Creative energy can be an elusive thing, but it doesn’t have to be. I’ve found 6 methods and exercises to increase creativity that work without fail. These will help you be more creative in music, be more creative in writing, and be more creative in art in general.
Do any of these things sound familiar?
- you sit down to make music/write/draw/paint and nothing good seems to be coming out
- hours pass and you’ve made nothing that you’re excited about
- you get distracted and procrastinate
- you quit on creative projects before they ever get completed
I have 100% been there and it can be incredibly frustrating. It’s even a bit scary at times, because it can feel like you’ll never have a good idea ever again.
That’s obviously not true because you do make great art again eventually, but that thought starts spiraling and suddenly you find yourself in an anxious state – especially if you rely on creativity for your livelihood.
But what if we can figure out how to turn on creativity on command? The good news is that you CAN with enough practice and doing the right creativity boosting exercises (and a few awesome creativity-boosting supplements and nootropics).
One of the biggest myths I’ve ever come across is that you should wait for inspiration to strike. This is terrible advice because even when it does “just strike”, it’s still triggered by something.
Let’s bury that myth and use those triggers to our advantage.
At its core, to get into a creative zone you need to be as in the present moment as you possibly can be. Being all up in your head, or with negative thoughts and stress will kill that creative spark that you so desperately want to grow. Paralysis by analysis is real.
Stress is also part of the reason why a lot of people find it easier to be creative at night. At the end of the day there’s nothing to attend to – no meetings to attend, no errands to run. Less mental energy being eaten up by life, so you have more of it that can be expressed creatively.
Routine and familiarity/doing the same things can also be something that engages less of our creative muscles. If we’re on auto-pilot and our analytical, logical brain gets activated, then less creativity needs to be involved to overcome challenges.
That part of our brain is not a bad thing, and we need it for plenty of tasks (often during the editing/refining phase), but it shouldn’t be running the show during the initial phases of art-making.
We need to get out of the way of ourselves and let the ideas freely flow without any filtering or self-doubt!
Here are 6 ways (that have worked time and time again for me) to do just that very thing…
6 Proven Methods of Boosting Unstoppable Artistic & Musical Creative Energy (Creativity on Command!)
1. Free Association
This one is powerful. I’m putting it first because it’s so easy to do – all you need is a couple of minutes and you’ll be snapping yourself into a creative state.
Free association is basically a technique where you freely express whatever words come into your mind. This sounds easy, but it’s actually surprisingly difficult at first! Once you do it, you will quickly feel yourself loosening up and getting the creative gears turning over.
It will get you out of your logical, analytical thinking, left-brain mind (creativity primarily uses the right-brain). Being overly analytical right in the middle of the creative process will kill the depths that you could explore and cut threads of ideas that could lead to something great.
I’ve used free association as an exercise to bust through creative blocks for years now. Whenever I do this, I feel a significant difference in my ability to think laterally and creatively. Subsequently, I’m able to work on music or art a lot quicker.
This is also a great exercise for killing social anxiety as well! Hard to be anxious when the analytical part of your mind isn’t judging every little thing you’re doing in a social situation and allowing you to flow effortlessly in conversations (your vocabulary and self-expression also benefits!).
How Do You Free Associate?
Basically, the technique goes like this:
- Start with one random word, e.g. green
- Immediately say the next word that comes into your head without any filtering process. It does not matter what this word is (it can be completely unrelated), the point of the exercise is to just let the words tumble out. E.g. green -> grass
- Keep doing this for as long as you can (if you can do it for 5 minutes, then that’s awesome)
The point of the exercise is to be as quick, free-flowing, and basically as nonsensical as you can. Don’t judge what words come out. Let them be.
I just did this exercise real quick and these were my results:
green -> grass -> tree -> plant -> oregano -> pizza -> Italy -> Venice -> water -> boat -> jet -> Titanic -> Leonardo -> Da Vinci -> Mona Lisa -> gallery -> museum -> dinosaur -> caveman -> desert -> hot -> cold -> ice cream -> sprinkles -> sparkles -> confetti
There’s a slight thread of logic that goes through it all, but you generally wouldn’t expect to hear someone talk about oregano, Titanic, dinosaurs and ice cream in the space of 15 seconds!
