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5 Easy Ways to Boost Creative Flow

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 2/03/2016 Michelle Hart
CREATIVE © Marek Uliasz via Getty Images CREATIVE

You wake up feeling great. You're ready to meet the day head on, finish your latest project and put your work out into the world with a smile. You get ready for the day, sit down to work, and then... nothing.
Your mind is blank.
No ideas. No sparks of creative genius. Nothing at all.
You're experiencing a creative block.
We've all been there. And there's nothing more frustrating for someone who's making a living by creating, because if you're not creating, you risk your livelihood (and your bank account!) going stagnant.
Fear not, Shiny One. A creative block isn't the end of the world. Take a deep breath, tell yourself everything is okay, and then take action to get that marvelous imagination of yours flowing like a majestic river.
Start with these five easy ways to boost creative flow:
1. Morning Pages: Morning Pages are three pages of longhand writing done as soon as you wake up. (I like to use this yellow loose leaf paper -- the kind we learned to write cursive on in grade school -- because it feels special.)
Every day, you grab your pen and three blank pieces of paper. You take all of your worries, your frustrations, your fixation on what you should have said to that sexy guy who said 'hello' to you in the produce section at the grocery store last week, and you put them on the page. Errands to run, project ideas, questions to ask your branding consultant also go on the page.
The point is to give all of the random stuff floating around in your head a place to go so you don't have to think about it anymore. And like magic, you've made space to create.
2. Daydream: Gone are the days when you have to worry about getting in trouble for daydreaming in class. (Don't try tell me I'm the only one, y'all.) Some of the most influential, inventive people in the world credit their creations to daydreaming.
The basis for Einstein's Theory of Relativity came to him while daydreaming about space as he rode around on his bicycle.
And J.K. Rowling was fired from her job as a secretary because she was repeatedly caught daydreaming and scribbling secret notes about a teenage wizard when she should have been working.
Why does daydreaming help with the creative process? We tend to daydream when we're in relaxed and in a good mood. When our brain flips into "idle" mode during a daydream, we start connecting previously unrelated ideas, recall pieces of forgotten memories, and become more aware of the beauty in metaphors.
The next time you're feeling stuck on a creative project, give yourself permission to kick back, relax and lose yourself in a daydream. (Just keep a notebook nearby to capture your "A-ha!" moments!)
3. Fuel Your Creative Fire: Inspiration is the foundation of creation. When you're struggling to form ideas turn your focus gathering inspiration from other sources.
Reading fiction, watching TV or movies, and listening to music (particularly downtempo EDM and epic movie score playlists) help shift my brain into creation mode.
Another great trick is to create something in an unfamiliar way. If you're a novelist, try painting your story on a canvas. If you're a graphic designer, try writing a song that evokes the feeling you want your art to convey. If you're musician, try composing a gourmet meal.
Pay attention to the way all creation is connected on a deeper level, and you'll begin to see the creative possibilities in everything you do.
4. Seek Out New Experiences: New experiences provide a fresh perspective on the world around you, which is vital to creative growth. But you don't have to climb Everest, go skydiving or travel to the desert for an ayahuasca trip to open your mind.
Something as simple as taking a different route to the store, or working in a new coffee shop, or going to an event you wouldn't normally attend can serve as the little spark of contrast your brain needs to formulate new ideas.
5. Cultivate A Habit Of Creation: You can try every trick in the book to boost your creative flow, but none of that matters if you don't actually take time to create. Setting aside a specific time every day to work on your craft will train your mind to enter a state of flow more easily.
Figure out your most creative times of day, and do your best to protect those times from unexpected intrusions. I tried to discipline myself into a "write-first-thing-in-the-morning" habit, but that didn't last long. I'm at my most productive in the afternoons and late evenings, so I decided to make that my writing time.
Now I schedule my workouts, errands, social media and planning time in the mornings, then dedicate an hour after lunch to writing, no matter what. Most days, I write much longer. And there are some days, like when I'm sick, where I may only get 200 words on the page in that hour. But knowing that hour is there, that it's my time to create, makes all the difference in the world.
Bonus points for adding the element of ritual -- like drinking coffee out of a favorite mug, repeating an affirmation about your creative genius, or putting on a specific playlist at the beginning of your scheduled time. These familiar behaviors signal your brain that it's time to switch into creation mode and make things happen.

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