Are you stuck in a creative rut? Do you need an idea – now – but nothing’s coming? Don’t worry, your creativity is still there. Your brain is just taking a little “creativity catnap.” Here are a few ways to wake it up again and get those creative juices flowing.

1. Read an article. [You: “About what?” Me: “About anything!” You: “Huh?” Me: “Stay with me; I’ll explain.”] Pick up a newspaper or a magazine. Turn to an article. Any article. It really doesn’t matter. Start reading-but with this question in the forefront of your mind: How does this article apply to my current situation? (And here we’re talking about the situation that you want some creative help with.) Here again, it doesn’t really matter what answers you come up with. The point of this little exercise is to force your brain into its natural creative space by making it come up with non-obvious connections. The purpose isn’t so much to come up with a great creative answer to the question; rather, it’s to wake your brain up from its catnap and put it back into its creative state.

2. Phone a friend. Sometimes a little conversational stimulation can shake things up just enough to get the creative ideas started. You can use this short chat (ten minutes is a good length to shoot for) as a mini-brainstorming session where you ask your friend for ideas (even if their ideas aren’t all that great, they may spark something inside you), or just talk about anything else. It’s an easy way of breaking the “I can’t come up with a creative idea” pattern that you’re in.

3. Take a walk. This is similar to number 2 up there. When you’re stuck in a creative rut, one of the best things you can do is take a 15-20 minute walk. Ideally, you’d take this walk outdoors in a natural, green setting (the color green has been shown to spur creativity), but really, almost any place will work. Taking a walk helps your creativity in two ways (and that’s in addition to the health benefits!). First, it gives you (and your brain) a change of location, which, again, is a great way of breaking a mental pattern. Second, as you’re walking, you’re pumping more oxygen into your brain. This is good. Brains like oxygen. When you feed your brain oxygen, it feeds you-ideas!

4. Travel through time and space. Okay, this one may sound a little weird, but a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that when a creative task is portrayed as originating from a far rather than close location (with regard to both time and/or place), people tend to come up with more creative responses. In other words, imagine solving your problem or coming up with your idea in Paris in 1910, or Hong Kong in 2050.

5. Pick up a pen. Step away from the computer and find yourself a pad of paper instead. Sometimes the physical act of writing by hand can stimulate the brain to start getting creative. Even if your handwriting is atrocious (as is mine!), there’s something about the sheer physicality of it that engages the brain in a different way than simply typing on a keyboard.

So there you have it! Five quick ways to get your creative juices flowing. Try one or try several. Your great idea awaits!

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