2 Ways to Spark Your Creativity

This Miller-McCune article discusses new research studying two effective methods to inspire creativity: cultivating a multicultural outlook and thinking like a child. (We creative types already knew this, right?)

The first study found that American college students wrote more creative re-tellings of a fairy tale after being exposed to both Chinese and American cultural images or to hybrid Chinese-American images. Students who saw only Chinese images, only American images or no images at all created less imaginative stories. The researchers concluded that multicultural exposure boosts “creativity-supporting cognitive skills, such as a spontaneous tendency to sample ideas from divergent sources and to attempt creative integration of seemingly unconnected ideas.” In other words, get out there, meet people from other cultures, explore their traditions, their food, their ways of viewing the world that are different from yours. Travel if you can. Or even watch travel shows on TV. It will all help your creativity grow!

The second study asked college students to imagine school was cancelled for the day and to write about how they would spend their time, including their thoughts and feelings. Instructions for half the students included the line “You are seven years old.” Not surprisingly for those of us who spend time trying to think like a child, the students writing from the perspective of a 7-year-old “exhibited higher levels of creative originality.”

To help you engage with your inner 7-year-old, here’s an exercise I posted elsewhere on this blog. Have fun with it!

Eat something you loved as a child but never eat now. (For me, it’s a Pop-tart.) Eat it slowly, and experience the texture, taste, feel and smell of it. Compile a list of adjectives, verbs and nouns that describe the experience. Make the list as long as you can. Then use the words to write about someone from your past.

Copyright @ Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World, http://www.stranglingmymuse.com


4 Responses to “2 Ways to Spark Your Creativity”

  1. 1 mrs mediocrity March 11, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    I love this one, I was just telling my son that when I was a kid I used to eat mayonnaise and sugar sandwiches. I know, eewwww! Not sure I could do it again now, even for this exercise…but perhaps it is worth a shot…no, can’t do it…

    • 2 stranglingmymuse March 11, 2010 at 8:05 pm

      How about just a couple of bites to help unleash your creative spirit for this exercise? 😉

      Or maybe you could think of something else you loved to eat as a child…

      I think you should try the mayo/sugar sandwich, though. It could bring up some interesting words for you!


  2. 3 K a b l o o e y March 12, 2010 at 8:30 am

    You know, I really love the drawing you pictured and would happily hang it up. My favorite lunch when I was a kid was Tomato Beef Noodle-O soup and an Underwood Chicken spread sandwich. I know it’d be more palatable than a mayo and sugar sandwich, so maybe I’ll go see if they still make both of those. Or I could just look for Tang!

    • 4 stranglingmymuse March 12, 2010 at 10:27 am

      I love this drawing too. I haven’t had Tang in years (decades!), but I can still taste it when I think of it. You should try the soup, sandwich AND Tang and see what it inspires in you!

      I need to try this exercise myself — I created it, but haven’t done it. I think of Pop-tarts because we never ate them at home. I only had them when we visited my grandmother in Nashville. I bet if I tried it, a lot would come up. Sleeping on “pallets” on my grandmother’s living room floor, the scent and feel of her fingers as she went down the line of grandchildren and dabbed a little Vick’s Vapor Rub on each of us before we fell asleep…

      I’d love to see any writing this exercise produces, Kablooey, mrs mediocrity, or anyone else reading this!


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