep enjoying something, increase its complexity.

14. Learn a craft like knitting or scrap booking.

15. Examine problems from as many viewpoints as possible.

16. Think positively.

17. Learn to say no.

18. Be willing to reinvent yourself.

19. Have a meal with friends and family. Talk about your projects, set-backs, and fears.

20. Go vagabonding!

21. Get your move on!

22. Read, read, and then read some more.

23. Ask yourself lots of questions.

What would you add to the list?


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Luke @ simplifi.de May 28, 2010, 8:00 am

    Out of all 23, I think numbers 9 and 11 key for me… okay, I can be creative with #11, but it’s not as much fun! πŸ™‚

    My thing to add to the list: be creative outside… I see lots of people mentioning the outdoors as a place to get inspiration, but I love actually doing the work out there. Obviously it’s whether dependent, but there’s just something about being outside in the fresh air that seems to draw the creativity out!

    • Tammy May 29, 2010, 6:16 pm

      Thanks Luke! And I totally agree – being creative outside is so important. Whenever I’m in a creative slump, I head outside for a walk or run and that usually gets my creative juices flowing.

      I need to bring my computer to the park sometime; it would be such a peaceful place to write. Thanks for the suggestions!

  • Simply DIYgal May 28, 2010, 8:07 am

    Great post Tammy!

    Creativity is something that is dear to my heart. I’m a big believer that everyone is creative in their own way, they just have to take the time to find out how…and I try to encourage others to find their creative side on a daily basis. You hit the nail on the head with these 23 ways!

    I definitely understand how creativity can bring happiness. Just think about it, as kids we were always being creative in some way (coloring things whatever color we wanted, making boxes become a hideout,etc.). And I’m always hearing adults wish they could be a kid again, and feel carefree and happy like they did “way back when”. We sometimes get too caught up in our routines as adults, that we often forget or don’t make time to be creative….but it doesn’t have to be that way. We may not be creative in the same ways we were as kids, but if people just take the time to slow down, I’m sure they can find out what their adult creative outlet is.

    • Tammy May 29, 2010, 6:18 pm

      @Simply DIYgal – thanks! You bring up really interesting points about adults and creativity. Sometimes I wonder why adults don’t smile, laugh and play more. All of those things foster creativity. It’s seems like many of us forget to have fun and slow down. Thanks for reading the blog. πŸ™‚

  • [email protected] May 28, 2010, 8:36 am

    Super post, Tammy. Love the quote, “The muse honors the working stiff”. I’ll add that one to my list of things to remember when the well runs dry.


    • Tammy May 29, 2010, 6:18 pm

      Thanks Alan – that’s one of my favorite quotes. Hope to see you in a few weeks.

  • Lynn Fang May 28, 2010, 9:05 am

    Hi Tammy,
    Awesome post! I love your tumblr blog! I should start one too… I really enjoy examining problems from all different perspectives, it helps me feel grounded. I’ve tried most things on your list, except vagabonding and yoga. Yoga is something I’ve been meaning to pick up, I think it would really help to relax me. I definitely agree with increasing complexity in an activity you enjoy. Giving yourself a modest challenge is really rewarding. Mihaly also does research in flow psychology. Flow is a state that incorporates a manageable challenge that you can apply your skills towards, so you can accomplish the task and feel really good about the entire process. I talked about it a little more here.

    @Simply DIYgal, I think adults are culturally raised to believe they can never be kids as adults. But really, as adults we are every age we ever lived. And who established being adult had to mean no fun or creativity? Though I admit it is a bit harder to find creativity as an adult, but one can still be carefree and happy.

    Also, I find some people are just shut off entirely to exploring their creativity. Any ideas on how to open them up?

    • Tammy May 29, 2010, 6:22 pm

      Thanks Lynn. I love Mihaly’s work. He is amazing. πŸ™‚

      I don’t know why some folks feel so shut off when it comes to creativity. Brainstorming, mind mapping and spending time outside have always helped me. I also think it’s important to look at life from a new and different perspectives.

  • IvΓ‘n PΓ©rez May 28, 2010, 9:31 am

    I love studying creativity, to me it sounds fascinating. I think creativity is what differentiates those who succeed from those who don’t, not just in art but almost in any area of life. You need to learn from others to get to the top 10, but then you need to be creative to get to the TOP1! Also, creativity and resourcefulness are very related.

    There’s a lot of resources in this post so I’m sure I’ll come to it over and over.

    Have fun,

    @Simply DIYgal I’ve never thought of the relationship between creativity and happiness, but I always take kids (never forgetting about the maturity and lessons you learn through life) as a model for happiness. Cheers.

    • Tammy May 29, 2010, 6:23 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Ivan. I appreciate it. πŸ™‚

  • Ivana Sendecka May 28, 2010, 9:39 am

    Hi Tammy,
    super cool list;-)
    What works for me when I want to I get myself into a “flow” as Mihaliy would name it, or into a “in the zone” as Ken calls it. I make sure, that then I always carry with me pen and my tiny “idea journal”, where I am noting down flashes of ideas, which can pop up in my head anytime: during walks, during coffee breaks, during reading etc.
    To make double sure not to miss a wave of the muse is,that I have huge sheet of paper on the wall right next to my bed and color markers are ready for use, in case ideas, which are hitting me during my sleep;-)
    Guys, have a wonderfully creative Friday.
    cheers from Slovakia

    • Tammy May 29, 2010, 6:14 pm

      @Ivana – thanks for stopping by and leaving all the fantastic suggestions. I hope you have a fantastic weekend. πŸ™‚

  • Dawn May 28, 2010, 10:59 am

    My big thing is to just do it. I posted in my blog about this. But ultimately if you are a painter and can’t think of anything to paint then paint a line. If you are a writer and can’t seem to write then write a word. Just do that first step and then the second and so on and so forth. If it turns out like crap you can always toss it but at least you took the first step.

