We all have creativity within us just like we all have muscles. And like a muscle, you have to work your creativity to build it. If you get into the habit of thinking creatively, it becomes easier until eventually, when you find yourself in a situation where you need to think of ideas quickly, you will be able to with ease.
Because the rational side of your brain is more forgiving first thing in the morning, you have more room for creativity at this time of the day than any other. Like Alice in Wonderland said, “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
By working your creativity muscle every morning, you’ll not only tone and expand your creative capacity, but you’ll also build an idea bank you can have on hand. To help you do that, today I’m going to share a tool with you that’s like CrossFit for your creative mind; it will help you build your creative muscles and make using those muscles feel like second nature.
Part 1 – Do Every Morning
- Complete your morning ritual, whatever that means for you, starting the day in an intentional way. Take time to tune yourself to the day through prayer, movement, meditation, freewriting, and/or enjoying your morning cup of tea or coffee.
- Once you’ve taken time to wake up and tune in, and before you start any tasks for the day, write down three to five unique, imaginative ideas. These aren’t to-do list items; it doesn’t matter what they’re about or if you will even follow through on them. Think simply of the guidance from Wonderland—“impossible things”—and don’t limit yourself at all. They can be ideas to help someone, to surprise your friends, to do a random act of kindness; they can be ideas for your garden, for your business, or for someone else’s business; they can be ideas about trips you could take, stories you could write, movies to watch, routines to start, or recipes to cook. Again, it doesn’t matter what you write about—this tool is about working the creativity muscle when your mind is fresh and hasn’t been clouded by the day yet.
Part 2 – Do Every Weekend
Think of this part of the exercise like a weekend brunch type of tool—something you’d do on a leisurely Saturday or Sunday or whenever you have a bit more time to spend with your journal.
- Think of a story from your life. It could be recent, or it could be from years ago or from childhood; it could be funny or ludicrous, or it could be dramatic and serious.
- Write it out, just as if you were to tell it to a friend. Simply write what happened. Transcribe it the same way you would speak it, using as much detail and description as you can. If you can’t remember all the details, simply make some up—you have full creative license.
- Great! Now you have a rough draft for your story. Go back through and underline things that weren’t interesting, and make notes of how you could replace them. Perhaps you make a twist ending or add in a new character, and really shake up the entire trajectory of the story. This is your time to use your imagination—let it run wild.
- Set a timer for 10 minutes, and rewrite the same story with all your imaginative add-ins from Step 3. Pretend you’re a professional writer composing your story for The New Yorker (in fact you might as well submit it—what’s the harm?) and really get into it. Just have a blast allowing your creativity to flow, perhaps for the first time in years. Use this tool whenever you need a little creative-writing boot camp.
Now it’s your turn: Share in a comment below what you think of these exercises, a great (creative) idea you had today, or any questions you have about getting creative. We’d love to hear from you.
And remember, having fun is the key to creativity!