“Your mind is like a parachute. It only works when it’s open.”, Frank Zappa once said. And he was right: creative thinking is only possible if you allow yourself to think outside the box! However, getting to that desired place called ‘outside the box’ can be challenging for some of us. Fortunately, there are a lot of strategies that can help your creative brain reach this destination. As game developers, we are constantly involved in creative thinking. These are some of the psychological tricks that help us kickstart our own creativity!
What exactly is creativity? And why are there people for whom thinking out of the box is their second nature, whilst others struggle to be creative? We absolutely cannot process all the information that comes at us, so we focus on what is important using a filter. For some people, this filter is wider than in others, which allows them to be more creative.
But which factors influence this filter? This has to do with genetics. Some are born with a genetic background that makes them very creative. This is the result of small differences in the DNA. We all have the same genes, but within those genes, the building blocks are a little bit different. We call it polymorphism, and this leads to some people being more creative than others. However, for the small-filtered people, there are ways to tickle your prefrontal cortex and stimulate creativity!
Trick #1: Change your environment
New information and stimuli are essential for encouraging creativity. By changing environments you gain new impulses and your brain gets new information to process. This also applies to exchanging thoughts and ideas with someone from a different discipline! We stimulate our own talent to grab a coffee with a colleague from another discipline once in a while.
Trick #2: Do absolutely nothing
Being bored to death? How long has it been since you’ve experienced that? These days, it’s almost impossible to bore yourself. You probably end up scrolling through Instagram or decide to watch a series on Netflix. However, this doesn’t stimulate your creativity (that much). Instead, do absolutely nothing for a change. Turn off your devices, don’t listen to music, don’t do anything. Just sit and be alone with your thoughts. Sounds pretty scary, but you’ll see that everything that’s wandering around in your head will start to mix together and new connections will emerge. That’s where great ideas are born!
Trick #3: Get moving
Exercising – or just even a short walk – can bring up to 60% more creativity. Moving causes more blood to flow to your brain, therefore increasing oxygen uptake. During exercise, substances are released that make the cells communicate better and the connections between them become stronger!
Trick #4: Just start
Creativity can be a process that doesn’t come naturally. However, the art of sparking creativity is often a matter of just starting. Don’t hold yourself back, take that first step! Even if that means writing only one sentence, drawing only one line or only dipping your brush in the paint once. It is important to get the flow of creativity going. You can always edit, re-write or modify later!
Trick #5: Creative honesty
Creative honesty and vulnerability are essential to the act of stimulating the creative process. Much like not being honest with ourselves when we create, if we do not make ourselves vulnerable in sharing our work, then we are not being our best creative selves. Share your work with others! When it comes to creative honesty, the following should also be considered. When it comes to fiction and creativity, writers (for example) tend to use made-up stories to tell a human truth. However, you should make your story’s world – no matter how outlandish – feel real to readers.
Before getting creative, keep in mind…
… Your parachute might not be as big as Salvador Dali’s. However, creativity certainly is a process you can stimulate! And remember, being creative doesn’t come easy to anyone. The greatest artists, inventors and pioneers put a lot of time and energy into their idea, constantly refining it and, above all, daring to fall flat on their face!
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