Five Traits Shared By Creativity Geniuses

‘Creativity is a learnable, trainable skill’

No matter your field, creativity is important.

In fact, the most sought-after skill CEOs look for when hiring new talent is creativity and innovation, according to a PWC survey.

Whether you’re an artist, a corporate exec or lead volunteer at a local charity, creativity is your tool to solve problems, think outside of the box and create meaningful things, whether the “thing” you’re creating is a song, a painting or a business plan.

Daniel DiPiazza, founder of Rich20Something, an education platform that teaches millennials how to build businesses they care about, says, “creativity isn’t some esoteric quality that only the Bob Marleys and Salvador Dalís of the world possess—it’s a learnable, trainable skill that can be honed into a process.”

Exploring the daily processes of creative people can help you strengthen and use your creative muscle. Below are a few tricks of the trade that Pablo Picasso, Albert Einstein, Stephen King and others adopted to fuel their creativity.

1) Observe

There’s inspiration all around you and you never know what will spark your next great idea. So pay attention as life unfolds around you. Keep a notebook and pen with you to jot down ideas as they come to you.

Many of the best ideas tend to come to when we’re driving to work, walking the dog or falling asleep, just when we feel we’re mentally checking out.

Our advice: Write it down. You will likely forget and that gem will be lost.

2) Creativity every day

In Stephen King’s book, On Writing, he encourages aspiring authors to write every day. That doesn’t mean every word you write will be published, but at least the act of creating something every day keeps your mind focused on your project.

“I like to get ten pages a day, which amounts to 2,000 words. That’s 180,000 words over a three-month span, a goodish length for a book,” King writes.

His process has resulted in 61 published books.

Having a creative routine will exercise your brain just like going to the gym exercises your body. So whether you decide to write, draw, paint or photograph every day, commit to creating a little something every day that puts you that much closer to your goal.

3) Get outside your comfort zone

Sure, routinely dedicating time to create is important. But just as important is setting aside time to engage in new activities.

Caitlin McCabe, founder of Real Bullets Branding, says when she wants to jog her creativity, she consumes media totally outside of her field of marketing.

“If I’m at the airport, maybe I’ll pick up a magazine about farming or architecture. I’ll watch a documentary about a subject I don’t know much about or go see an experimental play. Listen to a random Pandora channel in a genre you usually don’t listen to. I think ideas tend to slow down when you get into a rut with the things you see every day. Even taking a different route on a walk can help a lot!”

Maybe take a salsa class or try a challenging recipe. Activities like this provides an opportunity for your mind to take on a new challenge and think creatively to overcome it.

Aaron Nadler cooks salmon for "family meal" - creativity
Aaron Nadler cooks salmon for “family meal,” a regular gathering with his neighbors that’s all about trying out new, challenging recipes. [Photo by Haley Bouffard]

4) Get outdoors

When you hit that dreaded creativity block, or to avoid it, take time to spend some time with nature. The fresh air, the green around you, the sounds of the birds… all of this are a great change of scenario for your brain. Your stress levels will go down, your brain function will increase and you’ll feel a lot better overall.

There’s something magical about the outdoors’ ability to declutter and refocus our minds. Step out and take advantage of it.

5) Break the rules

Last but not least, don’t be afraid of taking risks! Doing so, moving away from conventional techniques or concepts, means you’re creating something completely new and isn’t that what art is all about?

Every artist has a different creative process. Experiment with these suggestions to find what works best for you.

Oh, and one extra tip: Remember to give yourself a break! Spending hours trying to produce something when the ideas aren’t flowing will only exhaust you. Instead, take that time to let your brain rest. Trust us, you’ll come back stronger than ever the next day.

Alright, time to create.

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