5 Effective Ways to Prevent Your Creativity From Flatlining
Perhaps you started writing online because you wanted a career change. Or you dreamed of being an entrepreneur. Maybe you wanted to make a name for yourself as a thought leader or an influencer. Whatever your reasons, the more you read, the more you realize everyone seems to be rehashing the same thing with the same lukewarm enthusiasm to feed algorithms.
It’s depressing. Your creativity has evaporated, you haven’t had an idea in months, and you’re contemplating the demise of your writing career, be it as a hobbyist or as a pro.
But you love writing, don’t you? Relax, here are five easy ways to supercharge your creativity:
#1 — cultivate a grasshopper mind
Be curious about everything. Diversify your reading and your news sources to get a broader understanding of how other humans do human. Curiosity is the only way to future-proof yourself if you plan to keep on writing. With a little observation, research, and thinking, anything can be material. For example, find out why people who disagree with you think the way they do or show others why they should care about something that matters to you.
The internet is a self-replenishing smorgasbord of content catering to all human interests, no matter how bizarre. When was the last time you tumbled down a rabbit hole, one click at a time, and found out about proclivities, pursuits, and passions you never knew existed?
What did you learn, what emotions did your discoveries stir up in you, and how might that be relevant to someone else?
#2 — adopt a different perspective
As Walt Whitman wrote, we are large, we contain multitudes. Every single one of us wears several hats in our daily life but we often limit ourselves to one when we write. For example, I’m a human, I’m a daughter, I’m a partner, I’m an immigrant, I’m an expat, I’m a vegan, I’m a freelancer, I’m an American, I’m an ailurophile, I’m a European.
Why not make your own list so you never have another uninspired day again? When you begin looking at the world through different lenses, it’s impossible to run out of ideas. Start by revisiting an old piece from a different perspective and see where it takes you…
Writing is a way of inviting others to join us on a personal and political journey we would prefer not to undertake alone.
#3 — step out of your comfort zone
What are those things you wish you could write about but don’t trust yourself to? Get clear about what’s stopping you then try and circumvent your fears in print. For example, you might want to share some insights about sex but you’re afraid of sounding clinical, cheap, or both.
Would using humor help you deliver your message in a way that aligns with your editorial values? Would you feel more confident tackling the topic from an advocacy standpoint by using research? Do you have the lexicon necessary to producing sticky sexy content that surprises and delights?
Stretching yourself editorially is the only way to level up but you should go into it with an open mind and the willingness to fail.
#4 — embrace a different genre
The more diverse your reading, the more intrigued you might become in other forms of writing. I used to rage against listicles until the day writing one helped me pull through a depressive episode and organize my thoughts. While it isn’t a format I turn to often, it’s a powerful way to organize information, get a message across, and give readers a shot in the arm.
Unlike the op-ed or the essay, the format is ideal to share instructions, tips, and advice. Although frequently misused and weaponized, a good listicle is helpful and it’s easy enough to put together, unlike poetry. Poetry is the anti-essay, pithy to a fault, and every line takes hours, days, and weeks to polish. It’s the most awkward and yet most rewarding kind of writing I do, albeit a rare occurrence because it remains a foreign language to me.
Some genres like the listicle lend themselves to instant adoption, others like poetry are a disposition, not a format.
#5 — start a movement
This is where the internet goes from meh to magical as your idea turns into innumerable iterations that grow tendrils with each new read. While I’m not sure the experiential listicle will ever be a thing, poets sometimes create new forms that spread like wildfire.
As an example, consider the tritriplicata experiment (tree-tree? try-try? tree-try? try-tree?), a catchily named yet unpronounceable poetic form created by Arjan Tupan, at least until you listen to the super short podcast associated with it. One poet dreams up a form, they share it, other poets try it, and suddenly there’s a movement and a show inspired by the poets’ kids and art that wasn’t there before.
As host and poet Arjan explains, sharing our views of the world is how we expand our horizons.
Creativity is a muscle, nurture it and it will grow:
- cultivate a grasshopper mind
- adopt a different perspective
- step out of your comfort zone
- embrace a different genre
- start a movement
By giving us a platform, the internet has democratized creativity: Anyone with a good idea can make something noteworthy and show it.
Now what are you waiting for?
I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor now based in the Netherlands. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.