13 Ways To Spark Creativity
Spark. Inspire. Create. Repeat.
Ultimately, this is a list of experiences that have sparked creativity for me. I've tried every one listed here, and each has given me a spark in some special way. I share them with you because they worked for me. It's a large list, and everyone is different. If you're drawn to specific ones, try them! If not, pass.
I will be adding to the list, until I get to 100. Post something that has sparked creativity for you in the comments section below because I will be adding them to the list. Let's get to 100!
Creativity Poll - Thank you for reading!
You visited this site because...
Books for Delving into the Mystery of Creativity - Learn more about what it takes to be creative!
I've learned a lot from the Accidental Creative Podcast as well. www.accidentalcreative.com
Maria Popova of BrainPickings.org rated this the #1 from her collection: "2013's Best Books on Writing and Creativity."
This is edited by Behance’s 99U editor-in-chief, Jocelyn Glei.
It features contributions from twenty of today’s most celebrated thinkers and doers.
Maria Popova of BrainPickings.org writes, "It delves into the secrets of this holy grail of creativity."
Sundance Film Festival
photo credit: Raffi Asdourian
Something special happens when tens of thousands of people from all around the world gather together in a remote town tucked away in the mountains to highlight and celebrate the human experience.
The first time I attended the Sundance Film Festival, I had one word to describe it: Magical. It is capable of much more than a spark. For me it was an enlightenment.
During the festival, Park City, UT is buzzing with inspiration. How can it not be, when filmakers from all around the world gather to highlight the human story through film?
photo credit: Peter Bromberg
I wake up each morning with a new thought in my inbox from Seth Godin's blog. His ideas usually require flipping the world upside down to understand. But that's good news in a world that's flipped wrong-side up.
Godin takes me further in, always challenging me to make time for nuance and context, before completely ingesting information.
I read his blog for re-direction, for re-routing all my tendencies to chase the Big Easy, and to remind me that deep inspiration comes in big, slow waves that are worth investing in.
His blog inspires me to live well and be remarkable. It may give you a spark or two as well.
Books by Seth Godin - Incredible resources for expanding your understanding of creativity and business!
Seth Godin's most popular book!
If you are a leader or want to be a leader, this is an incredible resource.
Get. This. Book.
Crossword Puzzles Spark Creativity
photo credit:Lori L. Stalteri
When I was a kid, I watched my Grandpa do the crossword puzzle everyday. I would find them scattered around his house with a few words missing here and there. Almost always I would find his ideas, or little drawings, scribbled in the margins. They represent the reason why this activity makes the list. The crossword puzzle gets the mind going.
Doing crossword puzzles as an adult, I see the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. I've had to save my fair share of crossword puzzle cut-outs, not for words in the boxes, but for the bursting ideas in the margins.
Kanye West's "All Of The Lights"
photo credit: Jason Persse
Listening to this song starts sparks for me every time. It's the Rocky Theme Song of Hip Hop for me. I picture the training scenes from Rocky IV when the synth-horns kick in, Ivan Drago on machines and Rocky all-natural.
Kanye may not be the most humble person, but he pushes the envelope, and keeps pushing. He's got that fever for wanting to be the best. That's what's pumping through this song, and into my blood when I listen. Because way down inside, I too, want to be the best.
We all have a big ego. And we'll always run into the ugly, but it doesn't mean stop moving forward. "All Of The Lights" motivates me to keep training, and to pair sparks of creativity with inspired action.
"All Of The Lights" Music Video - Kanye West
Avoid Black and White Answers
photo credit: kiwinz
When everything fits nicely in neat little packaged ways, the world gets boring real quick.
Not accepting a black and white world makes everything come alive. Sometimes, I will catch myself tidying concepts using black-and-white/cut-and-dry thinking, it almost always leads to misunderstanding.
Answers that stay black-and-white erode possibilities instead of expanding them. When you can pin down the world with a few black-and-white concepts, it get too small, and so does the meaning we draw from it.
Caption By: Adam Muller
I have several favorites on the list, and this is one. I began submitting entries to join Roger Ebert every week as he shared his own entries on his blog. He submitted every week even though some were more lackluster than others.
I started submitting entries to the New Yorker Caption Contest, but found it difficult to submit those I thought sub-par. But Roger gave me the courage to submit even the ones that were less poignant. Why? To get used to the idea that I won't be brilliant every time, and to still show up anyways. This is the best exercise I know for dismantling the perfectionist in me. It's a plain habit, but one of the best I know of. Give it a go, and you'll see what I mean :)
Sparks for your Coffee Table!
One of the best coffee table books ever!
Get an inside peek at the stuff that's been rejected, not because it's not funny, but because it isn't perhaps appropriate. :)
Take The Scenic Route
photo credit: Wouter Kiel
Avoid the desire to race home after work. Turn off the GPS, and take the scenic route. Turn the radio on, roll the windows down, and let your mind wander.
This for me, is the commuter's equivalent to taking a walk, where ideas percolate and inspiration is available. Let go of your routine route and see what thoughts and feelings come up.
photo credit: wikimedia
Dave Eggers is growing to be one of the best writers of our time. This is a magical book that follows the true story of one man's experience of Hurricane Katrina. This is not a spark, it's an enlightening.
