5 ways to cultivate creativity

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The semester is well underway, which means I have less time for my own writing. My goals is to get better at finding those spare 15- or 20-minute chunks during the day when I can do something creative. 

Here’s what’s been working for me so far:

* Lay off social media. Like so many others, I find myself scrolling through my Facebook or Twitter feeds when I have a few extra minutes. Before social media, what did I do with that time? I would read a few pages from a book, or a magazine article, or an essay. I like having the Kindle app on my phone because I can read in those few minutes I’m waiting for appointments or meetings. Reading good writing has always inspired me and sparked my imagination.

* Take notes. I try to keep a notebook near me, but I also use my phone to take notes. I’m more likely to have my phone with me than a notebook and pencil.

* Find writing challenges. My favorite one is Jami Attenberg‘s #1000wordsofsummer. You sign up for a daily newsletter and Jami provides a motivation, with the idea to write 1,000 words a day for a period of time. In the summer it has been 14 days, but she often sprinkles in mini challenges throughout the year.

* Cultivate silent time. How often are we surrounded by silence? I’ve felt the need for my brain to simply “breathe” lately. I will write in silence, and in the car sometimes I turn off the radio. When I run I generally use my iPod, but on shorter runs or walks with my dogs I’ve been leaving it at home. I find that silent exercise after a writing session helps me process my ideas.

* Listen or read something new. I read articles from the New York Times every day. I also love podcast nonfiction serials, such as The Road to 9/11 (scroll down for Season 1) or shows that focus on a particular topic, such as true crime, cults, or serial killers.

What are your favorite ways to cultivate creativity?