If I kept doing this for minutes on end then it would get more and more abstract as I start un-stifling myself and engaging a different part of my brain. This is exactly what we want!
This can be surprisingly difficult if you’ve never done it before.
Observe the way your mind begins to judge the stream of words. You’ll often find your mind trying to pick the “perfect word” too. This is because it wants to make the stream of words make some sort of sense. The left-brain values structure and logic. You don’t want to search for the perfect word, you just want to spit the next one out immediately.
The longer you do it and the more you let go, the less your logical mind tries to assert itself and the more you find yourself in a rapid-fire flow.
You’ll find it significantly easier to sit down with your music/art/writing and start creating once you do this because that right-brain is all warmed up and thinking in abstract ways.
In fact, I did this to begin writing this article. I had a loose idea of points that I wanted to touch on, but didn’t know where to start. I did the exercise, then came back to writing, wrote one sentence, then that sentence turned into a paragraph, then another, then suddenly I have a whole article written.
I can feel a surge of energy in my body as this is happening. The act of just getting that first domino knocked into the other one leads to you tumbling them all down until you get to the finish line.
Try this exercise out and post your results down below. If you feel like sharing, I’d love to read your string of words too (just like mine above). Whoever has the most random free association session wins!
2. Take Supplements/Nootropics for Creativity
In addition to doing certain exercises to increase creativity, our nutrition and health plays a massive role. If you’re feeling like crap because you’re eating crap foods, then your art is probably going to be crap too (if you can even find the motivation to get started).
I wrote a whole article on just this one topic where I covered the best nutritional supplements that you can take to boost creativity right here, so go check that out to get the full value, but the short version is this…
Take ALL of the supplements I listed ideally, but these few in particular will give you a big boost of energy and drive to tackle your creative projects. I feel like an unstoppable force when I’m taking these.
They’re 100% natural, safe and free of side effects (completely legal too!). They removed my brain fog and made it significantly easier to get the creative energy flowing.
The most powerful of this is Mind Lab Pro, which is a nootropic (a collection of supplements that enhance brain function) that has been scientifically tested and backed up by thousands upon thousands of glowing user reviews. It will enhance your creativity and abstract thinking, mental clarity, focus and memory.
My life drastically improved after 6 months of taking this miracle supplement. My creativity is unstoppable thanks to this. Read my full report on Mind Lab Pro for yourself. Then grab some for yourself right here and become a creative force to be reckoned with.
All of these things will play a big part in improving the creativity-machine that you are! These things changed my life.
3. Meditation/Entering a Flow State
With consistency, meditation will absolutely transform not just your ability to get your creative energy fired up, but your whole life in general. It’s absolutely staggering when I think about how much meditation has changed my life.
This can be a really deep topic, but it doesn’t have to be complicated either. I could write a huge article on this one topic alone, and I believe it to be the most powerful thing on this list, but I’ll try to be as brief as I can here.
Meditation will have the biggest long-term benefits on your creativity, and life in general. Scientific studies have proven that meditation:
- lowers cortisol/stress levels
- eases anxiety (so it’s also a great tool to overcome stage fright!)
- reduces depression
- boosts your happiness
- basically improves every area of your life – this list isn’t even scratching the surface!
When you’re trying to get into a creative zone, you want to feel relaxed and present in the moment. You need to be an antenna picking up signals and energy and then transmitting those signals out through your hands (or whatever other body part you use for your art!).
Meditation helps get you into a state of ease and clarity of mind so you can effortlessly harness these signals.
It transforms lives and it’s not just for Buddhist monks in the Himalayas, or cliche weed-smoking hippies. I don’t care who you are – you WILL benefit from meditation.
How Do You Meditate?
People LOVE to complicate it. People also love to make it seem inaccessible to people on the outer (often so you’ll lay down cash to take their course on how to do it).
