How can people become more creative in their everyday lives? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Christina Wallace, Author, "New to Big", VP Growth, Bionic, Host, TLDNE, on Quora:

I believe creativity is a muscle, not a skill. That is, you get more creative by building a practice of being creative. It's not a thing you either are or are not. (Related: I believe that's also true of athleticism. I was told my entire childhood that I was not athletic, so I didn't try to be. Then in my 20s I decided to try and what do you know? I ran 3 marathons, climbed Kilimanjaro, learned to ski black diamonds, etc.)

We were all creative as children: we invented friends, wrote stories, drew monsters and flowers and families on any surface we could find, and many of us growing up in the 80s and 90s learned to entertain ourselves for hours on road trips or lazy Saturday afternoons before smart phones and other technology came along to distract us. Yet as we grew up and began to focus our time and attention on a career much of that creativity fell to the side. Unless we chose careers in the arts (and I define that broadly: storytelling, design, performance of all kinds, etc.) we probably don't get to exercise this muscle on a daily basis.

So the simplistic answer is to build a daily practice of creativity back into your life. That can look like a lot of different things. Perhaps you start every morning writing 3 pages on whatever comes to mind for (best to do this longhand, in a notebook, vs typing on a screen). This is a practice called "morning pages" that was made popular by Julia Cameron in a fantastic book called The Artist's Way. (It's basically canon for anyone who considers themselves to be creative.)

Of course, if writing isn't your jam, there are other options. Take yourself on a solo date to a museum or gallery once a week with a sketchbook and draw what you see. Or keep something handy to draw on so that instead of scrolling mindless on social media when your friend is running late, you can sketch the stranger sitting at the table across from you.

Reading long-form fiction (also known as books) is one way I counter-program the steady diet of 280 character blips I ingest on Twitter all day long. I workshop new jokes at networking events and cocktail parties that aren't particularly exciting otherwise. And I created a side hustle (my podcast, The Limit Does Not Exist) out of a desire to both connect with other creative folks and to have a format and a deadline to make new work on a regular basis.

Speaking of which, accountability is the easiest way to build a practice of creativity. Having a writing partner that you just check in with every Sunday night with your word count for the week is an incredible forcing function for you to make the time to write. Sharing designs in progress with someone whose opinion you trust helps you get things out of your head and onto paper. The challenge for probably all of us, is that the first draft of anything is only a crude approximation of what is in our heads and it can be hard to see that when we are used to being good at whatever it is that we do. But that's the creative process. And the more you practice it, the stronger the muscle. Good luck!

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Published on: Aug 16, 2019