Five ways to get out of a slump and boost your creativity

Usually, you are a brilliant sort who can come up with solid ideas just by willing them into existence.  Normally, you are a font of creativity, with the gift of awe-inspiring insight and seminal thinking, and a well-earned reputation as the go-to problem-solver.  You are never at a loss for words, and you never lose the capacity for clear, unpolluted thought.

But, uh-oh… what happens when you suddenly find yourself in a mental slump that temporarily drains you of your creative powers, and leaves you stranded down here with us mere mortals?

Well, science has a solution for this, with five ways to boost your creativity, whether for a project, a paper, or just life’s daily problems.

Dr. Adam Green, Director of the Georgetown Laboratory for Relational Cognition and President-elect of the Society for the Neuroscience of Creativity, has outlined these methods:

1.  Exercise creativity like a muscle

You must TRY to be creative!  “Creativity isn’t made out of a magical fairy part of the brain,” Dr. Green says. “It’s essentially using all the same tools that go into doing everything else … but applying those tools in creativity-specific ways.”  The most important variable in the creative process is in the trying itself.  Dr. Green notes that when “(brain) cells fire together, (they) wire together.” He notes that “the idea is that the more you use your brain to do something, the stronger the connections between the cells involved.”

2. Change your surroundings

Dr. Green notes that creativity impulses can come from even very small changes – even something as small as a refreshed cup of coffee or different colors in the room can have a positive effect.  Changing around some of the things you take for granted in your routine can help, such as rearranging the items on your desk or re-posting things on your bulletin board.  You could even try changing some of your social routines and acquaintances.  Just move yourself around a bit!

3. Learn new things

“New ideas come from interconnections among old ideas,” Drawing from other practitioners, Dr. Green holds that introducing new bits of knowledge can stimulate your creative self – you can hardly rely on stale thinking to produce something new! So, take a course in a new subject, meet someone new, challenge your most treasured beliefs by exploring opposing views.  Dig into the unknown – it could become known, and your friend, on your own terms.

4. Record the new ideas that come to you

When you have an idea, write it down and preserve it.  Keep a notepad with you.  Keep a notepad by your bed; you will be surprised how many ideas come to you before and after you sleep, and even when you dream.  Never miss a chance to record an idea, no matter when it occurs.  Creativity can occur at any time!

5. Always challenge yourself

Are you convinced that you will be forever satisfied with the way you think?  Well then, you’re screwed, and this article will be of no value to you.  However, if you’re willing to take a look at issues in a new light (even if you disagree with them), then you might derive value from your open-mindedness.  Let others challenge you, and don’t be quick to take offense.  Listen critically, evaluate honestly and without prejudice. Remember, you may not be the special gift to creativity you imagined yourself at the beginning!


Beyond this, try brainstorming with others from time to time.  After all, genius that you are, others may be just as smart as you.  Play games: How do I cure cancer this week?  How can we achieve world peace? How can we make dogs and cats live together peacefully?  These questions and other bits of silliness, though probably unattainable this month, might get those veggie-smoothie-soaked brain cells a-sparkin’ once again!

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