Many popular theories about creativity break the process into stages. The most mysterious of these intervals is incubation. Over the years, psychological studies and real life breakthroughs have come to suggest the best ways to use this step.
In general, creative thinking starts when you identify an issue and prepare to tackle it. Next, you hit an impasse and decide to take a break. Then, the answer comes to you while you’re taking a shower or getting up from a nap.
That productive rest period before the Eureka moment is called incubation.
Guiding Principles for Effective Incubating
Prepare carefully. This is the time to do your research and engage in critical thought. Figure out the challenge you want to solve and state it precisely.
Plan ahead. Incubation is more effective when you remind yourself that you’ll be returning to your dilemma later. Look forward to coming back feeling refreshed and full of new answers.
Slow down. Think about coming to a gradual stop rather than slamming on the brakes. Allow your body and mind to quiet down. Take a few deep breaths. Relax your neck and shoulders. Observe your thoughts without pursuing them.
Choose non-demanding activities. If you spend your break studying calculus or the Peloponnesian War, it’ll be difficult to get anything else done. Devote your time to routine tasks that require little thought.
Let your mind wander. Relax and let your thoughts flow. Free yourself from any expectations and see what happens.
Play more. Clowning around stimulates your imagination. Lighten up and have a good laugh.
Keep it brief. You may find that the results you want are already close at hand. Short breaks often work better than taking a whole day off. Take it easy for about a half hour.
Appreciate the value of sleep. REM sleep unleashes creativity in amazing ways. When you dream, you form associations and consolidate memories. You’re able to see things differently and spot new opportunities.
Practical Strategies to Encourage Incubation
Take a nap. Get work done while you sleep. You’re likely to perform better after you lie down for 15 or 20 minutes.
Keep a journal by your bed. If your day job keeps you on your feet, make the most of your overnight slumbers. Have a pen and paper handy to jot down your thoughts when you wake up in the wee hours.
Meditate daily. Meditation and sleep have similar effects on the brain. Carve out five minutes to sit down and calm your mind.
Play with kids. Cut back on weekend appointments so you can spend time goofing around with your kids. Toss a Frisbee or throw a tea party.
Get a dog. If you sometimes get too busy to remember to play, a dog will help you get back on track. They like sharing their toys.
Exercise outdoors. Connecting with nature always helps. Break out your ice skates or bathing suit depending on the season.
Develop a new hobby. Lots of great artists and scientists have engaged in pastimes that created an atmosphere conducive to their accomplishments. For example, Emily Dickinson baked cakes. You may get inspired doing needlework or repairing clocks.
Clean house. Just doing the laundry or vacuuming the living room carpet may reveal your inner talents. Find chores at work and home that keep your hands busy and your mind free.
When it comes to triggering creative insights, not all rest is created equal. If you want to boost your creativity, make time to play and harness the power of your dreams. You’ll be surprised with the incredible payoff.
If you have a career that requires creativity or you’ve ever needed a creative solution to a problem, you’re aware of how challenging it can be to be creative on command. Creativity seems to come and go with little rhyme or reason. Have you ever wished you could proactively boost your creativity? You can!
Like any other skill, the ability to increase your creativity gets better with practice and experience. Get started today and you’ll find yourself being more creative in the future.
These strategies will encourage your creativity to blossom:
Work in a new environment. It’s amazing how much a change of scenery can help! Try working in the library or a coffee shop. Rearrange your office and change the view. When you do the same things in the same place, you’ll tend to think the same thoughts.
-Turn off your autopilot and expose your senses to new stimuli.
Pretend you’re helping someone else find solutions. Many people find that they have more creative ideas when helping others solve their challenges.
-Pretend you’re helping a friend and let the ideas flow. Depersonalizing the issue seems to free up a part of the mind that’s otherwise stifled.
Brainstorm in pairs. Have you ever noticed that you and a friend or coworker find more creative ideas between the two of you rather than when brainstorming in a group? Break away from the group and pair up with just one other person.
-When a large group brainstorms, most of the group members lack a sense of accountability. It’s too easy to be passive.
