Creativity is at the forefront for all good actors. To portray interesting and memorable characters, and more importantly, a variety of them, you need to have an expansive imagination. A truly creative mind helps actors to bring those people to life.
Being creative doesn’t benefit actors alone. Any person who’s considered creative can be more successful in life, business, relationships and any goals they choose to pursue. In fact, this has even been supported by research.
What’s even more interesting is that creativity often equals not only an expansive imagination, but also higher intelligence. Studies have found that both scientists and artists who are considered creative share the exact same traits.
We have previously written a column on whether a creative brain is genetic (inherited) or it can be learned. It’s the (in)famous nature vs nurture debate. With all the data that was found, it is in fact possible to make yourself more creative as long as you’re willing to work at it.
After quite a bit of research, I found possible correlation between certain things creative people do (and the exercises they use) that may help them stay in tune with their creative mind. Here are 13 ways you can be a more creative
13 Ways to Be More Creative
1. Wake up an hour earlier than you usually do
If you don’t like mornings, then you know what it’s like to re-set the alarm every 15 minutes. As a result, you only manage to brush your teeth, have a sip of coffee and ran to school or work.
Try to set your alarm an hour earlier and put it away from you, so you’ll have to leave your bed to turn it off. This way you’ll have plenty of time to have breakfast, read the daily newspaper and actually wake up.
This lack of stress from constantly being rushed, which often happens to the best of us, means you can use your brain resources on things that matter.
It seems like meditation advice has been beaten to death recently. Everybody continues to advise for it, as if it’s some sort of magic pill. But maybe it is?
We all have plenty of issues and stress to deal with on a daily basis. We don’t get enough auditions, and if do any, we can’t book an acting job for the 100th time. On top of that there are problems at school or at work, a car needs repairing, fridge isn’t working…
How can someone possibly be creative in this world full of problems? Meditation, possibly paired with yoga, is the answer. You will learn how to get rid of those negative thoughts and concentrate on the project that you are so passionate about. And while everyone is still sleeping, you’ll already have a plan of making your dream come true.
Famous filmmaker David Lynch, one of America’s most creative directors, is a big fan of Transcendental Meditation. He has even set up a foundation for people to start learning this process and he attributed all his creativity and success to meditation.
Below is an amazing lecture with him (there’s more of these on YouTube; search for them – they’re worth it!)
You knew this one was coming, didn’t you? That’s because it’s a no-brainer. Reading is arguably one of the best things you can not just to become creativity, but to improve yourself as a person and actor.
Research has shown how reading will help you improve on many different levels, including your verbal skills, concentrate on the specific project, and improve your memory and analytical thinking. It can also give you some creative ideas.
Do not read only one specific type of books. Pick and choose, make sure you dip your toes into different genres and try to find something applicable for specific time of day, week, your mood, or whatever project you’re currently working on.
For example, reading something very serious or too heavy in the morning will make you think too much and get you in your head, so leave that for later; find something that is fun and easy to read for your morning sessions.
If you want some reads on this specific topic, we have a list of best books on creativity and also best books on imagination. Don’t focus on reading just self-improvement stuff; that’s the quickest way to stall your creative progress. Although, anything is better than surfing the net for Facebook’s “clever” posts.
In the same vein of light, writing can be just as useful if not more so than reading. It’s a great exercise for you brain, and there’s an excellent article on why actors should start writing regularly.
On the one hand, it seems strange that in the age of high-tech someone is still selling and, what’s even weirder, buying notebooks and diaries. In the world full of gadgets and apps, writing seems as archaic as using a cane.
However, writing is alive and well! Many people still do it and enjoy it, and for a good reason. It helps you fixate and save your ideas even if you lose or break your gadget. So, while you are having you morning portion of coffee or tea, jot down some of your great ideas, or leave those for the evening session. Any time is better than no time!
Here’s an awesome TED talk on how creative writing can benefit anybody:
Not the type of relaxation like we discussed above with meditation. I mean, free yourself from anxiety. Stop worrying about what people think, give your brain a break, and just… relax.
Have you noticed that it’s so much easier to give an advice to someone else’s project than your own? It happens because you aren’t interested in it; you don’t worry about its financial success and you don’t think about client’s facial expression when he hears that you can’t meet the deadline.
You can do the same with your own project! Just imagine that your boss is some unreal character from “Star Wars” and that you have as much time as you want. Then you will see how many creative ideas will come to your mind and you will actually do any project, any goal, any assignment better and faster than you expected.
6. Use the dictionary
Yes, I’m sure you’ve used and still use an online dictionary if you need to look up a word or a synonym to sound smarter. But there are also ways you can use a dictionary to make yourself more creative, and those usually stem from some of the exercises creative writers do to flex their creative brain.