Because of this, I remember how confused I was as to what meditation even was when I was getting started. I thought you had to do all these fancy rituals and a part of me thought it must be new-age nonsense. Luckily I got past that and saw that it wasn’t. Ignore ALL of that and realise that it’s actually quite simple.
The method that worked for me is:
- Sit down, whether that’s cross-legged on the floor or just on a chair. It doesn’t matter which. Also don’t worry about doing some sort of “meditation pose” that you’ve seen in photos. You don’t need to touch your fingertips together while resting you hands on your knees if you don’t want to (I don’t, and never have).
- Shut your eyes and do your best to focus on your breath. Notice how it feels to breathe air in and out of your lungs, and the way your chest expands with each breath. As you breathe in, notice the feeling of air coming in through your nostrils. As you breathe out, feel the air exiting your mouth.
- Now notice the other physical sensations you have in your body – the tension you have in your shoulders (relax them!), the weight of your butt on the chair/floor, the sensation of air tickling your face, the texture of the socks on your feet. Do your best to notice tension and relax those body parts during this process.
- Whenever your mind wanders (it will do this constantly!), just be aware of the fact that you started thinking thoughts, do your best to let go of them, and then come back to noticing your breathing again.
Those are the fundamentals!
You can go WAY deeper with it, but this will be more than enough if you’re getting started. You will find this challenging (in a good way).
How Long Should You Meditate For?
Do it for as long as you can. I like to set a timer for 20 minutes, but even just 5 minutes is a good start when you’re new to it.
Personally, I like to do it without any music/distractions (I find that method to be the most powerful for me), but a lot of people like doing guided meditations (you listen to audio that has calming music with a voice-over that guides you through the exercise).
You might find it easier to build the habit this way. Headspace is a great app for this purpose. Here’s a guided meditation for beginners:
Your mind will put up a struggle and try to distract you and convince you that you should be up and about doing things (it might even try to tell you that meditation is stupid, in protest). Don’t get frustrated by this. This is 100% normal, and in fact it’s a good thing when this happens.
We’re training ourselves to not be dictated to by that little inner voice that we have. That inner voice can be the source of a lot of stress in our lives and it often doesn’t steer us toward a state of happiness. Meditation will steer you toward happiness.
Whenever we get distracted during meditation and notice that we got distracted, then we’ve just given ourselves another opportunity to train and reinforce a new positive pattern!
You will get less and less distracted over time, but you should appreciate those little wins where your mind wandered and you caught it in the act, then steered yourself back on track.
But How Is That Related to Creativity? Flow State!
Because we’re trying to rewire our brain to be more of our ally, and we’re trying to undo literally decades of bad habits, this will be a process of being consistent before you reach the real rewards.
- In the short term, you will feel nice and relaxed, which will enable more creative energy to flow.
- In the long-term, every facet of your life will improve tenfold. You’ll be able to reach a depth within yourself that you never realised was there. You’ll be able to tune into the vivid details of life and connect with people with ease.
You will be able to switch on your creativity like a light switch.
Commit to doing this every day for at least 3-4 weeks. My personal experience when I started was that I didn’t really feel anything other than a sense of calm and relaxation for the first 2-3 weeks. I was given a heads-up that this would happen, which allowed me to keep pushing through.
When I hit that 3 week mark, it was the beginning of the biggest transformation of my entire life. And it only got better and better from there.
I had an absolute surge in creativity because I was able to snap myself into the present moment, without any stress that could rob my energy and interrupt me getting into a flow state.
What Is Flow State?
Every creative person experiences flow state. It’s basically that feeling when you’re working on something and you start gathering momentum. You become fully immersed. It’s like time doesn’t exist and ideas are just pouring out of you. Often you get into this state and realise hours have passed when it felt like it was only a fraction of that.
It’s a real high.
Flow state is vital to creativity and it usually comes after an initial period of struggle, where the ideas aren’t quite coming out and it feels like it’s taking a long time to get momentum. Once you push past this, you find the floodgates open and you can’t stop it.
In that pre-flow phase, you can often feel negative and stressed (“this isn’t working”, “I’m never going to have a good idea”). This negative mindset can further delay flow state from arriving.
