Success in business requires an awful lot of creativity, more than almost anyone gives businessfolk credit for. Even parts of business generally considered un-creative (making sales calls, for example) can involve true artistry. As do, of course, the more obviously creative parts of business life: writing articles and whitepapers; envisioning the future; plotting out speeches to fire up the troops.
For all of these, as well as the other creative tasks in your business life, here are nine ways to get your creative brilliance flowing.
1. Take a really boring vacation. I swear by the power of boredom. Some of my life-changing innovation and business expansion ideas have come because I was stuck in a boring place with un-stimulating company. For real. (I know this is hard to plan for-it’s hard to say “I find you boring; come with me and let’s go somewhere very dull!”-but when it happens, embrace it.)
2. If that’s going too far, at least find yourself a change of scenery: go to the library, go work at your local diner, go to the beach and walk along the water (if you can walk on the water, you don’t need this article).
3. Take a break from the keyboard for a while and write in longhand. Writing with a pencil or pen seems to shake up the synapses for those of us who are used to composing at the keyboard.
4. If you do compose at the keyboard, once you finish your first draft, print it out and ponder/edit it in a physical form, i.e., on paper, marking it up by hand. Staring at a screen and editing on a keyboard is absolutely not the same as making those scratch-outs and annotations by hand. Trust me.
5. Try dictating your ideas, and even your prose. You get very different sentence structure and a different flow of ideas when you’re speaking rather than typing, and this can be absolutely liberating. Just be sure, if you’re planning to publish the results, that you copy-edit the heck out of the typos (voice-o’s?) that are inevitably part of the dictation scenario.
6. Turn off the internet. For a while.
7. Turn off your phone and look around. It’s amazing how much of the world you miss when your face is buried in a device. (Or so I’ve been told.)
8. Write things really badly the first time. Aim to do this; completely reassure the perfectionist part of your brain that they’re not needed at this stage of the project. Editing is so much easier than writing, whether it’s a business plan or a book, that making an initial start, no matter how funky that start is, is very much the challenge here.
9. Involve others. Editors, producers, and so forth can truly help you bring your genius out and get you out of your own way.