How do you practice creativity

Creativity can be learned! Obstacles, ideas and tips

And? Not creative enough again? While everyone is queuing up with super creative concepts on Facebook and the conferences, you will find your own texts lame, the concepts bloodless and your presentations sleep-inducing. We can now change that quickly!

Reality check in advance

Let's start by adjusting your perception. There are two things you should definitely know before you feel uncreative - and for that reason alone you cannot become more creative.

Is that awesome, creative posting on Facebook really creative?

Or has someone found a twist that keeps coming back? An idea like “Will it blend” is brilliant - but has only been repeated since then. Or check out “Preppy Kitchen” on Facebook. And a “Yes we can” was sensational - but has only been “adapted” since then. Anyone who finally looks through the "creative" winners of the countless content marketing prizes of the online marketing rock stars will find above all - well implemented - but mediocre ideas. I mean: The creatives are not sooooooo creative at all. So relax and enjoy your creative moments - even if they seem small to you.

Behind every good idea there are 1,000 attempts that have been "shot down".

Really good advertisers are characterized by the fact that they can conjure up an almost inexhaustible reservoir of good and bad thoughts on a topic - and do not feel hurt when the realists "shoot" 1,000 of them for them. In the end, exactly one idea wins. Note: Those who cling to their ideas (out of fear, pride, vanity) are no longer creative. You are most successful when you enjoy the journey rather than the result.

And anyway: Behind “creativity” there is a lot more manual work, tough choices and a great deal of self-confidence than you can see from the outside. So don't scold yourself for being un-creative or crave more creativity. But do it ;-)

Trust yourself - and some tools. And they're coming now.


What stands in our way in the creative process

It's irritating what keeps us from being creative. If you look at the points, you can see some contradictions:

  • Critical evaluation of ideas: It is particularly bad when we evaluate our ideas rationally. Because our caretaker in the head is merciless and clears away everything that does not meet the norm. So we either have to take this cleaner off or be much faster than him.
  • Fear of failure: While we have adrenaline and testosterone in our blood, our thinking is limited and very focused. This is useful when we are about to escape a saber-toothed tiger or are driving 150 mph on the highway. However, this is unfavorable for new ideas. E: Only when we are free of fear and anger, our brains are flooded with serotonin or oxitocin and our thinking becomes broad, dreamy and creative.
  • Lack of exercise or routine: We work well and focused 40 hours a week - and then, from now on, a creative fireworks display is expected from us. We then have, let's say, 26 minutes and 30 seconds, because then the next meeting is due. It can't work that way. Note: Our creative flame is tender and we have to learn to deal with it. For that we need - yes, exactly - “creative routine”.
  • Well-worn thought patterns: A typical piece of advice is, "Just think 'out of the box'". What nonsense. Because of course we function in our job because we are efficient and, hopefully, effective. We programmed ourselves to be adapted and goal-focused - to be successful. But creativity is the result of mental chaos. You have to bring that together first ...
  • Lack of talent? In any case, this is NOT a reason for a lack of creativity. In my seminars, I constantly see how great creatives are hiding in the gray boring people who are popping out the best ideas. Believe me: lack of talent is an excuse, not a condition!

Well, that all sounds trickier than it is. Because it is precisely these points that show that with the right attitude, a little freedom and a little practice everyone can be creative. Let's go!


Practice creativity - the tools

Here are a few exercises you can do to improve your creativity. It's probably not a good idea to use all of the exercises and tools at the same time. “More” is not “better”. Pick what you like best and pick what is most uncomfortable for you. And then start with exactly these two exercises.

Artist meeting

Many years ago I read Julia Cameron's book “The Artist's Way”. To be honest, I didn't like it that much because I don't like mixing spirituality and creativity. But the exercise with the artists' meeting gave me a lot of fun and new insights. It's so easy: Make an appointment every week (!) For at least two hours (!) Just with you (!) For an unusual (!) Activity.

My first artists' meeting took place in a country library, then I was in Lost Places and on empty construction sites. It is really only essential that you devote this time to yourself, undertake this "adventure" on your own and also do things that are not everyday.

The benefits to your creativity are clear, right? This allows you to think outside the box and do so without being disturbed.

Write automatically

My favorite exercise (as all participants in my seminars know) is writing by hand with a stopwatch. Thats is quite easy: You will need a notebook, a pen (yes, no laptop, please) and a timer. You set it to ten minutes and write down as much as possible for just as long. Ideally, what is on your mind. Forget the spelling and grammar, don't believe that there will be a meaningful result afterwards. Just write.

This is particularly helpful if you do it every day for two or three weeks at first. With it you train your writing muscle, with which you can free thoughts from the subconscious. Then you can give yourself a topic for such a writing session or write until you are “empty”. But be careful, that can take an hour or two ... (more on this here).

