10 ways to jumpstart your creativity

When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them I'm a creative professional. But what does that mean? What does a creative professional do? Simple. We create. Unfortunately, being creative isn't always easy. Sometimes we need a little extra help with igniting the spark. 

Over the years, I've learned a few tricks to help with this. So here are 10 ways to turn your downtime into creative time.

01. Stop trying to be perfect

One of the biggest killers of creativity is perfectionism. Random pro-tip #235: Stop trying to be perfect, and allow your creative side to be messy, unpredictable and just a little bit off.

When you worry about how things will turn out, you crush your creativity. For example, a writer may spend precious time and energy writing one perfect sentence while missing the opportunity to write the other dozen or so rattling around in their head. Go with the flow; you can always go back and touch things up later.

02. Daydream

Remember your fifth grade teacher? The one who cracked a ruler against your desk, and commanded you to stop daydreaming and get back to work? Well, thankfully, she's no longer the boss of you, and daydreaming isn't something to be avoided.

Daydreaming might feel a little odd – and unproductive – at first, but don't let that stop you. Take your cue from Calvin & Hobbes and step inside your Transmogrifier! There's a whole world waiting for you to breathe life into it.

Need a little help? Here's something to get you started:

Imagine the chair you're sitting on is bolted to the floor of a rocket ship – and you're the captain. Your job is simple. Fly your ship across the galaxy and save the inhabitants of the planet Snee.

Wait? What? You're not into space? No problem. Try this one:

Look out the window and imagine the world is filled with zombies and you're humanity's last hope. If that's too narcissistic for you, just pretend you're one of the zombies looking for your next meal. Mmmm… brains!

03. Go for a walk

A quick walk around the block can kickstart your creativity

A quick walk around the block can kickstart your creativity

If you're able to walk during your work day, do it. Walking – or any physical movement for that matter – is a great way to turn the wheels in that big beautiful brain of yours. While you're at it, try to combine physical movement with another activity, like daydreaming.

I like to combine my zombie daydreams with walking. Zombies, Run! is the perfect app for that. Not only does it provide awesome zombie entertainment, it also tracks my progress. I use it, and I love every minute (er, mile) of it.

04. People watch

People watching is a great way for writers to help develop their characters, but it's also a great way to get the creative sparks flying.

Here's what you do… Make up back stories for the people you're watching. If you see an older couple sitting on a park bench, imagine what events led them to this meeting. Have they known each other long? Did they just meet? What are they discussing? Maybe they're aliens? Don't hold back. Be creative. If you happen to be with someone, bounce your ideas off one another and take turns with the story.

05. Walk the Web

The internet is a big place filled with endless amounts of content. From Pinterest to Instagram, Twitter to Facebook, and everything in between, the internet has so much to offer.

There are so many talented and creative people in this world. Take a look around to see what they're creating. Just be careful not to stray too far or you may find yourself in that weird place on YouTube (again!) – whoops!

Next page: five more ways to boost your creativity

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Tammy Coron

Tammy is an independent creative professional, author of Apple Game Frameworks and Technologies, and the maker behind the AdventureGameKit – a custom SpriteKit framework for building point and click adventure games. As an innovative problem solver and industry leader, Tammy enjoys working on projects from content creation – including books, tutorials, videos, and podcasts – to the design and development of cross-platform applications and games. For Creative Bloq, she has written about an array of subjects, including animation, web design and character design.