7 Ways To Turbocharge Your Creativity
Christian writers don’t wait for the Muse to provide creativity. The idea of a Muse is a pagan concept which involves an outside voice speaking to you, giving you ideas that supposedly spur your creativity.
The Christian concept is just the opposite. Christians have the Holy Spirit within them and he speaks through them. There is no need to look outside yourself for creativity. Like the writers of old, the Holy Spirit within triggers the creative impulse.
Here are 7 ways to turbocharge your creativity:
1. Start with prayer. God is not just above you in heaven. He is omnipresent, which means he is everywhere, including in your mind and the fabric of your being. You want to ask God to settle your mind and give you focus and concentration. You want to ask him to give you clarity of thought. You want to ask him to bless readers though you. Claim Habakkuk 2:2 for yourself: “Write the vision; make it plain with your word processor, so readers will benefit from it.” Please excuse the creative license I took in paraphrasing the verse, but the truth of it remains.
2. Have a plan. Many writers believe they can “noodle it.” They don’t use an outline and they hope they will have a surge of creativity when they need it. People who “noodle it” often complain of a mystical malady called “writer’s block.” Only people who don’t plan their work have that problem. On the other hand, writers who outline their book are never at a loss about what to write. If they lack immediate ideas for a section, they just move on to another one.
3. Experiment with your writing environment. There has been a long-running debate about whether a person is more creative when they listen to music or write in silence. Limited research shows that listening to Mozart (the so-called “Mozart Effect“) enhances creativity, and that other music is detrimental. Other research indicates it is not music that aids creativity, but the volume of sound around a person. According to researchers, 70 db of ambient sound enhances creativity, while anything over 85 db diminishes it. That bracket of ambient sound volume is why it is best to have a radio or TV playing in the next room, or going to a Starbucks. The right level of ambient sound will enhance your creativity, not block it.
4. Capture random ideas. I believe that creativity happens on purpose. It is like agreeing to meet a friend at a restaurant. You make an appointment and you both appear as planned. However, you may randomly meet your friend in a restaurant. You didn’t know the other person was going to be there, but you were happy to see them. That’s the way it is with random ideas. They appear in unexpected places at unexpected times, and you must capture them. Chance meetings with ideas will enhance your writing. That’s why you always want to capture them. Don’t trust your memory; instead, carry a small pad and write them down. It’s a great idea to keep a pen a pad on your nightstand too. Valuable random ideas often come when we are in that altered state of consciousness we call sleep.
5. Don’t slow the flow of your writing. It’s a wonderful thing to get into a writing groove. The ideas flood your mind–you are not editing them as you write–and your creativity is at a peak. You want to remain in this creative bubble and let the words flow. Then, you start to think about a statement you just wrote. “Is the Empire State Building really 1,454 feet tall?” You think you should stop and look it up. Don’t do it! Place a marker (I use brackets so I can search for it) and do fact-checking later. Avoid the temptation to break your creative flow to check facts, look at email or Facebook, or anything else. You maximize your creativity when you stay in the zone.
6. Write the end of your chapter or book first. There is an old saying: “No wind is favorable to a ship without a port.” With no direction, aimlessness will dull your creativity. That’s why many writers start by writing the last paragraph of each section or chapter, or the entire last chapter. Those closing ideas provide direction which accelerate creativity. You write toward the ending as you expect it to be. What happens if the ending is not congruent with everything else? No, problem, just rewrite the summary paragraphs or final chapter. In the meantime it will serve as a useful beacon to empower your creativity.
7. Read more books. Nothing will spur your creativity more than reading widely. Reading is like shoveling coal into a locomotive hotbox and it will drive your creativity forward. Christian authors must read outside their genre to stay fresh. With a reading program in place, you will get ideas about structure and content, and pick up tips about how to handle narrative and dialog. Don’t dissect every book you read, but slow down and absorb any genius you may encounter along the way. Finding time to read is often as hard as finding time to write. I have a regimen and I make a point to read 20 pages a day. Less than 20 minutes per day adds up to 25-30 books per year.
You can turbocharge your creativity by using these seven ideas. Don’t make the mistake of thinking creativity is a scarce commodity. Ideas are sprouting everywhere, and you can harvest all you want.