Try being creative at a different time of the day. If you normally write in the morning, try the evening. Try staying up extra late or getting up extra early for a change. If you’ve been feeling stuck at 9 AM for a while, it’s time try a different hour of the day. Set your alarm clock for 3 AM and force yourself to work for 20 minutes.
Try some music. Few things can change your mood and get those creative juices flowing faster than a great song. Try different types of music and see what works. Avoid sticking to only your favorites. Branch out and listen to something new.
Meditate. Meditation is useful tool for giving your mind a well-needed break. You’ll find your thoughts start to become reenergized. Simple and elegant solutions frequently reveal themselves after a short period of meditation.
-Meditation requires a little practice, but it’s easier to learn than you may think. Meditate on your challenges and be open to the thoughts that arise.
Stay hydrated. Get a drink of water! Your body is mostly water. Even a small degree of dehydration causes all sorts of biological processes to go haywire. If you’re feeling stuck, take a minute to drink a large glass of water.
-Remember to drink throughout the day and the evening.
Go outside. Try getting outside for a little exercise. The late John Denver frequently commented that all of his best songs were written immediately after an exhilarating, outdoor activity. He frequently skied, drove racecars, and flew experimental airplanes.
-You may lack a plan, but you can still get outside and do something stimulating!
Creativity doesn’t automatically happen on command. There are times when creativity is needed, but it’s nowhere to be found. Add these tips to your creativity pool the next time you’re feeling uninspired. If one strategy fails to yield the results you desire, try another. With practice, you can learn to unleash your creativity on demand.
Everyone has the ability to be creative - including you!
Once you learn how to unleash your inner creativity, you'll be able to tap into it, no matter what else is going on in your life. You might even be amazed at what you're really capable of!
Discovering your inner creativity begins with looking inside yourself. The idea of "looking within" might seem foreign or even silly, but it's really not as crazy as it sounds! There are many successful people who understand the benefit of turning inward for inspiration, happiness, and decision-making. You may not always profit from your creativity. In fact, more often than not, your ingenuity will only benefit you and your family, and that's okay!
Your creativity can still bring you great joy and happiness! Some people write, draw, compose music, build sculptures, or paint. There are plenty of creative pursuits for you to explore and enjoy. Even redecorating your house, revitalizing your wardrobe, or experimenting in the kitchen can be a creative outlet for you. After all, someone has to try new things, or the world would never change. So let that person be you!
Tips to Focus on Your Inner Creativity
If you haven't given much thought to your inner creativity, getting started can be the hardest part.
Here are some things to think about:
• What do you do for a living?
• What are your hobbies?
• What would you do if you could do anything?
• Who would you be if you weren't worried about the judgment of others?
Ask yourself these questions - especially the last two - openly and honestly, and discover your answers. You just might be astonished about what you find out about yourself.
Perhaps it's time to take that hobby and turn it into a living. Maybe it's time to shake off the idea of living for others and begin to live for yourself. Today is a new day to be creative, and a new day to touch the hearts and minds of others with what you have to offer the world.
Are you worthy or capable? Of course you are! Let your inner creativity come pouring out.
Once you've started to discover your creativity, practice and experiment with it:
• Make it a point to be creative every day.
• Try new ways to do things, even routine chores.
• Seek creative solutions to your challenges at work and home.
• Any time you do something differently or see something from a new perspective, you're flexing your creativity.
Continue your exploration by branching out into entirely new hobbies and activities that help you in your pursuit of original creativity. Try expressing yourself in music, dance, writing, painting, or even crafts or woodworking.
There are people who simply don't like change. You might even know some of them. As your inner creativity comes out, these people may not support you. That's okay, because it's not their life to live. It's not their race to run. Focus on what you feel in your heart and surround yourself with those who do support you.
Getting support from others can make a huge difference, but either way, you must be your own #1 fan! The best support comes from within, not from what others think is right or wrong for your life.
Using your creativity will inspire you to do even more with your life. You can't possibly imagine where your creativity can take you if you just let it out and enjoy it. It doesn't have to be perfect - and you don't have to be perfect - to bring great joy to yourself and to the world around you.