Tag Archives: how to be more creative

3 Ways to Become a More Successful Writer

 

9025740361_f15c82d2f1_oA common misconception is that to be a successful writer you only need to learn how to write well. While improving your writing skills is important to becoming a better writer, only learning to write well does not guarantee that you’ll be a successful writer.

When I was in graduate school, several of my professors believed that you had to write everyday, even when you didn’t feel like it. If you weren’t writing everyday, then you weren’t successful.

However, I was at a party a few weeks ago, and a young writer expressed how her teachers had told her the same thing, and how she was worried because she hadn’t been able to write anything for several weeks. I told her that, that was fine. Some people are able to write everyday. Others aren’t.

I’m someone who needs breaks from writing. I’ve tried to force myself to write, when I’m not in the mood. Often, I ended up frustrated and feeling like I was a really crappy writer. For me, I need to take time to refill my creative reserves. If that means not writing for a week or two, then I’m going to do it. I know that my creativity will come back, and then I’ll be in a writing frenzy.

Those times that I’m not writing, I’m working on ways to replenish my creativity. Here are three of those ways; I hope they help you as they’ve helped me:

  1. Continue Educating Yourself

The most successful people are those who never stop learning.

People usually assume that I majored in English as an undergraduate. I didn’t. I minored in it, but my major was in Clinical Psychology. At the same time, people who only know that I work in pediatric research are shocked to learn that I have a MA in writing. They assumed that I was working toward getting my MD or PhD in biology, immunology, or some other medical-science field.

But I’m interested in a wide range of topics. Being knowledgeable in various fields builds my confidence, helps me discover and fine-tune other skills, stimulates my creativity, and helps generate creative solutions.

I’m continuously taking courses, listening to seminars, and attending conferences. Most of my courses are online. Some I pay for, while others are free. Take a look at Linda.com or edx.org , or see what types of training may be offered through your work.

  1. Read, Read, Read

Successful people study how other people became successful.

I’m constantly reading. I challenge myself to read a certain number of books each year. I keep track of the books I read, and when others look at my book lists, they’re often surprised at the diversity. I read both non-fiction and fiction, from And If I Perish: Frontline U.S. Army Nurses in World War II to Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, Book 1) to The Old Man and the Sea .

When someone tells me that they absolutely refuse to read any fiction books, I internally cringe. I’m a writer, and though I don’t write non-fiction, I still read it. Though I don’t write contemporary, I read it. Each successful book, whether literary or not, can teach us about how to become successful writers.

Look at Fifty Shades of Grey . It is not a literary book, and most people would agree that the writing is amateur and formulaic. However, the series has sold over 65 million copies, and the first book has been made into a movie, which makes the series a success. Many factors contributed to its success, including hitting the market at the right time, the main characters being modeled after Twilight’s main characters, and the age-old concept that sex sells.

I read the book because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, and I saw the movie for the same reason. Regardless of my personal opinions, I contributed to the success of both the book series and the movie, just like millions of others did.

Mixing genres, teaches us about different aspects of writing, and by studying successfully creative people, we can be inspired.

Stephen King said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

Books have the power to change our lives. Read, and discover how they’ll change yours.

  1. Hang Out with Inspiring People

People produce their best work when they are inspired by or working with others. You may be writing a novel by yourself, but it’s usually harder to be creative, when you’re not interacting with anyone else.

According to Goins, Writer, the “solitary genius” concept of writing, where creative people are isolated from the general population because they spontaneously produce creative concepts, is a myth. Goins, along with Keith Sawyer, a leading scientific expert on creativity, discussed why it takes a group to be creative. A group allows people to connect, and creates a safe place to exhibit the pressures involved with producing innovate work, as well as a way to vent our frustrations.

Hanging out with intelligent people, who challenge you, stimulates your creativity, and helps you build connections. Who knows, maybe one of those people will be your key to success.

How do you generate creativity?

(Photo courtesy of Amanda Hirsch.)