Meditation retrains your brain to be more positive and aligned with acceptance of situations that are outside of your control. Because you’re more relaxed and open to whatever comes up, flow state naturally arrives a lot quicker.
If there’s one big thing you should take away from this article, it’s to get a consistent meditation practice going. I start feeling like I can switch creativity on command when I’m consistent (if I do it every day).
Start small (so it’s a sustainable habit) and build it up, even if it’s just 5 minutes a day for now. Stay consistent, but allow for some flexibility so you don’t fall off track when life gets in the way.
If you miss a day, shrug it off and meditate the next day (this is an important mindset to have, as I’ve learned).
I’ve experienced the best periods of my life when meditating for 20 minutes, twice a day. If you can build up to that (you should do everything in your power to make that happen) then you will be absolutely unstoppable.
4. Move Your Body Around/Change Up Your Environment
Physical activity is super underrated for boosting creative energy! And I’m not just referring to exercise/working out (although those are amazing too).
As we’ve talked about, we want to shut off the logical part of our brain. This part pops up very easily when we’re sitting still because we don’t have any physical tasks that we’re doing to interrupt it. You need something to cut that thread and give your mind a break.
It’s pretty damn hard to be logical and in your head if you’re lifting a heavy object or running at full pace (and I often find that lyrics will come into my head if I go for a run)!
All of our mental faculties go away from thoughts, in order to focus on the more urgent task at hand (getting your blood pumping, regulating your breathing, allowing your muscles to expand and contract).
You don’t even need to go to that level – you just need to be moving your body in some way. Maybe you like to dance? That’s also great because it gets your blood pumping and energy flowing.
Elliott Hulse has some pretty weird, but great exercises on breaking up physical patterns and blockages. Moving your body in a way that it isn’t accustomed to is a great way to engage the right-brain. Go into this video with an open-mind (and maybe in the privacy of your bedroom) and you’ll feel a huge difference in your emotional state afterwards (particularly from the “shake and vibrate” exercise):
Get a Change of Scenery!
Also change up your environment after a while. Get out of your studio. Go for a walk. Get some sun on your skin. I know that’s the most cliche advice ever, but it’s cliche because it’s absolutely true.
I know what it’s like, because I can be terrible at taking that advice sometimes. You’re soldiering on, getting your hands dirty with your project, trying to push past creative barriers with your willpower.
Taking a break from it feels like you’ll fall behind (especially if you’re working towards a deadline). But you need quality of work over quantity of work.
What I mean by that is that getting to work solidly for an hour with a good headspace and mindset is far more valuable (and productive) than working for 4 hours straight in a bad headspace.
Sure, going for a walk might sacrifice a half hour to an hour that you could be working, but the mental returns you get from that walk will save you that time you lost in the long-run.
Easier said than done, because your logical mind will put up a fight and tell you that it’s a waste of time, but you have to take that leap of faith.
5. Try New Styles/Genres/Techniques
If there’s one thing that will cause the logical mind to pop up and start barking orders at you, it’s routine.
Routines are amazing, don’t get me wrong, but because you do them so much, they become easy to you and there’s less need to engage your abstract thinking. No puzzles to solve = less need to find creative solutions.
As a musician, I’ve definitely found that it can be easy to fall into patterns of doing the same thing, in the same style, over and over. You become good at a certain thing and it feels comfortable to continue doing it.
Throwing myself into situations where I’m tackling a new genre of music, or playing an instrument that I’m not super familiar with means that I have to find creative solutions to new problems.
Try This Out to Flip that Creativity Switch…
One of the best ways musicians in particular can tackle this is to always have a 15-20 minute period during a jam/rehearsal with your band and switch instruments. Guitar and bass swap with each other. Someone else jumps on drums (even if they suck!), drummer jumps on keyboards.
The point of doing this isn’t to make amazing music immediately (it’s completely fine if it sounds straight-up bad), it’s to take a new approach to a familiar situation.
I guarantee from my own personal experience (time and time again) you will make music that you wouldn’t have expected. When you all switch back to your main instruments again, you’ll all be in a better frame of mind and more interesting ideas will occur.
