Feeling like you don’t have any good ideas lately?

It’s almost like there’s a block... but instead of pulling back and giving yourself some space to figure it out, you’re pushing harder...and yet...the ideas just don’t seem to be rolling around.

Ideas require creative thinking. If you aren’t building on your skills or utilizing this muscle then, of course, it won’t work when you snap your fingers.

Is there actually a muscle that’s linked to creative thinking?

Yup! But it isn’t just one.

The frontal cortex (short-term memory), our hippocampus (memories and experiences), the basal ganglia (memory of skills) and white matter (connector between our brain matter) are all responsible for our creative thought process.

"Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while" — Steve Jobs

Naturally, if we’re wanting to improve our creative process, it’s a good idea to try and focus on techniques that you can do every day.

Not only is flexing your creativity muscle going to benefit your brand or business, it’s also proven to help relieve stress, energize you, keep your emotions in check (as it’s a form of therapy), increase your empathy towards others and increase your brain plasticity - which means that the communication between the different parts of your brain will improve.

What is creativity?

It’s a subjective field, meaning that there’s actually no way to measure creativity. Everyone’s opinion differs when it comes to gauging creativity. Someone may adore your idea, while someone else thinks that it’s a complete waste of time.

A painter might not see copywriting as creative, for example.

Because it’s so opinion-based, scientists have come to term creativity as ‘the ability to produce something both original and that is valuable to someone else’.

The creative process:

These are the steps of the creative process as defined by social psychologist, Graham Wallas:

  1. Discover and Listen: This is the step where you begin to reflect on creative things that you’ve done in the past so that you can prepare to use your creativity in a new way.
  2. Design and create: If you’ve been working on the project for a while, now would be the time to step back and completely cease thinking about it. Ideas may come in the most unexpected places.
  3. Develop and Implement: This is where you’re going to come back to the task and you’ll probably find that the new ideas which have come to you during the previous stage will fit quite perfectly into your original plan or make it that much better.
  4. Deploy and Deliver: Now is the time to test your creation and if it doesn’t work, repeat the creative process again.

To become more creative and have the ability to come up with exciting and new ideas, we need to flex our creative muscle regularly. Here's a really great exercise you can start doing to get those creative juices flowing.

James Altuchers Idea Machine exercise!

Every day (or every other day), pick a topic, subject or question and come up with 10 ideas around it. In the beginning, 10 ideas can be really hard to reach, but over time, it becomes easier because your creativity improves!

So for example.

Today I’m going to write down 10 ideas of how I can earn an income online.

1. Website building

2. Freelance writing

3. Influencer deals

4. Blog post promoting an affiliate product

5. Social media consultant for small businesses

6. Travel tours

7. Ecommerce store selling travel products

8. Life coach

9. Social media advertising for businesses

10. Live Marketing workshops

The next day I’m going to write down 10 random ideas for a new pet product.

There are no specific topics you need to focus on. In fact, the weirder you get, the more you have to flex your creativity.

James says that you can easily write 4-5 ideas, but at number 6 is when your brain starts to sweat and just like any exercise routine, your muscles don’t start to build until you break a sweat. If you feel like you can’t write 10, then write 20 because you’re obviously putting way to much pressure on yourself and “perfectionism is the enemy of the idea muscle”.

Sit back, and look at your ideas each time. Is there anything there you can use to start or better your business?

One time when Nathan did this exercise, he came up with the idea to create, Behind Closed Doors, which eventually led to Wired Creatives!

This is such a simple yet effective daily activity that will help you become more innovative and creative in whatever it is you are working on!

Some other things that will automatically increase your creative flow are:

1. Exercise

Get your body moving. Neuroscientist, Wendy Suzuki says that “in addition to its stress-reducing, mind-focusing, productivity-inducing, and memory-enhancing properties, there seems to be some evidence supporting the idea that exercise could help make us more creative. Exercise seems to help people come up with new ideas, which many researchers use as a proxy for thinking creatively.”

2. Change of Scenery

Staring at the same blank wall every day isn’t very inspiring. Shift your work space if you can or just get out and about to see something different. When it comes to creativity, we are often inspired by something unexpected. As mentioned before, inspiration just comes to us, and you’re giving yourself more opportunity of that happening if you aren’t hyper-focused on a routine that doesn’t allow for new experiences.

You may even meet someone when you’re in a different space that will become a key contributor to your business. This is why the rise of co-working spaces has become so huge.

3. Nature

Nothing is as inspiring as nature! Travel, go on a hike, lay on the grass and look up at the clouds. It’s important to give your brain downtime. Five proven ways in which spending time in nature can boost your creativity:

  • Helps to inspire you by propelling you into a time-abundance mindset. Stanford University conducted a study which proved that when you spend time in nature, you experience a natural shift in time and so instead of feeling pressured by a lack of time, you begin to feel like you have a multitude of time.
  • Boosts your memory.
  • Helps you overcome creative blocks.
  • Increases your brain function by reducing fatigue and boosting energy levels.
  • Improves your mental health.

By using any of these techniques, it’s a surefire way to improve your creative muscle and get those ideas flowing.

We would love to hear your feedback and if you managed to become a little more creative after using this guide!