This 9-point checklist will make you more creative

Hanging lights

Everyone has creativity within them.

Sometimes, it’s our environment that makes it more difficult.

And the stories we tell ourselves.

I’ve had periods in my life when creativity has been effortless. For example, I’ve twice challenged myself to write 24 stories in 24 hours for charity.

There have been other times it’s felt like wading through treacle.

Here are nine things that have worked for me. I hope they help you too:

  • Cut down on outside noise 

Apart from some sporting events, I don’t watch any TV.

There’s so much news, opinion, gossip etc. around us that it can feel overwhelming.

Because of my job, I take creativity very seriously. And having less outside stimulus has helped me keep my mind clear and focused.

I’m only active on LinkedIn. More on that later.

I’m not a preacher, but this has worked for me in conjunction with the other points below.

You could try it and see how it goes.

  • Use your spare time wisely

I don’t have much spare time outside of running The Hidden Voices and enjoying time with my family.

Part two is to cut down outside noise by replacing it with something more positive.

The idea for The Hidden Voices came to me in nature.

I go out for walks whenever I can, usually on the beach or up a local hill.

Why? Because this gives me time and clarity to think or not to think. Lots of people attest to the fact they have their best ideas when they’re not trying to come up with anything.

I worked in a job once where my boss often put me on the spot in meetings as ‘the ideas guy’. I was never at my most creative like that.

  • Open your ears

Creative inspiration is everywhere. I wrote an article on small business marketing after hearing a skylark singing in a nature reserve.

I enjoy creative writing and was inspired to write a series of plays on loneliness after a chance conversation with someone in the street.

If you commute to work by train, you may recognise my type as one of the few people without earphones. Instead, I like to observe what’s happening around me as fully as possible because it often sparks an idea.

  • Understand yourself and your routine

This one took me a while to develop. Unfortunately, I’m not at my creative best in the mornings.

I’ve found that my best ideas come when I feel calm and focused on the present moment. For me, this is outdoors.

If you’re managing a team and want to schedule a brainstorming meeting, it’s worth thinking about the venue and time of day for this.

When you’re working alone, trying to cram a creative hour into a busy day of calls or after you’ve just caught up with a dozen emails may not get you the best results.

  • Don’t put pressure on yourself

Let’s say you’ve set aside some time on a Friday afternoon to think about a piece of content or a new campaign. If the ideas don’t come, go and do something else.

Trying to force creativity, like in the example of the meeting I gave above, is never a good idea.

I’ve seen people get frustrated (including myself) when things don’t flow as they expect.

  • Could you keep it simple?

I write blogs and post on LinkedIn. Of course, I could be on every social platform, creating new posts or repurposing ideas for them all. I choose not to because I want to protect my creativity.

When you’re tight on time and budget, you can reap the rewards by focusing on one creative outlet and doing it well. That’s usually wherever your target audience is hanging out online.

I love writing, but you might prefer recording videos for YouTube or speaking on podcasts.

  • Learn from others

As the saying goes, “there’s nothing new under the sun.” So, when I’m talking about creativity, it’s not the case of trying to be unique every time.

As mentioned at the start, I wouldn’t recommend trying to get inspiration by consuming too much external content.

Taking a streamlined approach has worked for me. For example, many brilliant creative minds on LinkedIn share their thoughts and expertise every day.

I use that as inspiration. It helps me get clear about what makes me and The Hidden Voices unique and how I can share more content that inspires others.

I often stop on a post that resonates with me, and I take a few minutes to think about why. Usually, that will give me a few ideas I want to explore further.

  • Tap into your hidden voice

Have you ever read something on a blog or social media and disagreed with it?

Did you do anything about it or just let it stew for a bit? (we’ve all done it!)

Part of finding your hidden voice and being more confident comes down to stepping out from the shadows.

I’m not suggesting you let rip in an expletive-laden rant in response. However, you can think about how you can be measured and creative in your reply.

For example, suppose a competitor shares information that’s giving your industry a bad name. In that case, you could flip that around and create a series of positive myth-busting articles or short videos to gain trust.

  • Use analogies in your writing

As a copywriter for many years, I’ve been asked to write about all kinds of things. There have been times when I’ve struggled to think of a creative way to bring a complex topic to life for a target audience with little understanding.

Analogies are a great way of doing this and letting your creativity come out.

Here’s an example of this in action. Which do you prefer?

  • A detailed guide to better engagement on LinkedIn
  • 7 reasons why LinkedIn engagement is like decorating your new home.

Don’t be afraid to have a bit of fun!

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