Some days you might overflow with incredible thoughts and ideas, and other days you don’t know where your inspiration went. Generating ideas nonstop is challenging enough, but what do you do when you don’t know how to practically apply your creativity?
Each person functions uniquely with their strengths and weaknesses. Psychologist Howard Gardner shows people can fall into eight different kinds of intelligence, ranging from bodily-kinesthetic to naturalistic. And in a similar way, you experience creativity differently than the next person.
What fuels your ideas and your application of them includes more than your smarts — it includes your emotions, spontaneity and even deliberate actions. So, to understand the types of creativity, check out the following ways inspiration can hit and what steps you can take to maximize your ideas.
1. Subconscious Creativity
Another psychologist, Arne Dietrich, developed a system for understanding human creativity. Out of his four ways to categorize creativity, this one is an “A-ha” moment. Whenever you take a step back from work and let your brain have a break, you find a moment of clarity.
Maybe you can’t decide how to complete a challenging project for work, but you go home to sleep on it. And in the middle of the night, you wake up and realize what you should do — that’s your flash of insight. Surprisingly, your subconscious can be useful when you’re sleepy and not alert.
With a burst of creativity like this, it’s hard to understand how to prompt such a moment of spontaneity. But allowing your brain to rest for a minute can help you get ideas flowing. When you feel blocked, go for a lunch break or grab a cup of coffee to let your subconscious get to work.
2. Art-Inspired Creativity
From music to painting, art stimulates your senses and can help you get a fresh perspective. When you’re tapping into your emotions through artistic activity, it can spark an idea in an instant. This type of creativity seems like a profound revelation — almost like an epiphany.
You might be having a slow and unmotivated day, but when you’re driving home and your favorite song comes on the radio, it re-energizes you. Or, you rearrange the decorations on your desk in an appealing way, and you feel like your behavior is on task afterward. That might be the influence of art at work.
Try to channel your passion by introducing art into your day. You can pop in headphones and play some instrumental tunes to boost your productivity. Or let your imagination advance your work by taking some time to view paintings or even doodle in a notebook yourself.
3. Reflective Creativity
After a mishap in your life, you can wrack your brain about what went wrong, and sometimes you can’t come up with any helpful realizations. But other times, your reflection leads to a greater sense of self-awareness, which can affect your future actions.
Whether you made a mistake on an assignment or run into financial trouble, you might be able to trace your steps and thoughts to decide what to do differently next time.
To deliberately guide your creative thinking, pull out a journal and assess your situation. What was your reasoning at the time? How can you learn from this scenario?
4. Cognitive Creativity
A focused and analytical approach to creativity can be practical for logical thinkers. Just like Thomas Edison and his repeated attempts to perfect the light bulb, you might also need to sift through solutions until you reach the right result. This hands-on strategy can help you take control of a situation with a deliberate mindset.
Do you use trial and error in your work? You might make connections and discover new options by mapping out your process. The knowledge and skill you already have at work can inform your ideas and cause your creativity to thrive.
Review what you already know about the subject you’re dealing with so you can get your cognitive and creative juices flowing. Consider your experiences to effectively shape your ideas.
Channel Your Mode of Creativity
Once you know what sparks creative processes, you can try new ways to inspire yourself and boost your imagination. You can solve problems and brainstorm with better results in these types of creativity.
Incorporate your emotions, skill and spontaneity into your routine in these helpful ways.
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