I first read, "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" and was pulled in by the neurotic existential implosion. "Zeitoun" goes the opposite way. It reaches out and offers an exercise in empathy, and invites us to show love, honor, and care for others.
Get the Book and Spark Your Creativity! - Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
Wake Up Early
photo credit: yandle
I've gone through seasons where I will get up when it's dark, 5 or 6 a.m. when the rest of the world is still sleeping.
There is something special about being awake before everyone else is. There is a peace, and almost an openness, or invitation for creativity.
photo credit: filthfiller dotcom
What color did it feel like? What color did it sound like?
I love this type of thinking because it opens up a world of possibility. For me, "I Am The Walrus" sounds dead-yellow. England feels like grey-magic. And passion feels a pulsing-red. What colors do you hear and feel?
Ernest Hemingway "The Sun Also Rises"
photo credit: readteachblog
I first read "The Sun Also Rises" when I was 22 at Broadway Cafe in Kansas City, MO.
Hemingway's writing deflated all the fluff, and taught me to ask for brute honesty. He placed cold simple words onto his experience, too cold and simple almost on purpose, so that the truth and the complexity were forced to flex.
Hemingway also had an ego, and like Kanye, wanted to be the best. But he also was on a relentless search for the true good life. And this was the spark for me. When reading, I didn’t have to search for a pulse, his reckless search was the pulse, and I recognized the same search in my veins too.
Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
photo credit: musiclipse
In 2010, Phoenix kept popping up in my Pandora Radio. You know when you hear a song, and you have that, "Who IS this?" After three different songs caught my appeal, I bought the album.
It stayed on repeat in my car for the next 1 and 1/2 months. It's responsible for more than a few sparks :)
Get the Album and Start Listening!
An amazing album for sparking your creativity.
Start At Zero
photo credit: Tom Mooring
As an artist, it is tempting to polish and perfect all your existing work before going on to something else. Editing is not a good place to start creating.
When you start with nothing, a blank page, an empty garageband file, a blank canvas, you are at zero. The value of starting with nothing is that it forces you to go and get something. This requires effort, and effort always gives back.
Capture Snapshots of Daily Life
photo credit: Mike Baird
This spark was contributed from the talented and creative klaartje-loose. She's a fellow lensmaster and shared this spark in the comment section below. I snagged it up and added it to the list! You can check out her Purple Star Lens on this very spark for more inspiring details:
This is a great way to spark creativity! I did a little research on the interwebs and found others using this strategy to inspire creativity. I found this blog on instragram on how to host a photo contest(which I dig because the habit of contributing to the New Yorker Cartoon Contest confronts the perfectionist in me)
Start a Conversation With Your Hero
photo credit: particlem
The extremely talented Swisstoons offered this spark in the comment section below, and I think it's a tremendous addition to our list. I encourage you to drop by Swistoons profile and check some of his lenses. Here is one of my favorites that achieved a Purple Star: Humorous Announcement And Invitation Postcards. You can also check out more of his talent on his Zazzle Page!
I love this spark because it requires courage, and it calls you up. Our heroes might not all be celebrities, but to us, they are. Reaching out to them might be a little intimidating, and perhaps they might not even respond, but I think it's worth the risk.
Swisstoons is a cartoonist, and shares the story of reaching out to cartoonist Sam Gross, whom he admired. He writes below, "I didn't know Sam at the time, but wrote him a fan letter, explaining that I was an aspiring cartoonist and planned to use his book as a primer. I said, "If I am HALF as good a cartoonist as you are in a year's time, I will be delighted. Of course, at that rate, in four years, I will be twice as good." Sam wrote a nice note back (which I still have) telling me to keep at it, and in no time I would be able to draw without moving my lips."
Swisstoons goes on to say he ended up collaborating with Sam, "Five years later, I was proud to be one of the few non-New Yorker cartoonist whose work Sam chose to be in the food cartoon anthology, "All You Can Eat," which he edited for Harper & Row. In fact, he even chose my toon to adorn the back cover!"
I love it. Thank you Swisstoons for sparking it forward, and sharing your story!
Take a Walk in a Vineyard
photo credit: torbakhopper
This brilliant spark is from BarbRad, and she finds creative sparks by visiting wineries and taking walks through the vineyards. She visits wineries around where she lives near Paso Robles in the beautiful San Luis Obispo County. She writes about her trips in several lenses, and here is one of my favorites titled I Like to Explore the Back Roads of San Luis Obispo County.
This spark is priceless...and true. This one hits home for me because my wife is from San Luis Obispo and we've spent time visiting the wineries and walking the vineyards:) We also spent our honeymoon in Italy, and for part of it, rented a car in Florence and drove south through Tuscany.
BarbRad mentions that she meets some of the most interesting people when visiting wineries, and I can agree. One of my favorite memories was when we visited a small vineyard in Montalcino, responsible for some of the best reviewed Brunello wine. We nearly got lost trying to find it, but when we showed up, were invited right into their home by the owner. My wife and I (along with four kind gentlemen from South Africa) sat and listened to the owners tell their story in broken english. They were such kind and beautiful people and we couldn't help feeling grateful. We brought a bottle home with us and managed to save it until our first anniversary before opening it to celebrate.
