Learn how to cultivate your creative genius with these tips and tools.
There are so many ways you can express your experiences of the world. You can dance, you can paint, you can sing, you can play instruments, you can tell stories! However, at first there may need to be an unlocking that takes place, if indeed you feel creatively stunted, or unable to be expressive.
SoulPancake offers a number of exercises in their book, SoulPancake: Chew on Life’s Big Questions. Like these acting exercises:
- The ‘As If’ exercise – ‘Walk around the space as if walking through water.’ Or, ‘Eat food as if you’re a monkey.’
- ‘The Sexy Nostril’ exercise – Make a list of body parts, choose a paired body part and adjective, create a character based on this.
- Over 90 other exercises for blasting off your creative freedoms.
And, check out these 19 daily habits of artists to help you unlock your creative genius.
Not quite ready to dive into a form of expression? That’s okay. Consider a few ideas and practices around your unique sense of expression and how to make it your own.
The Whole Brain
People say that if you’re a ‘left-brain oriented person’ you’re more pragmatic and analytical, and if you’re a ‘right-brain oriented person’, then you’re more creative and free-thinking. This has in fact been debunked. Your ability to express yourself is not predetermined from birth. Creativity is a muscle. Expression takes time and experience. Imaginative ideas might follow a logical set of steps in order to present themselves to the world. Some of the most genius and abstract ideas about our world have come from the most pragmatic minds of our time, like Einstein, Darwin, Freud, and Mozart. Creativity requires us to use our whole brain.
Knowledge is Everything
“We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers.” – Carl Sagan
Question everything. Critically think about the world and input around you. Together with breadth of knowledge, practice your depth of knowledge (a deep understanding of an acute topic). And also practice horizontal knowledge (a broad sweep of comprehension with multiple topics). Be willing to listen, process and question new ideas you encounter. Try opening up to others’ opinions, think critically, offer feedback, and seek higher understanding of the world around you.
Break It Yourself
“You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.” ― Neil Gaiman
Find moments in your day to schedule in breaks to let your mind wander. When we do so, we are more inclined to keep working on something even if we may not be making any progress, according to the Harvard Business Review. It’s incredibly important to take breaks in order to help your brain reframe whatever you’re working on if you get stuck. Try to set timers on 30 minutes of “deep work” and take a 5-minute break for your eyes and limbs.
SoulPancake offers a motherload of ways to unlock your inner creativity, and generally increase your happiness, like sustaining 4 minutes of eye contact, or actively expressing gratitude. Consider buying the book, and chew on a few of the following questions on your breaks to let your mind wander free!
What does it mean to be you?
What paralyzes your creativity?
What fuels it?
Read, Write, Repeat
There’s an element of learning that’s involved in expression. You can learn from how others express themselves. If you’re a writer, learning about word usage, tone and flow in a paragraph can help you find your voice. Keep a dictionary and thesaurus on your desk and learn 4-5 new words a day. Repeat them in your conversations even if others don’t know what you mean. A single word may help to express a feeling or emotion better than any sentence you could come up with.
Writing letters to others and even yourself in a journal can help you to express how you’re experiencing the world. Keep a journal and write for 5-10 minutes before you go to sleep. It helps to slow things down and be more deliberate with your words. In turn, your relationships with others will be more deliberate and your speech will be more intentional. By focusing your written form of expression, your spoken words will become more refined and directed with awareness.
A World of Play
The next time you’re around children, possibly your own or a friend’s, notice how they play. Robin Williams showed us through his comedy and improvisation that the world was open for us to play in. Now, some people might say that they’ve lost their once-held childish imagination, but others utilize it daily to tap into a sense of creative expression. There is a natural power of imagination and genius that children hold when they play and pretend. When we were children, we created imaginary worlds and challenged ourselves on the playground with our friends. That behavior helped develop us into problem-solvers, manifesting creativity and rewarding curiosity.
Allow for your mind to wander. Turn off the phone and take a walk downtown or through the woods. Explore. Daydream. Take a journal and doodle. Write a poem. If you don’t know how to, make it up! Keep a journal by your side when you get flashes of creative genius and expression. Write it down. Workshop the idea. Your mind is full of possibility and imagination. Let it run wild.
“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old. They grow old because they stop pursuing their dreams.” – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Play is beneficial to our well-being, relationships, and the world. Dr. Stuart Brown, Founder of the National Institute for Play, offers his research and work on how play impacts human nature.
Expression, in its bare bones form, is directly linked with play. When we paint, we play with color. When we express ourselves through song, we play around with lyrics, chords and/or our voices. Physical comedy has always been one of the utmost playful forms of expression. Improv comedy has even been a helpful antidote to anxiety for many.
Actor and comedian Rowan Atkinson, best known for his role as Mr. Bean and for his sketch comedy show “Not The Nine O’Clock News” is quite possibly one of the greatest physical comedians of all time. He embodies a character so that the expressions from his face create an attitude which makes the character the punchline of the joke.
Playful expression comes in many forms. Visit our section on play and explore how humans are expressing themselves in the world.