You’ll also get a little buzz from it too. Getting into a flow state where all your creative energy is buzzing around is a natural high.
You can do this with any creative field…
- Try making art with new materials – maybe you try to draw physically instead of digitally
- Try writing in an unfamiliar style – maybe you try poetry instead of writing fictional stories
Then once you’re done with that exercise, come back to your main medium and start creating.
The perspective shift will make you more receptive to exploring new ideas, and the quality of work you get out of it will increase.
SIDE NOTE: try creating within a set of stylistic rules sometimes. For example:
- write a song that just sits on one chord the whole time and find a way to make it interesting
- paint a picture using just shades of one colour
- write a story entirely in reverse
It can often be easier to create from this place, because you immediately have direction (and a challenge that you need to get creative with to overcome). Having a million different possibilities and directions to take something in can lead to analysis paralysis.
6. Surround Yourself with Inspiring Creative People
Following on from that last point, you want to surround yourself with people that inspire you as much as possible. This one is also underrated.
Since we’re creatives, it’s ideal that these people are in the field that we’re making art in, but it doesn’t entirely have to be that way.
Maybe you have a friend that has a unique way of thinking. This person exposes you to new perspectives and ideas that get you thinking in a new way that’s outside of your usual patterns. It could even be your stoner friend with weird conspiracy theories!
I’m lucky that I’m a musician and I naturally get to surround myself with creative people as a result of being in multiple bands, but it wasn’t always like this for me – I wasn’t always in bands. I always found people that could trigger the abstract part of my brain though.
Indirectly, interactions with these friends would trigger my creative energy. I would often find that after a period of socialising I could pick up my instrument and write music a lot easier than if I had just been at home bashing away for hours.
Creative People Inspire Creative Energy
It’s also just inspiring to have creative people around you and to see what art they’re working on. Conversations about their projects spark new ideas and give you new motivation to work on your own projects. It expands your ideas of what’s possible to achieve and engages your mind to think of new ways to innovate.
For example, there’s a band called King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard that some of you may be familiar with. They released 5 albums in 2017, all while touring and keeping busy with peripheral music industry things (like putting on their own music festival that year!).
Just seeing that something as crazy as releasing that much music in one year is inspirational. Maybe you don’t release 5 albums, but you go ahead and release 2. Maybe you even decide to put on your own musical festival.
Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine is one of the most creative and innovative guitarists out there. He has a great course on Masterclass where he throws a bunch of left-field ideas at you and dives deep on finding your own creative voice on your instrument. Being able to gain wisdom from such a creative force will allow you to be more creative as a side-effect.
Humans are empathetic creatures, so being around creative energy inspires a surge of creative energy within you. Do your best to find your tribe if you want to fast track your results.
Creative energy can seem mysterious. It’s as though it just falls out of the sky and into your lap sometimes.
But when we analyse it, we can see that there are triggers and patterns to it. By doing the things in this article, we can effectively hack the system and use this to our advantage.
Summing it up, these things are:
- Free association – un-stifle your mind and engage more abstract thinking
- Take supplements and nootropics that boost your creative energy, such as Mind Lab Pro
- Meditate, meditate, meditate – it will get your mind into the best possible position to channel creative energy and trigger flow states
- Get your body moving – break up physical and mental patterns to get new energies flowing through your body
- Expose yourself to new styles and challenges – these give you new perspectives and creative obstacles to overcome
- Surround yourself with creative people – you will absorb their creative energy yourself
Do these things and I guarantee that it will become second nature with enough practice. I’m at the point now where I can engage the more abstract aspects of myself on command and use it to my advantage.
No longer do you need to be frustrated and baffled by creative blocks! Done.
Let me know what value you gained from this article in the comments down below. Tell me what you’re going to try out, what exercises/methods from this list have worked for you, and what other methods not mentioned here have had a positive impact on your creative energy. I’d love to add some more to my creative arsenal! You can also reach me on email if that’s more your thing.
Let’s all inspire and help each other to keep innovating.