We all used dictionaries in high school learning some terribly difficult language. Now, your task is much easier. Open the dictionary and find two random words in it. Try finding some connections between those words and… make up a crazy story where both of these words can be used. It’s going to be so much fun!
Another pretty obvious one that will easily force you to use your imagination and creativity. How else would you draw something from scratch without nothing? Painters are known creatives, not only when they paint but in life.
Have you noticed how many painters and artists take up other creative endeavors? That’s because as they continue to do one work, they flex the cretive muscle which continues to get stronger. As it gets stronger, more ideas flow and they feel the urge to express them. Eventually, just a blank canvas isn’t enough anymore.
Again, this reminds me of David Lynch, who’s after doing several films took up painting (and became quite good, although that’s subjective, at it) and is currently making music. That Transcendental Meditation thing seems to be really working for him.
So take a sheet of paper and draw something that doesn’t exist in our world. It can be some animal that has a head of a cat and a body of a butterfly or a person with wings. Anything will do! This way will make your imagination stay active and it will keep you from procrastinating, too.
8. Game of words
Chose a word. Let’s say the word is “an orange”. Now think of 5 words that you can associate it with: tasty, round, sweet, etc. Sounds too easy? Not so fast. Now think of 5 words you will never find ANY connections with it. Yes, it’s going to be tricky.
The reason this as well as some other exercise like that are difficult on occasion (and when we feel like giving up right away) is because that part of your brain hasn’t gotten enough exercise. In a sense, it’s weak.
When you go to a gym for the first time after a long break, you feel weak. You do one exercise, and you don’t want to do that anymore because your body refuses to. But if you continue to force yourself, you get better at any. It only takes 30 minutes to push through the first sense of “uncomfortableness.” Once you’re past that point, you’re golden.
9. Look around
Let’s take a look at a few more of these exercises that
Take a 10 minute break and sit down somewhere in your room. Look around and name every single object that you see in your room. Try choosing very cute names that are easy to remember. For example: Teddy-Table, Kitty-TV and so on. The weirder you can get, the more exercise your creative brain is receiving.
I’ve done this very often when I used to work in an office. My eyes would get tired from staring at a computer screen for hours, so I would just push myself away from the desk and play this in my head for 10 minutes.
Chose different names every day – try make it harder for yourself – and you’ll notice something: your choices/ideas/names will be getting more and more creative. It’s quite fascinating.
10. Listen to the world
We know that listening is one of the most important skills an actor can master. So I hope that you’ve been working on your listening skills, because now you can also put them to use to expand your creativity.
It’s not a secret that listening to music helps you concentrate and relax, so try doing just that only employ what’s called active listening. Music is one of the things you can listen to, just do not use your headphones for this exercise.
Additionally, try to listen to the world around you instead of music. Really listen, like Meisner used to say. Let’s admit it, there are so many things to listen to besides “30 seconds to Mars’s” new album.
11. Ask “Why?”
Arguably one of the most important questions any artist or scientist can ask is “why?” I love this question, and I drive my friend nuts with it. But thanks to my curiousity, I’ve learned many things over the years (and probably annoyed quite a few people).
On top of that, remember to always question yourself, analyze yourself and generally become more self-aware. This not only improves your creativity, but makes you a better actor.
We all love creating ideas, some of them are great and some, let’s face it, not so much. To find out which ones are, one should always ask: Why am I doing it? Why do we need it? and you’ll soon see that this childish habit of always asking the “why” will become your key to finding creative ideas.
12. Don’t get fooled by the trends
It’s difficult to keep yourself away from the showbiz industry and focus on the art of acting alone. In fact, it’s downright impossible, since if you want to become an actor, you have to consider acting as a business.
That doesn’t mean that you should continuously mix the art with your entrepreneurial venture as an artist. There’s always a time and a place for both!
You should know what’s going on in the field of entertainment industry, read the trade sites and stay up to date. However, do not let the trends dictate you what to do. Stay true to your course, work your creativity and allow your creative juices to flow. Do not stop them regardless of whatever is happening around you.
13. Don’t be just the consumer
Television is great nowadays – there’s a lot of good shows being produced. So is film and the internet. There’s a vast array of sources of entertainment for all of us to consume. But remember that if your goal is to be a creative artist, you cannot be consuming alone. You need to be creating.
Don’t watch too much TV. Sit down and write a TV pilot or a web series of your own; entertain yourself that way. Don’t spend too much time on social networks! Remember that advice about reading? Try that instead.
Being a consumer day in and day out will kill your originality and creativity. Your brain doesn’t get enough exercise therefore you’ll stop using part of it. It won’t go away completely, you can always bring it back, but the more you neglect it, the harder it will be to revive it.
Usually, anything is better than mindless consumption. Talk to your friends or brainstorm some ideas. Daydream!