2 Ways to Spark Your Creativity

I’m on vacation for a few days, so I’m offering one of my most popular posts:

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.


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