Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Our 7 Tricks To Boost Creativity...

We’re delighted to introduce our new series where, on the first Wednesday of each month, our blog team will share ideas related to a topic or question.

What better way to kick-start our creative adventure than by asking:

What tricks do you use to help boost creativity?

We hope you enjoy our creative answers and please share your ideas too!

Rae - Travelling does it for me every time. I was lucky enough recently to visit Washington D.C. and, as a writer, one of the tourist attractions that piqued my interest was the International Spy Museum. Apparently Washington D.C. has the reputation of being the most spied upon city in the world. I’m not sure how they know! Anyway, it's a fascinating exhibition of the history of espionage and spy related ‘toys’, or as the museum puts it ‘the largest collection of espionage artifacts on public display, anywhere in the world’ – think an umbrella gun, lipstick pistol and eyeglasses designed to conceal cyanide pills. Q from Bond would love it.

But perhaps not surprisingly, it was the real-life stories of intelligence professionals, leading double lives often for decades, that I found intriguing. The deception, the lies, the patience, the cunning required - what sort of individual would find that life attractive? Wouldn’t they have family or friends who might give the game away? Had something happened in childhood, which might draw them to such an assignment? Why would they do that? – such inspiration.  Of course I can’t always up-tail and travel abroad each time I require an injection of creativity but shaking things up closer to home seems to work too – eating at a new restaurant, meeting new people, finding a new route to walk or cycle – all help oil those artistic cogs for me.

Gill - My hint for creativity, which is borrowed from the writer Julia Cameron, is to write ‘morning words’. For me these don’t necessarily have to be in the morning, they can be at any time of day. Her idea was that just as you would walk to exercise your body, you should write to exercise your writing ‘muscles’. This can be putting pen to paper, or typing on your computer. It should not be part of your work-in-progress or related to anything specific, it is just thoughts coming out unplanned and unregulated. And it really does work. It’s like turning on a tap. Once you start, you realise you are writing, even though you may have felt you had no ideas and would never write again. And once you are writing something – you can turn that energy to writing what you want to write be it a blog, an article or a story. I thoroughly recommend giving it a try.

Problem, People, Place, Plot
Linda - I use the Four Ps principle. I have four plastic beakers labelled Problem, People, Place, Plot. At random moments (not when I have sticky moments) I pop something on a scrap of paper in each pot. Under Problems the list might be something like this ... car broken down, late for train, child missing, husband/wife having affair. Under People it might read something like this ... policeman, ballet dancer, school dinner lady, an unusual name like Phaedra. Places could be anywhere the story could be set like ... fish and chip shop, theatre, train, boat, plane, swimming pool. Under plot I have very little .... gives up job to pursue dream, turns the house into a B&B ... because once I’ve taken a piece of paper from each pot I have my problem and whose it is, and where, and the plot unfolds itself.

Jennie - I use David Morrells 'talk to your typewriter' technique - an idea he apparently got from Harold Robbins. You sit in front of your computer and keyboard and 'talk' to each other, something like this:

"How are you this morning?"
"Great! I just had this wonderful idea for a story."
"Fabulous. Tell me about it. What's the idea?"
"Well, I'm not sure really it's just that there's this old house down the road that's apparently haunted and I'd like to write about it.'

Now I have to answer the question, which will prompt another question from the computer. Sometimes trying to explain/develop my idea I run out of words, so I type one of the following words or phrases. 'What if?', 'why?' and 'so what' are words that prompt me to come up with answers.

By simply sitting in front of the computer basically having a written conversation with yourself it's amazing what the subconscious comes up with!

Plockton, Scotland
Neil - How does a photographer boost creativity? The answer should be simple go out and take more photographs. 
Although I go out and take photos almost daily, depending on the weather, it is often half an hour grabbed here and there, in between family life. 
Making time to go out taking photographs helps boost my creativity, so I like to plan ahead. Enjoying an uninterrupted day to discover somewhere new or rediscover old ground when I have time off from work and family commitments. 
So my tip would be make and plan time for your writing, photography, painting etc. Time that is dedicated to you, without interruptions or any need to rush.  
I don't always use this time to take photographs, as sometimes the weather defeats me, so instead I will read blogs or look through other photographers work, for inspiration and tips.

Lesley - My top tip for creativity is from my last post and the great David Garrick.
“If want comes in, importance must retreat;
Our first great ruling passion - is to eat."

Jennifer - Carry a camera. I take photos of the strangest things, mostly abandoned things such as shoes or (once) a bunch of flowers still in its wrapper, thrust into a bin. But it can be a flower or a tree or a gravestone or just someone walking down a street.

Even if you don't have time to think about these things at the time, if you take a photo there's always something there to remind you. And if it turns out to be no use you can always delete it :)

I've attached a couple of my favourite pictures seen on my travels. 


  1. This series sounds great - and off to a good start. I shall start talking to my laptop!

    1. Me too, Kate. Might be the only sensible conversation I have all day! :-)

  2. I like Linda's four Ps method - great idea for a creative writing workshop exercise. I also rather like the idea of chatting to my computer. Must try that one.

    1. Glad you like this one. I also have a list of emotions, which is quite extensive, and for depth I often throw one of those into the story, too.

  3. Thanks for sharing these great ideas - I'm going to borrow Linda's which is one I haven't come across before!

    1. May your creative cup runneth over now, Rosemary.

  4. Love the photographing random things idea .... and talking to my computer - at least it won't answer back, or demand coffee and cake!

  5. I like all the ideas. And as nothing ever works all the time, it's good to have some alternatives :)