How To Be Creative: Six Science Approved Steps

Don't worry, you don't need to describe yourself as 'random', use a paintbrush to pin your hair up or have a professional qualification in colouring in to be creative. (Although they might help.)

Whether your teacher once wrote it on a Year Four school report, or it came up at a hen party – halfway through painting one of those ceramic plates – everybody feels under pressure to be more artistic. But is it innate, or can you teach yourself how to be creative?

Apparently you can. In fact, it all comes down to six simple things that all creative people do – and which you can learn, too.

(And if you already reckon you know how to be creative? Well, you might actually be wrong. Because it’s not actually about painting miniature Mona Lisas on your fingernails or fashioning a ball gown out of a patchwork quilt after all.)

CREATIVE PEOPLE ARE SARCASTIC
Experts at Harvard Business School have discovered that if you’re sarcastic, you probably have better cognitive function than your straight-speaking friends, because you have to understand both the literal and the actual meaning of a statement. And this, in turn, makes you more creative.

The researchers behind the study were pretty thorough in their investigations. They put participants in three groups. Group one had to talk to one another sarcastically. Group two had to speak sincerely. And group three had to read responses from a piece of paper. And when that was all done and dusted, the participants were all given a series of task to test their creativity. And you can probably guess the results.

(In case you can’t guess the results, basically group one won.)

THEY GET UP WHENEVER YOU WANT

Sure, your best friend might get into work at 7am and write 15 short stories before you’ve had time to get your unconscious self into the shower, but that doesn’t mean you’re any less creative than her. Instead, evidence suggests that the most creative types out there are the people who adhere to their own body clock – working out what time of day they fel the most imaginative, and structuring their time around it. If that’s 8am, 10am, 2pm or half past midnight, that’s OK.

DAYDREAMER IS THEIR MIDDLE NAME

Stare out of the window to your heart’s content – apparently the brain processes involved in daydreaming are directly linked to creativity. Plus, while you might think daydreamers aren’t listening, it’s actually been proven that they’re better at recalling information in distracting situations – simply because they’re used to absorbing facts while their minds are elsewhere. Similarly, it allows you to mull over scenarios and problems in new and different ways – leading to creative solutions.

Now if you’ll excuse us, there’s a really pretty dress we need to spend some time thinking about…

THEY’RE INCREDIBLY SKEPTICAL
Instead of believing everything they hear, creative types are scientifically proven to question, and question, and question things – just in case. By coming up with their own theories for why things may have occured, they’re using their imaginations rather than taking everything at face value.

KEEPING TIME ISN’T A STRONG POINT

Throw your watch in the bin. Right now. Studies show that you need to get lost in the moment if you want to be creative, without the constraints of being on time. So next time you’re late to work, use that as your excuse.

THEY SPEND TIME ALONE
Sorry to break this to you, but if you want to be creative, you’re going to have to ditch the idea of finding a muse and spending all your time together. The most creative people out there are the ones who are happy to spend time alone with their own thoughts. To be honest, this links back to the idea of day dreaming, but solitude isn’t to be underestimated.

‘You need to get in touch with that inner monologue to be able to express it,’ says psychologist Scott Kaufman. ‘It’s hard to find that inner creative voice if you’re not getting in touch with yourself and reflecting on yourself.’

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