How to Swap Your Brain For a More Creative One

 

Ever have those moments when no light bulbs are going off in your mind? Maybe you have a project due or an article, or maybe you’re staring at a blank sheet of paper or canvas. You desperately need inspiration, but your muse has decided to take a vacation.7848411730_2042b607b4_o

Here are some suggestions to jumpstart your more creative side:

  1. Stop fretting and exercise.

I once had a professor tell me that if I was stuck, I should get up from my computer and walk backward around my house. She said that walking backward used a different section of the brain than sitting and writing, and that by using a different part of my brain, I might just become unstuck.

People who exercise regularly tend to be more creative than those who lead sedentary lives, a study found. Regular exercise stimulates convergent and divergent thinking, two forms of thinking vital to creativity. Convergent thinking is connected with thinking about a single solution for one issue, while divergent thinking is linked to considering various solutions for one issue.

  1. Be positive.

A good mood enables you to think more creatively. Ruby Nadler, a University of Western Ontario graduate student, said, “Generally, positive mood has been found to enhance creative problem solving and flexible yet careful thinking.”

Mood affects “the way we visually process information.” A positive mood widens how much we see and comprehend. By having a wider visual field, we have a larger pool of ideas to generate content from.

  1. Flip the problem on its head.

Focusing on a problem from a new angle inspires you to see and think about the problem differently.

In Real Simple, the idea of cars is used to describe how problem reversal revolutionized all of industry: “Take Henry Ford. In the beginning, carmakers kept the vehicle stationary and had factory workers congregate around it to install parts. Ford’s idea was to keep the workers stationary and move the car from worker to worker. Thus was born the assembly line.”

By only looking at a problem one way, you limit your ability to generate new concepts. By changing up how you look at a problem, you expand your thinking and may not only find a solution, but start off a string of new, exciting ideas.

How do you bring out your more creative side?

(Photo courtesy of MissTessmacher.)

Eating for Creativity

 

1476058071_126e420a86_oIt’s a common known fact that what we eat effects how we feel. When we feel better, we tend to be more creative, which in turn helps us to write more detailed, emotionally impactful, and original content.

So, what are some types of food that can help us to be more creative?

Fruit

Fruit, like berries and avocados, is high in an amino acid called tyrosine, which helps stimulate production of dopamine. This protein helps keep our bodies and minds in good shape.

Lorenza Colzato, a cognitive psychologist, stated, “Food rich in tyrosine and food supplements that include tyrosine are a healthy and cheap way to increase our ability to think deeply.”

Steve Jobs, the creator of Apple products, believed that his creative ingenuity resulted from the high levels of fruit he consumed. Whether or not Steve Jobs’ fruit eating habits aiding in his technical ingenuity, you should avoid becoming a fruitarian, a person who only consumes fruits, because many other foods help fuel creativity.

Chocolate

Chocolate can help increase short-term cognitive functions, according to a 2007 English study. This is due to the flavanols contained within chocolate. Flavanols can enhance oxygen levels within the brain.

Dr. Ian MacDonald stated, “Acute consumption of this particular flavanol-rich coca beverage was associated with increased gray matter flow for two to three hours.”

I’d go with more natural chocolate, such as Enjoy Life’s vegan and gluten free chocolates. They contain less processed and artificial foods, and are stunningly delicious.

Complex Carbohydrates 

While carbohydrates are yummy, and you sometimes find yourself making excusing to eat more carbohydrates, not all carbs are the same. Complex carbohydrates take longer to break down and are better regulated by the body than simple carbohydrates.

So, as much as you may like white bread, trade it for some brown rice, barley, whole grain bread, or oatmeal.

Complex carbohydrates can increase glucose within the brain, and thus stimulate the brain. This means better memory and concentration, both of which are vital to creativity.

As Dr. Arnold Scheibel said, “Your body quickly takes glucose out of the carbohydrates and feeds it to your brain to help it function.”

General Information 

Other foods that are antioxidant-rich, such as beets, yams, and dark leafy green vegetables (I’m talking about kale, swiss chard, and the like), are excellent for spikes in creativity.

The bottom line: eat foods that are less processed because more processed foods contain chemical ingredients that aren’t natural to bodily processes. And, always, eat in moderation. Chocolate is good for you, until you eat too much. It’s difficult to be creative, when you feel like you’re going to vomit.

What foods do you find help your creativity?

(Photo courtesy of Yamanaka Tamaki.)