How to Be More Creative

Creativity is all about finding new ways of solving problems and approaching situations. This isn't a skill restricted to artists, musicians, writers, or "right-brained" thinkers; it is a useful skill for people from all walks of life. If you've ever wanted to boost your creativity, these tips can help.

What Is Creativity?

Creativity is the ability to come up with or recognize ideas to solve problems, communicate with others, or entertain.


Commit Yourself to Creativity

Woman sitting on a bench in front of chalk mural
Robert Deutschman / Getty Images

The first step to increasing creativity is to devote yourself to developing your creative abilities. Do not put off your efforts. Set goals, enlist the help of others, and put aside time each day to develop your skills. For example, if you are interested in painting, schedule time regularly to learn and practice your skills.


Become an Expert

One of the best ways to develop creativity is to become an expert in this area. By having a rich understanding of the topic, you will be better able to think of novel or innovative solutions to problems. One way to develop expertise is by reading about creative people and listening to them speak.


Reward Your Curiosity

One common roadblock to developing creativity is the sense that curiosity is an indulgence. Rather than reprimanding yourself for following an internet rabbit hole, reward yourself when you are curious about something. Give yourself the opportunity and the time to explore new topics.

Rewarding yourself is important, but developing intrinsic motivation is also crucial. Sometimes, the true reward of creativity is the process itself, not the product.


Take Risks

When it comes to building your creative skills, you must be willing to take risks to advance your abilities. Although your efforts may not lead to success every time, you will still be boosting your creative talents and building skills that will serve you well in the future.

For example, sharing your work in a creative writing course might feel intimidating. But the critique you receive from classmates and teachers can be invaluable.


Build Your Confidence

Insecurity in your abilities can suppress creativity, which is why it is important to build confidence. Note your progress, commend your efforts, and always be on the lookout for ways to reward your creativity.


Make Time for Creativity

You won't be able to develop your creative talents if you don't make time for them. Schedule some time each week to concentrate on some type of creative project.


Overcome a Negative Attitude

Focus on eliminating negative thoughts or self-criticisms that may impair your ability to develop strong creative skills. Recognize these as roadblocks and work to overcome them.


Fight Fear of Failure

The fear that you might make a mistake or fail in your efforts can paralyze progress. Whenever you find yourself harboring such feelings, remind yourself that mistakes are simply part of the process. While you may occasionally stumble on your path to creativity, you will eventually reach your goals.


Brainstorm New Ideas

Brainstorming is a common technique in both academic and professional settings, but it can also be a powerful tool for increasing creativity.

Start by suspending your judgment and self-criticism. Then start writing down related ideas and possible solutions. The goal is to generate as many ideas as possible in a relatively short span of time. Next, focus on clarifying and refining your ideas in order to arrive at the best possible choice.

Go Dark

As unlikely as this may seem, recent research points to dim light as a trigger for creativity. Darkness may free you from perceived constraints and encourage you to take creative risks that may seem intimidating in bright lighting.


Explore Multiple Solutions

The next time you approach a problem, try looking for a variety of solutions. Instead of simply going with the first idea you have, take the time to think of other possible ways to approach the situation. This simple activity is a great way to build both problem-solving and creative thinking skills.


Keep a Creativity Journal

Start keeping a journal to follow your creative process and track the ideas you produce. A journal is a great way to reflect back on what you have accomplished and look for other possible solutions. This journal can be used to save ideas that can later serve as future inspiration.


Use Mind Maps and Flow Charts

A mind map is a way to connect ideas and look for innovative answers to questions. Create a mind map by writing down a central topic or word. Next, link related terms or ideas around the central word. While similar to brainstorming, this technique allows for branching ideas and offers a very visual way of seeing how ideas are linked.

As you start to develop a new project, create a flow chart to track the project from start to finish. Look for various paths or sequences of events that might occur. A flow chart can help you visualize the final product, eliminate potential problems, and create unique solutions.


Challenge Yourself and Create Opportunities

Once you have developed some basic creative skills, it is important to continually challenge yourself to further advance your abilities. Look for more difficult approaches, try out new things, and avoid always returning to the same solutions you have used in the past.

In addition to challenging yourself, you also need to create your own opportunities for creativity. This might involve tackling a new project or finding new tools to use in your current projects.


Try the Six Hats Technique

The "six hats" technique involves looking at a problem from six differing perspectives. By doing this, you can produce more ideas than you might have had you only looked at the situation from one or two points of view.

  • Black hat: Use a negative perspective. Which elements of the solution won’t work?
  • Blue hat: Think broadly. What is the best overall solution?
  • Green hat: Think creatively. What are some alternative ideas?
  • Red hat: Look at the situation emotionally. What do your feelings tell you?
  • White hat: Look at the situation objectively. What are the facts?
  • Yellow hat: Use a positive perspective. Which elements of the solution will work?

Look for Inspiration

Never expect creativity to just happen. Look for new sources of inspiration that will give you fresh ideas and motivate you to generate unique answers to questions. Read a book, visit a museum, listen to your favorite music or engage in a lively debate with a friend.

Use whatever strategy or technique works best for you. Do you enjoy video games? Research indicates that playing video games can help increase your creativity.


Consider Alternative Scenarios

When approaching a problem, ask "what if..." questions to consider each possible scenario. If you take a specific approach, what will the outcome be?

By looking at these alternatives beforehand, you'll be better able to develop creative solutions to problems.


Try the Snowball Technique

Have you ever noticed how one great idea often leads directly to another? You can take advantage of this by using a "snowball technique" when you are generating ideas for a project. If an idea isn't appropriate for your current work, set it aside to work on later, or implement it in a future project.

5 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Steidle A, Werth L. Freedom from constraints: Darkness and dim illumination promote creativityJ Environ Psychol. 2013;35:67-80. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2013.05.003

  3. Tilly M. How to create a mind map (+examples). The Institute of You.

  4. De Bono E. Six Thinking Hats. Penguin, Limited.

  5. Blanco-Herrera JA, Gentile DA, Rokkum JN. Video games can increase creativity, but with caveatsCreat Res J. 2019;31(2):119-131. doi:10.1080/10400419.2019.1594524

By Kendra Cherry
Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.