    • Tammy May 29, 2010, 6:24 pm

      @Dawn – taking action is so important. Nothing is perfect the first time around – it’s all about plugging along and doing the best you can. Awesome tip. πŸ™‚

  • Katie May 28, 2010, 6:25 pm

    Inspired Tammy. It’s always great to know that creatives are all the same. We need our yoga, our backyards, our relaxation and our tea. Painting gives me that “pleasure and comfort” while writing is where I get the “invention and exploration” fix. Thanks for the reminders and for sharing.

  • Jean Sarauer May 28, 2010, 8:49 pm

    Wow, I think you covered everything there, Tammy. Although if I tried one of those things right now, perhaps I’d come up with another idea or two? πŸ™‚

    Seriously, anything that gets my mind out of “I need to think of something fast,” mode tends to open the creative channels again. Lately, that’s been gardening or just hanging out (well, not totally hanging out, thank goodness lol) on the patio. On rainy days, clearing clutter or making homemade soup tend to do the trick.

    • Tammy May 29, 2010, 6:27 pm

      Ahhh thank you Jean and Katie. πŸ™‚

      @Jean – your patio sounds lovely. Our little apartment rocks, but we don’t have a deck and that is something I miss. But I can’t complain, there is a huge park around the corner. It’s the perfect place to hang out and relax.

  • Edward Paz May 29, 2010, 12:08 am

    Great post Tammy!

    #3 – Creating a Tumblr blog and #22 – Reading have both had a tremendous impact on my creativity.

    I appreciate YOUR commitment to the creativity within you and I look forward to future posts!


    • Tammy May 29, 2010, 6:28 pm

      Thanks Edward. I love Tumblr – it’s my new online obsession. I’ve found really amazing resources there. πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading the blog! πŸ™‚

  • Suzie May 29, 2010, 1:27 am

    If I’m completely stuck on one creative thing, then doing something very different often unblocks me. If I can’t write something, then I go and cook a meal instead. Variety is the key πŸ™‚

    I love reading. I could read all day long. It’s so good!

    • Tammy May 29, 2010, 6:29 pm

      @Suzie – thanks for stopping by. Lovely points. πŸ™‚ What are you currently reading? I’m always looking for interesting books… πŸ™‚

  • Victoria Vargas May 29, 2010, 5:34 am

    Love this post Tammy! I frequently use the “change your surroundings” approach to get my creative juices flowing. Not sure why it works, but when I shift things around at home, the creative energies start flowing free again. This weekend I’m moving my bedroom into the famy room and have to keep stopping my chores to not down writing ideas. Cool!

    • Tammy May 29, 2010, 6:35 pm

      Thanks Victoria. I’m the same way. We don’t have a lot of furniture, but it’s always fun to change the orientation of our bed, chairs and little table. πŸ™‚

  • finallygettingtoeven.com May 29, 2010, 10:48 am

    Why you should always just stop and go hug your pet (s).

  • Tammy May 29, 2010, 1:35 pm

    All of you rock! Thanks for the amazing comments.

    I’m so happy that I actually posted this little post. For something so short, it took me a really long time to write. πŸ™‚

  • Bankruptcy Ben June 6, 2010, 6:03 pm

    I need to turn off the TV that’s my problem, I hate it and yet I keep doing it. When I get home I just feel all tapped out and all i want to do is crash out on the couch. Maybe what happens between 9 and 5 is the problem, or what happens when I get home.. more stuff to think about

  • Sue July 5, 2010, 11:23 am

    Hi Tammy,

    I was looking at the definition of creativity you provided at the beginning of your article, and I think what stops most people in their tracks before they even start on a project is the “original ideas”. Individuals then start comparing themselves to some of the more iconic great thinkers or creative individuals in the world and figure they’d never measure up so why bother. There aren’t really many truly”new and original” ideas, but everybody puts their own unique spin on how they interpret information and test out those interpretations in the world, and that’s where the creativity comes in. When my muse goes MIA I pull out either a Julia Cameron or Natalie Goldberg book and just run with the first suggestion that appeals to me. I like Julia Cameron’s idea of taking yourself on an “artist’s date”–and no, you don’t actually have to do something “artsy” on your date with yourself and your inner creator/creatrix. It’s a way of feeding and honouring the muse so she’s more inclined to stick around.

    And on that note, I’m going to get myself ready to take myself out on an “artist’s date” before the day entirely slips away.

    Have a great day and a great week.

    • Tammy July 6, 2010, 8:58 am

      @Sue – thanks for the fantastic comment. I love the idea of “taking yourself on an artist’s date.” I think I might do that today. πŸ™‚ I’ll also check out Julia Cameron and Natalie Goldberg’s work. I’m sure I can learn a lot from them.

      Thanks for reading!

  • hm.evots May 24, 2011, 9:43 pm


    Some more Practices I recommend…
    * Keep away from News, they hardly ‘matters’.
    * Try to use TV as Monitor.. i.e. watching only that is YOUR choice.. ( A TV, but no Cable!)
    * Be 5 AM-er. Be late night-er. Be whole-night-er… I practice all :), randomly. But I sleep in NOON!

    STRIVE for,
    Live In Present Moment.
    -Sri Sri Ravishankar (www.artofliging.org)

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