9 tips to be more creative

As promised, I’m having a recap of what I talked about on Etsy’s Virtual Labs. The topic at hand was Inspiring Creativity, and so I’ll break it down to more manageable chunks about how to be more creative — remember all these ideas aren’t new at all, but these are the ones that worked for me to get me into gear:

About fueling creativity:

  1. Creativity is fueled by experiences, sights, sounds and smells. Sitting still won’t bring new ideas in; experimenting and trying new things will jog your creativity.
  2. I maintain a certain pattern to the day, with my morning bath signalling me that I am starting my work with a fresh mind and spirit. After breakfast is when my day officially begins — I turn on the radio and look at my to-do list (see #3).
  3. I jot down notes every night before I go to bed about what I need to accomplish the next day. This way, I’m actively placing my worries onto paper so I can go to bed not fretting about what needs to be done.
  4. I have a box labeled for each different project I’m involved in. So I toss everything I have in one box, and I don’t worry about misplacing things or ideas. This one was inspired by The Creative Habit
  5. I also keep a different sketchbook for different topics and ideas. I have one for business, one for random sketches and another for my writing. And in these sketchbooks I sometimes allocate different sections so that my thoughts don’t get messed up too much (there isn’t a search function on them, like a computer does!)
  6. And I throw these sketchbooks all over the place, so when I have a thought I scribble it down quickly.
  7. I try and find the pattern between things, and connect the dots between random things just for fun when I’m stuck in a rut. Like when I see the color yellow around me, and then I start to focus on finding yellow things — stuff that I didn’t notice before will show themselves to me. I’m heightening my sense of awareness because I’m narrowing my focus to one thing.
  8. Doing things differently helps. I love calligraphy, but sometimes I seem to be stuck in a rut — it seems that I could only write in a certain way! So I stop, and see what others are doing, and try to analyze what I could do differently. A little more pressure on the downward stroke? Or how about adding more flourishes to that letter? It took me about a week of constant practice to free up my hand. If you’re stumped for ideas, have a look at Keri Smith’s 100 ideas to get you started.
  9. Practice, practice, practice. Creativity is like a muscle that you need to flex regularly. I dread staring onto a blank piece of paper, but everything begins with that first stroke. I’m a perfectionist, so I train myself to not use erasers at all when I’m drawing. And if I do make mistakes, I start on a new piece of paper — that way I let new ideas in and not just dwell on what I previously did.

Here are some books in my collection that I pick up whenever I need a boost:

  1. The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp : I love this book. Twyla is a dancer and choreographer, but a lot of the things she has to say cuts across all disciplines.
  2. How to Be an Explorer of the World: Portable Life Museum by Keri Smith : Keri reminds everyone to put on their explorer goggles and look at the world with new eyes — I did a review of her book here.
  3. Living Out Loud by Keri Smith : Although the book is a little girlish for guys, I love the article she wrote about how to find what you love to do
  4. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho : This is an amazing book that I pick up and read again and again. The message is simple — you won’t find what you’re looking for until you follow through on your dreams.
  5. How to be an Illustrator by Darrel Rees and Nicholas Blechman : I like how they talk to illustrators and get their feedback on running a creative business.
  6. Lines & Shapes by Lena and Mav : Amazing artists and beautiful, beautiful pictures. I have volume no. 5 and I treasure it.
  7. The first issue of the Good to Know project : I like keeping a copy on my bookshelf so I can read up on what my friends have to say about being creatively stuck.

Stay tuned for the second part which I’ll be posting tomorrow It’s ready! Click here to read the second installment of my recap about competition and copycats!

——————

p/s: Talking and reading all your thoughtful messages during the Virtual Labs session (especially the whispers that some of you passed on) made me feel so much better! But I do have to say that reading the chats while having to focus on talking was a little hard, mainly because I wanted so badly to talk back to each and every one! :)

44 comments

  1. Lucie says:

    Sooo helpful! I couldn’t make the Etsy webcast so I really appreciate this post.

  2. rachel says:

    thanks friend you rock!
    i loved being in your Etsy Virtual lab. it was nice to meet you. your awesome and your advice is wonderful. this recap is even awesomer because i get distracted easily. but i would love to learn. i am new to having an etsy shop and this really helps. ♥

  3. I absolutely love these suggestions. Number 7 of the first list is my favorite! Focus is so necessary when working on projects everyday. And the great thing about art is that you will notice different things than everyone else…you’ll notice yellow, while I’ll notice circles…or even if we both noticed yellow, or responses would be so different.

    Thanks for this!

  4. Melanie says:

    Great post! I liked the idea from #4 and #7 especially.

  5. Karen says:

    Hi Amy! Thanks for arranging here all these great ideas for those of us who missed your Etsy Lab. I’m putting to practice #3 tonight! It’s incredible how much time I spend in bed thinking about what I have to do next day. Thanks again!

  6. Jacqueline says:

    Oh Amy thank you soo much for the recap! #4 and #7 are my favorites! I really appreciates this! Have a lovely merry happy day and love to you!

  7. Alisa says:

    What a great list, thanks Amy! Rut-buster no.7 sounds brilliant. I also love how the brain naturally makes connections between to completely random and disparate things, I find it often conjures up fresh ideas.

  8. Hey, I’m Sandra form Germany. I am always looking for “creativity tips”. Not these “How to”-Guides, but these one who manage to inspire you so that you get very own and new ideas. But you can hardly find something like this in German(y). But now, after I read all books of Keri Smith, I found your blog and I’m so happy about that. It’s just my taste of tips^^

  9. I’m so glad that you posted a recap! Sad that I was unable to attend. You’ve definitely added to my “need to read” list. Thank you Amy!

