Five ways to ignite your creative superpower

7 September 2017

Amy Brimble

creative
adjective

relating to or involving the use of the imagination or original ideas to create something.
“change unleashes people’s creative energy”

“Just be creative” three very popular words in our industry. We’d all love a CREATIVE key on our keyboards or a switch next to the lights you can just flick on in the morning. It got me wondering, can you just be creative or can it be learned? Is it possible for us all to hold the creative superpower?

I have met some extremely creative people throughout my career and the best ones are those that are open-minded. It seems to ooze out of them like jam out of a doughnut. They have a willingness to take risks and seem to turn things on their head in order to get a different perspective.

At school I was always more interested in arts and crafts than maths and English. I would much rather sketch a portrait of my maths teacher in my notebook than work out an algebra equation. I find it hard not to walk down the aisle of a supermarket without being seduced by a beautiful piece of packaging and I feel utter rage at hideous direct mail (before slam dunking it into my recycle bin). So, I guess I’d class myself as being one of the ‘creative’ types, yes.

20 something years on from school and I’m still enjoying being creative and I’m lucky enough to be immersed in a creative environment with like-minded, clever people and be able to trust my creative instinct every day.

Here at Stitch there is a bucket load of creative superpower running through our veins. It’s not just our brilliant designers that hold this power, it’s the whole team. Whether it’s our supersonic Account Managers or captivating Consultants, we all have a part to play and everyone adds some form of creativity into the mix. We are innovative and love inspiring our clients. We dive into their world, listen, understand and then climb back out with a clever strategy and passion for delivering an engaging campaign. We encourage our team and others around us to be creative and to keep thinking differently. It’s definitely the Stitch way.

So the question is, are we born with creativity in our blood? Is it something we acquire or something we embody? I believe that everyone has a creative side in some shape or form; some brains are naturally more inclined towards creative ideation than others, whilst some are more expressive than others. All brains have a marvellous ability to continually change and develop and I believe you can exercise your brain and teach yourself to think outside the box, to think more laterally than vertically. Perhaps it’s just a case of tapping into the creative half of your brain and developing it.

Neuroscientists used to believe that your brain was fully formed by early adulthood and there was nothing you could do to change it. But that conventional wisdom has been overturned in recent years. Studies show that the brain is actually ‘neuroplastic,’ which simply means that it is continually shaped and moulded by experiences – even well into old age. Great news for all of us hey?

I can’t promise you’ll be the brains behind the next Coke campaign, but take a look at my five top tips for boosting creative superpower. If nothing else, they may help you transform your next PowerPoint presentation!

1. Shake things up

I don’t mean shake your head around like your old mosh pit days! (although slam on some Slipknot and that would be fun). Your brain looks for easy, familiar answers based on past experiences, so it’s pretty hard for the brain to break out of old thinking patterns and generate new ideas on demand. If you find yourself sitting at your desk and commanding your brain to fill the well without doing anything to prime the pump, you probably need to change your strategy.

A distraction may be just the thing you need. It gives your mind a break and hopefully creativity will follow. Good to know our office mid-morning catch up on the ‘Bake Off’ is not in vain! Try going for a walk and take in new surroundings, go to places outside your comfort zone – an exhibition or unfamiliar part of town, for instance. Allow your brain to see new things and form a different perspective. We are creatures of habit and do things repetitively, like bangers and mash for dinner on a Tuesday evening! But once you stop walking around with your blinkers on, you’ll be amazed at how many other things you’ll notice that will make you think differently.

2. Start doodling – even if you can’t draw

Contrary to belief that doodling shows a lack of focus, it can actually stop your mind from drifting and help you remain present and engaged during an activity. Research in neuroscience, psychology and design has recently demonstrated that people that doodle are often better at grasping new concepts and staying focused. In another study on doodling, individuals who kept their brain active through doodling whilst listening to lists, were able to recall the lists 29% better than participants who did not. Doodling activates new neurological pathways and improves recall, leading to new cognitive breakthroughs and insights. So, start doodling and see where it takes you!

Even Steve Jobs and Nikola Tesla relied on doodling to kick start creativity!

3. Never stop consuming!

A shocking statistic shows that a quarter of British adults never read books for their own enjoyment and on a survey carried out amongst 2,059 adults, 26% said they actually didn’t enjoy reading very much!

Many, many studies have been conducted on the health and psychological benefits of reading books. If you read the long list of results, you may go away thinking that reading is some sort of wonder drug that makes us think smarter and healthier. Well you wouldn’t be far wrong!

Reading stimulates and exercises the mind. It makes you think, fantasise and use your imagination, therefore making you think more creatively. It boosts confidence and makes you a better communicator. You have to comprehend ideas and reasoning and like any exercise, the more you train the better you will get.

Choose a book on a topic that you like (could even be about your favourite sport or musician) and spend 30 minutes a day reading, flexing those mind muscles. Mim, one of our Account Managers here at Stitch loves to read books about war, so it doesn’t necessarily need to be a Bridget Jones novel!

Not into reading? There are other things you can do to stimulate your mind. Any form of consumption of information is great and you’re much more likely to take it in if you enjoy the subject. I often struggle finding time to read, so have recently discovered audio books, preferably a thriller. Perfect when I’m driving or out walking (but not after dark)!

4. A break from the norm

Do something you have never ever done before in your life. If you’re feeling really brave then try scuba diving, go abseiling or even sign up for salsa classes. The experience of it may be enough to boost your creativity tenfold and give you a boat load of new ideas. You could just try being a bit more spontaneous, get off your bus one stop before your usual one, eat vegan for a week or drive home a different way and see where it takes you.

However, if the thought of that makes you feel giddy, then worry not – even changing the way you make your usual sandwich can help boost your creative superpower!

5. Fuel your brain power

The delicious little purple balls better known as blueberries, are indeed one of the best foods for you. They are said to be the richest in anti-oxidants and possibly the best brain food on earth. They have been linked to reduced risk for Alzheimer’s, can improve your thinking abilities and your motor skills. Studies have shown that mice fed blueberries navigated mazes more easily!

Fortunately, we’re a relatively food obsessed bunch and in swapping recipes and always having office fruit (plenty of blueberries!) on hand, we’re always sure to be charging our creative superpowers as best we can.

 

So, there we have it folks, I think it’s fair to say you can improve your brain’s ability to think creatively by simply providing the proper stimulation and opening your mind. Creativity is of course subjective and you may never be THE most creative human on the planet, but the aim is to get your brain churning, thinking about ideas and being inspired. I’m sure you will come up with some pretty bad ideas too, you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t, but embrace the suck! This is how we keep on learning and pushing ourselves. It’s all about challenging yourself and allowing yourself the opportunities to boost your creative superpower.