Thank you BarbRad for sharing this amazing spark. It fits perfectly on this list:)
Taking a Shower Helps Creativity
photo credit: stevendepolo
This is the perfect spark, and I think it will resonate with many of you! It comes from fellow lensmaster BigGirlBlue! She is super-active here on Squidoo and has close to 300 lenses. Amazing. I love her Purple Star lens on writing prompts, and think you should check it out: The Write Prompts - Writing Prompts.
There is actually a science behind this spark. Leo Widrich of one of my favorite startups-gone-success, Buffer, wrote an amazing article I recommend uncovering why we have our best ideas in the shower.
Thank you BigGirlBlue! Great spark!
Make a Few Mistakes
photo credit: bkl
This is such a solid spark, and comes from the creative wisdom of Steve_Kaye. I love the personal touch he gives his lenses, and I think you will too. One of my favorites is the charming, How To Achieve Success As A Cat.
For those thinking it might be a tad masochistic to chase down mistakes just to spark a little creativity, worry no more. It takes about as much effort to find mistakes in life as it does to find weeds in a garden. How you respond when they spring up, however, makes all the difference.
It takes time to loosen the knot our culture has tied so tightly about the nature of making mistakes. Education, in America at least, is stuck on a system that mostly rewards right answers and punishes wrong ones. It's no wonder we have extraordinary fears about making mistakes.
It takes awhile (a tough while) before we're able to look at mistakes without recoiling in fear. But I am hopeful that after a little time of stretching and learning, our harsh ideas about the nature of mistakes can soften and soon be malleable enough to change. It may take some un-learning before seeing mistakes differently, but when we do, they look less like something that can destroy you and more and more like something that can ignite a spark. Thank you Steven_Kaye for such a solid addition to the list!
Go on a Walk Alone
photo credit: Pithawat Vachiramon
I identify with this spark. It's a great contribution by fellow lensmaster Upon-Request. She has TONS of lenses and I encourage you to hop on over to her page and check em' out! One of my favorites is, 25 Ways To Make The World a Better Place.
I use this spark often, and has contributed to many personal sparks. Our culture is a bit obsessed with going, going, going. It's hard to be creative when you don't have time to be. Joel Gascoigne (can you tell I love the Buffer team:) offers his journey of reaching success with his startup in the inspiring post, Dreams Come True. He highlights how taking a walk for 20 minutes in the evening (and specifically leaving his cell at home) allowed ideas to bubble up before going to bed, and ended up contributing to his dreams. Thank you Upon-Request for the spark!
Go on a Bike Ride
photo credit: Karin Dalziel
This cool spark was contributed by rking96! He joined Squidoo earlier this year and has several lenses already. Go squid-like and comment them up! My favorite has to to do with this very spark: Our Family Bike Fleet.
Exercise dumps the dopamine and that is a crucial part of what sparks creativity. For those wanting a be creative AND get some exercise in, this is perfect! So dusting off the bike in the garage just might be the thing to shake up your creative world, and cause a few inspiring sparks. Thank you rking96 for the suggestion!
photo credit: David Goehring
When sparks aren't flying, don't let it turn you into a wreck and waste all of your creative energy. The best thing you can do is move on, and don't stop the flow. One thing I've learned about creativity is it can't be controlled. When's the last time you forced yourself to have a brilliant idea? It just doesn't happen that way.
The best you can do is give it some respect, allow it to be fluid, and move on. It'll show up again. I promise. Thank you scottmccray for the spark. It's a great addition to the list!
Work By Yourself
photo credit: MindsEye_PJl
Sometimes working with others can interrupt flow. When you have to appeal to others, it splits up your energy, and reduces its power. Sometimes the situation calls for that, and it's just a part of the process. But when it comes to your personal work, when it's just you and your Muse, it can be pretty powerful. Thank you Colin323 for the great spark!
photo credit: Adam Muller
I love this spark because I DO this, AND it gives me the chance to show off Fred (he's our little guy and we adore him). This was contributed by ThingsILike! She's new to squidoo, so hop over to her page, give her a warm welcome, and congratulate her for her first lens: Baratza Encore Grinder Review - Let's Spill the Beans.
When creativity isn't sparking, take sparky on a walk! (how could i resist?) Taking a walk with your pet is a great way to get out of your headspace. It allows you to take in a bit of nature and love a little too. Dig this spark. Thank you ThingsILike!
Spark It Forward
Make sure to share something that sparks your creativity! So we can grow the list :)
What Has Sparked Your Creativity?
photo credit: Steve Jervetson
Share an experience that sparked creativity for you. I will be highlighting your suggestions and adding links to your lenses and profiles to give you some traffic as gratitude for sparking creativity for others!
Make sure to include a brief personal story too. Sparks from fellow lensmasters and visitors start at #14. Let's give squidoo an outright sparkfest! Thank you all and let's have some fun!
(you don't have to be a squidoo member to be able to comment.)