Three ways to boost your creativity

lead type spelling out imagination

Where creativity comes from

Whatever your profession—or passion—it pays to be a creative thinker. And sometimes you need a little help. Here are three strategies that can change your perspective and stoke the fires of your imagination.

Think visually. As an ad writer, I inevitably start with the headline, but when words fail me, I look to more visual sources for inspiration. I’m not alone. iStockphoto has created a snapshot in time showing what creatives looked for this year (trending topics and stock house services). Not surprisingly, the most searched topic this year was medical (73%), followed closely by business and lifestyle (68% and 67% respectively). Scrolling through stock image collections, magazines and publications like Communication Arts, Archive, Print and How, visiting a museum or gallery, going to a movie, watching TV (especially shows you wouldn’t normally follow) can open your eyes to new ways of seeing—and creating.

Get rejected. Yes, rejection hurts. But it can foster creativity by forcing you to rethink your work and experiment with new approaches. According to David Burkus, who edits ldrlb (a blog on leadership and innovation), “While it is never a comfortable experience, the feelings of rejection can actually help us access our more creative selves. Free from the expectations of group norms, we can push the limits of novelty.” It also helps to change your response to rejection. Don’t take it personally and “consider the freedom you now have to explore new possibilities and less mainstream options.” Just ask Lady Gaga.

Get out of your head. When you’re stuck and chasing your own tail, take break. Learn a new skill, take up a new hobby, work out, reach out, volunteer. All these things can activate new pathways in the brain and re-set the creative process. As for me, I get some of my best ideas in zumba class.

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