Stifled creativity has been known to plague even the greatest minds.
“The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts the moment you get up and doesn’t stop until you get into the office.” – Robert Frost
It’s a myth that only highly intelligent people are creative.
In fact, research shows that once you get beyond an I.Q. of about 120, which is just a little above average, intelligence and creativity are not at all related.
That means that even if you’re no smarter than most people, you still have the potential to wield amazing creative powers when writing copy.
How I lost my creativity
But, why are so few people highly creative?
Because there are bad habits people learn as they grow up, which are
mental blocks to creative thinking in the brain. And like all bad habits, they can be broken if you are willing to work at it.
I’ve lost my creativity before, and it’s not a great feeling. So to help you avoid that, here are eight of the very worst bad habits that could be holding you back every day.
1. Creating and evaluating at the same time
No matter how you define creativity, you can’t drive a car in first gear and reverse at the same time. Likewise, you shouldn’t try to use different types of thinking simultaneously. You’ll strip your mental gears.
Creating means generating new ideas, visualizing, looking ahead, considering the possibilities. Evaluating means analyzing and judging, picking apart ideas and sorting them into piles of good and bad, useful and useless.
Most people evaluate too soon and too often, and therefore create less. In order to create more and better ideas, you must separate creation from evaluation. Come up with lots of ideas first, and then judge their worth later.
2. The Expert Syndrome
This a big problem in any field where there are lots of gurus who tell you their secrets of success. It’s wise to listen, but when you follow advice without question, it could lead to stifled creativity.
Some of the most successful people in the world did what others told them would never work. They knew something about their own idea that even the gurus with the best attention-grabbing techniques didn’t know.
Every path to success is different.
3. Fear of failure
Most people remember baseball legend Babe Ruth as one of the great hitters of all time, with a career record of 714 home runs.
However, he was also a master of the strike out. That’s because he always swung for home runs, not singles or doubles. Ruth either succeeded big or failed spectacularly.
No one wants to make mistakes or fail. But if you try too hard to avoid failure, you’ll also avoid success.
It has been said that to increase your success rate, you should aim to make more mistakes. In other words, take more chances and you’ll succeed more often. Those few really great ideas you come up with will more than compensate for all of the dumb mistakes you make.
4. Fear of ambiguity
Most people like things to make sense.
Unfortunately, life is not neat and tidy. It’s not all about slick formulas and using the right trigger words. There are some things you’ll never understand and some problems you’ll never solve.
I once had a client who sold a product by direct mail. His order form broke every rule in the book. But it worked better than any other order form he had ever tried.
Why? I don’t know.
What I do know is that most great creative ideas emerge from a swirl of chaos. To overcome stifled creativity, you must develop a part of yourself that is comfortable with mess and confusion. You should become comfortable with things that work even when you don’t understand why.
5. Lack of confidence
A certain level of uncertainty accompanies every creative act. A small measure of self-doubt is healthy.
However, you must have confidence in your abilities in order to create and carry out effective solutions to problems. Confidence also helps you avoid becoming one of those people who never shut up.
Much of this comes from experience, but confidence also comes from familiarity with how creativity works.
When you understand that ideas often seem crazy at first, that failure is just a learning experience, and that nothing is impossible, you are on your way to becoming more confident and more creative.
Instead of dividing the world into the possible and impossible, divide it into what you’ve tried and what you haven’t tried. There are a million pathways to success.
6. Discouragement from other people
Even if you have a wide-open mind and the ability to see what’s possible, most people around you will not. They will tell you in various and often subtle ways to conform, be sensible, and not rock the boat. They want to discourage you from being naive.
Ignore them. The path to every victory is paved with predictions of failure. And once you have a big win under your belt, all the naysayers will shut their noise and see you for what you are — a creative force to be reckoned with.
7. Being overwhelmed by information
It’s called “analysis paralysis,” the condition of spending so much time thinking about a problem and cramming your brain with so much information that you lose the ability to act.
It’s been said that information is to the brain what food is to the body. True enough. But just as you can overeat, you can also overthink, and that’s a recipe for stifled creativity.
Every successful person I’ve ever met has the ability to know when to stop collecting information and start taking action. They learn how to write articles fast. Many subscribe to the “ready – fire – aim” philosophy of business success, knowing that acting on a good plan today is better than waiting for a perfect plan tomorrow.
8. Being trapped by false limits
Ask a copywriter for a great idea, and you’ll get a solution that involves persuasive words. Ask a designer for a great idea, and you’ll get a solution that involves visuals. Ask a blogger for a great idea, and you’ll get a solution that involves a blog.
We’re all a product of our experience. But the limitations we have are self-imposed. They are false limits. Only when you force yourself to look past what you know and feel comfortable with can you increase your creativity.
Be open to anything. Step outside your comfort zone. Consider how those in unrelated areas do what they do. What seems impossible today may seem surprisingly doable tomorrow.
If you recognize some of these problems in your own stifled creativity, don’t fret. In fact, rejoice! Knowing what’s holding you back is the first step toward breaking down the barriers of creativity.
How to get my creativity back
Now let’s look at some quick methods for how to get your creativity back. These are simple habits you can practice every day to keep your creative juices flowing.
Oftentimes, the more you sit around, the more lethargic and unmotivated you feel. The key here is to recognize when you actually need rest and when you’re avoiding physical activity. If you’re not actually tired, make time to move around more than you normally do.
Instead of implementing a strict workout routine (unless that is your thing), just make sure your day involves some gentle forms of exercise. You can walk around the block, or take the stairs instead of an elevator. Changing your environment by moving around helps you see things from different perspectives, which is part of what makes a good writer.
Cut out mindless entertainment
If you are what you eat, are you also watch you watch? If you opt for more creative entertainment, rather than mindless nonsense, it will have a positive impact on your creativity.
Read articles and watch videos that stimulate your mind. Carefully select which television shows and movies you watch. When you do, the content will either contribute to your creative output and/or you’ll have more time for creative work (because you’re wasting less time).
Follow your inner voice
Listening to your inner voice can be the simplest way to overcome stifled creativity. Treat all of your “crazy” ideas as valid, rather than immediately dismissing them. You can always dismiss them later if they turn out not to be the best option for you. But first, give them a chance.
Brainstorm how you can follow through on an idea so that you can accomplish a goal. When you do, it’s much more likely that you’ll find a way to achieve your desired result. It might not look anything like your original idea, but you’ll only discover it by taking the time to imagine different possibilities.
Great content is born from possibility and potential, not doubt and limits.