Brainstorming (but alone please)

Do you remember the last brainstorming session in the group? Was that really helpful? Did everyone really speak up? And weren't they all ideas that everyone just wanted to shine with? Yes, it is often like that. Since all group pressures and fears are much stronger than usual when brainstorming together, the result (see above) is usually not particularly illuminating.

If you want to avoid this, then do your brainstorming on your own. Take your time - a little too much - (maybe 30 minutes) and write down everything you can think of on a topic. Make sketches, curl up words, use colored pencils to help. Just do it. Try to make sure that you don't judge your ideas and words! Save yourself the logical evaluation of the content for afterwards. There is still enough time for that.

If you still want to work in a team, I recommend “brainwriting” - which I recently described in my blog.

It's better with the mind map

Instead of a lonely brainstorming session (see above), I love mind maps - only digital, of course. Because these can be expanded, reassigned and maybe even exported afterwards. I love MindMeister - but it's estimated that there are 1,000 similar or even better tools for it.

Perhaps a thought about the duration of the brainstoming: Try to write down as many points as possible in a session and put them in the right place right away. The faster and - yes - the more unstructured you go, the more creative the result. And, as I said: you still have time afterwards for a reasonable sorting and evaluation. Therefore: Follow every thought as long as possible and write it down in the mind map. And if none comes, wait for the next one.

Only then do you sleep over it and look at it with your otherwise usual, critical look.

List power

The readers of my posts sometimes wonder that I can't seem to write a single article that doesn't contain at least one or two bullet lists, bullet lists, or top lists. (see this post here). This is because of the way I approach an article: I first write down what I want to say at the beginning, what could be in the conclusion, and then sort my thoughts in lists. At first I just write down the keywords and make the list as long as possible. After all, I want to write substantial articles.

And then I keep feeling the power of lists: If you start to visibly enumerate things in a list and give yourself a little time to do so, the result will always (!) Be much more than if you start writing straight away. I have no idea why: But when we write lists, we humans almost always come from stick to stick. And because sticks are much more concrete and interesting than the branches, the overall result is more colorful, diverse and creative.

Lock up your best ideas!

You know it: In the early morning - you are still in bed - you have a great idea for solving a problem: “Ah, this could work that way”, you think to yourself. And no sooner have you got to the office than you want to implement the idea. But she's gone! Path! Goodbye forever! How annoying.

I love Evernote, always have a notebook (which I am currently practicing bullet journaling with) in my backpack and collect notes in my wallet. If there is an idea, I have to write it down. And since jotting down an idea has become as normal for me as brushing my teeth in the morning, this flight of ideas happens to me at least less often ...

There is one advantage in jotting down ideas quickly: You don't chew them soft and mushy! Here, too, it applies that an idea is first of all a good (!) Thought. You can always sort it out later.

Practice, practice, practice

Creativity is not the inspiration of a higher power but a muscle that can be trained. Use every opportunity to be creative. For example, when writing e-mails or start telling the things you have to tell a little more imaginatively. Find metaphors and comparisons when trying to explain something to someone. And with Netflix series, think about what would happen if you were the director.

I love Habit Based Goals, goals that don't overwhelm you and where you know the rough direction and take it in triple steps. In this sense, if you want to be more creative, you could plan to do something creative for ten minutes (!) Every day: write an email, come up with a story, write it automatically. Here are a few more tips for doing exercises.


You do all of this - but it doesn't work?

Have you just waved it off because you've tried everything (or at least a lot) - but it still doesn't work? You have been practicing “automatic writing” for weeks - but the result is just blah blah? You make mind maps - but they only contain banal, boring stuff? Well then there are two opposing strategies:

  • First: Carry on, hold out, until the creative valley is crossed and the creative fetters burst.
  • Secondly: Stop trying something else - because one of them didn't work.

The trouble is: Both pieces of advice go in exactly opposite directions - but both can be right. So what to do if you have a write inhibition again and are faced with the tricky question: “Continue or try something else”?

Here comes my recommendation:

  1. Take a mental step back and look at your problem like a consultant. Take a look at what your client (i.e. you) has recently done to finally come up with a creative solution, a great campaign idea or an approach to content marketing.
  2. How does it feel to you What would you advise yourself to do: keep going or change your strategy?
  3. If you don't have a feeling for it yet, flip a coin or let chance decide otherwise. After that, we almost always know whether we like the result or not.
  4. And now: do the opposite!

In earnest: Exactly when you really want to try a new method and finally want to try something completely different - you are in an incredibly creative mood and should continue. You are close to it then! And, on the other hand: If you have really got used to the tool and you are exactly where you want to go with it - you need a rift through the comfort zone.

It hurts a little. But be honest with yourself, endure this tension - and enjoy the result!


Creativity is always breaking rules. Act accordingly! ;-)


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