  10. bibi says:

    thank you for sharing your thoughts.
    This is very helpful =)
    I’ll bookmark this page!

  11. Darlene says:

    Great article – I posted about it on my blog.

  12. Susan says:

    We all get is them, these are great. I have notebooks for all of my projects. Problem, I have a lot of notebooks. I love to read my older ones, they inspire me today. Thanks for all of the tips.

  13. Jessica says:

    Another good virtual lab that I missed?! I need to start writing down the lab schedules in a calendar! Great post and I’m so glad you included reading material. I really enjoyed The Creative Habit as well and can’t wait to look into the others you’ve suggested!

  14. great tips! I have many sketch books and they really are handy, one in my purse, one on the night stand and several on the dining room table!

  15. Jen says:

    Thank you for sharing these tips. I’m just realizing I need to write more stuff down so it’s not all jumbled in my head. Your tips for the different sketch books and writing a list before bed are perfect! Thank you!

  16. Linda says:

    I needed to read that today. Thanks for the great tips!

  17. Alice says:

    Brilliant tips Amy! I love the divide and conquer idea. I need that. And yes, plenty of sketchbooks around really is useful.

  18. Heather says:

    Thanks for this post! Very informative and helpful information.

  19. Elizabeth says:

    Great tips! thank you so much for sharing!!!

  20. I wrote a blog on this about one month ago myself. I was stuck in a just staring sitting organizing re-organizing state. Finally my inside said…There is just to much inside. It wasn’t that I couldn’t think of something to make it was what do I make first?. So I got my big graph paper pad out with pencil in hand and got it all on paper. It worked great, This post is right on..TY

  21. Amanda Yu says:

    Great tips! thank you very much for sharing :) I found immediately a few things How-to improve myself of arrange my work day at home more effectively. *cheers!

  22. Amy says:

    Aaww, thanks everyone! I’m glad you all liked the article!

  23. teresa says:

    this is wonderful-thanks! back to the basics. it’s so easy to get caught up in your head and you have simplified it!

  24. C.S says:

    Creativity is a fickle creature and need careful nurturing. Sometimes it’s hard to get inspired. I’m stuck currently at a laborious project and want to do something else but can’t because it won’t get finished other wise.I find useful tidying and rearranging the work area, stucking pictures on the wall can help to me and it works. A little bit of cleaning can work wonders.

  25. great tips and ideas! I would also add

    Bird by Bird written by Anne Lamott to your list of books! it’s for writers but her concepts apply to all artists. one of my favs!

  26. marj says:

    OMG.i love this!! this is really helpful to me,especially since my creativity level is very low :)

  27. Amy says:

    Marj, I don’t think creativity levels are measured in lows and highs! I think it’s more of uncovering them slowly and exercising your creative muscles. They’ll get stronger everyday!

  28. Thanks for the great article and resources list! (I work at a library and 3 of them are here, so I can have instant gratification, too!!)

  29. Priscila says:

    I just went out to get some empty shoe boxes from the shoe store nearby because I’m using your tip #4. I’m going to need an awful lot of boxes! (oh, and I’m going to follow all your other tips too!)
    Thanks for this VERY helpful article =)

  30. Hi Amy and thank you for this advice. I have only just opened my Etsy Shop (from where I’ve linked to your blog) and need all the help I can get. You have encouraged me to look outside the box I’ve put myself into and your words have lifted my head :-) I’ve been stuck for way too long, so thanks a heap.

  31. Very good inspiration you come with here, thanks allot. Creativity is like a muscle – you have to use it :-)

  32. firma says:

    Probably it’s so easy to get caught up in your head and you have simplified it..

  33. Very good! Thank you for share this!

  34. eve isk says:

    this is really helpful to me,especially since my creativity level is very low :)

  35. Ivana says:

    Love the list. So simple and helpful ideas. Thanx

  36. apad gf10 says:

    This post was very nicely written, and it also contains many useful facts.
    efox-shop

  37. I waited for what seemed like an eternity (actually two weeks – my first eight posts), and at last someone I didn’t know left a comment. I remember exactly how I felt.

  38. i think maybe i come here before!

  39. these things will be difficult at start but if practiced properly these things will bring great results.

  40. You got some really great pointers. If you really pay attention to it, we get creative ideas all the time. It is just a matter of focussing on it and trying not to forget it.

  41. Erica says:

    wow really great tips! I’m definitely going to do them. Thanks for sharing.

  42. [...] brand, much less to sustain it – because you don’t know what you want yet. Discovering creativity and also thinking about what you can offer to the marketplace is important.I read an article by [...]

  43. Point 2 of making sure you keep that routine and structure to a day is so often overlooked!

  44. Geonice says:

    Thank you soo much for all your recap ! this post is really great tips!
    i will bookmark and take a look for manage my site, coz i things its really inspiring for me…………..and you have good collection also, good job ! :)

  45. [...] 9 tips to be more creative – @pikaland writes about inspiring creativity. [...]

  46. [...] 11. Pikaland – A brilliant blog from freelance illustrator Amy Ng. It contains loads of tips and advice, as well as downloadable goodies. Off the back of her blog’s success, Amy has also set up Camp Pikaland, offering training courses for creatives both on and offline. Start with: 9 tips to be more creative [...]

  47. Cindy Tan says:

    Not using erasers at all? I’m like QUEEN of erasers. I gotta start training myself not to use them so often. >_>

  48. [...] behind the image. And the story behind you, the artist.I’ve heard people talking about how creativity is hard to come by these days, and that it’s harder and harder to innovate since everyone [...]

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