The 3-step formula to maximising your creativity
By Shifa Sarguru, SOCIATE’s Copywriting Intern
When we think of the creative process, we imagine an artist sitting in front of a blank canvas, staring into nothingness waiting to be inspired. This version of creativity is pretty romanticised and far from the truth.
Creativity is a muscle. For it to work, you need to consistently use it.
Artistic expression is not confined to writers, painters, musicians and entrepreneurs. As Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic, rightly points out, “If you’re alive, you’re a creative person.”
The secret to creativity: Flow
“Flow” is a term coined by Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who describes it as a state of consciousness where a person is fully immersed in an activity that time may seem distorted to them.
A music composer that Mihaly interviewed for his research admitted that, on a good day while composing, he sometimes forgets everything else other than the work he is doing and it feels as though his hand is moving by itself.
Our nervous system can only process about 110 bits of information per second, explains Mihaly. That is why, in the flow state, our brain is mentally occupied to the point that we tend to forget our own existence and are unable to understand that our body is moving.
“Technically, flow is defined as an optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best”, as described by Steven Kotler in his article Enhancing Creativity with Flow.
The 3-step formula to entering and achieving flow
Introduce novelty: It’s all about using rewards to accomplish your goals. I remember, as a child, unpacking new oil pastels urged me to grab a sketchbook and start colouring. This excitement is the easiest way to trigger your flow state.
Novelty could be a change in your environment – whether it’s working on your project in a new cafe or even in the living room rather than in your study. Or it could be changing your working hours. What works best for you? The early morning or late at night. Creating the ideal environment to tap into your flow state does not have to be a grand gesture but a small act of change. It’s about sparking your inspiration.
Restrict yourself: Another way to enter the flow state is to cut down the amount of time spent thinking creatively by half. Challenge yourself to complete your brainstorming sessions quicker. Giving yourself time constraints means maintaining focus for a shorter period.
Minimise distractions in all forms. If you cannot resist checking your phone, it’s best to keep it out of your room or with someone else. Use a site-blocking extension to prevent yourself from mindless browsing. Or you could follow my approach of using the classic pen and paper combo to jot down your ideas.
Recharge your mind: Staying stuck in a creative rut is a sign of burnout. Perhaps what is stopping you from being creative is the lack of a good break? By allowing yourself to step away from work, you allot time to be inspired.
Rid your surroundings of everything work-related and shift your focus to something else. In order to create, we need to observe. A good writer is first and foremost, an avid reader. Surround yourself and consume quality work in the form of newsletters, blog posts, songs, books, articles, art, conversations, podcasts and videos.
Inspiration usually comes from the places we least expect. Keep up with SOCIATE Sofa for your weekly dose of inspiration. To give your communications strategy a refreshing dose of creativity, get in touch with us at [email protected]