Three Simple Ways To Foster Creativity

Title and tools on cutting mat

The long, dark winter months, especially in Chicago, tend to deflate the inspiration to create or be creative. There are many different ways each of us leaps over these roadblocks to keep being inspired. A clean workspace, a new sketchbook, and even new pens are all simple ways to get that spark glowing in our brains. Today we’re diving deeper into some simple tips, tricks, and ideas to get your idea light bulb glowing again.

Create time for creativity

Set the time

We set aside time for lunch, conference calls, and in-person meetings. Why not make time every day, or simply once a week, to focus on our creative endeavors? It’s not just about being more creative, just taking some time for yourself to just BE is equally important. If time isn’t on your side, try to merge a lunch break with a creativity break. Just like your body, finding time to exercise your brain by thinking about what inspires or motivates you is important for growth. One of the best ways to help people maximize their creative potential is to allow them to do something they love; with freedom [1] and self-leadership [2] comes a high level of creativity. Why wait until you HAVE to think creative? Starting with a goal of 15-30 minutes each day or each week to think and do something creative will set the tone for the new year. Got a bad habit? Swap it out with a creative one like sketching or creative writing. Try arriving at work (or your home office) 30 minutes early to take advantage of quiet time without emails, social media, or texting. Just you, your right brain, and latent ideas waiting to become sparks of innovation and creativity.

Lightbulbs drawn on grid paper and post-its

Connect the dots of inspiration

Take a look around the art world dotted around your community. In Chicago, there is a wealth of free galleries, exhibits, books, and even music concerts that showcase other artists’ work and creativity. If you don’t live in a big city, there is literally millions of places to be inspired online or at your local bookstore. Looking to other people outside of your profession for inspiration is a great way to stimulate your right brain to be more creative. No matter who you are, human brains thrive off of new visual stimuli. This often leads to a great foundation for you to become inspired. Make time during the week, especially during off-peak hours, to walk through a museum, gallery, or artist studio. Create some “me time” appointments for a late lunch; your body will be grateful and your mind will be well prepared to soak up the experience. By surrounding yourself with other’s work, your brain naturally shifts from analytical to creative mode. Bring a sketchbook or journal to write down artists whom you admire, materials that you enjoyed seeing, or even color palettes that you like. Something as simple as a color can bring a wealth of inspiration.

Scribbles on brown scrap paper



There’s nothing better than a fresh blank page of a new sketchbook to open up a flow of ideas and insight. Paired with a brand new pen (we LOVE the Flair felt-tip), sketchbooks become infinite vehicles for writing down ideas to gain insight and creativity. However, some people can find a blank sketchbook intimidating. If you’re feeling stuck or unmotivated, try journaling with visuals. In a study conducted by the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University, true insight involves suddenly seeing a problem in a new light, often without awareness of how that new light was switched on.[3] Simple doodling can be a great way to springboard ideas into insight, which will lead to that “AHA!” moment for creativity. It all starts with putting pen to paper, even if you have nothing to draw. The immediacy of drawing or writing can spark a million synapses in the brain that start to bring latent ideas to life. We often start with a question or concept and simply build off if that. “I need to _____” “I want to ______” “How do I feel about ________?” These are all great starting points to start populating your new sketchbook in hopes that insight and creativity will emerge. Our Simple Tips to Improve Your Handwriting is also a great starting point, once you get that sketchbook going!

Try this simple exercise: In your sketchbook, quickly scribble and doodle at random in the center. Take a bit of time to look at the chaotic marks and begin to place words in the empty spaces. For even more of a challenge, try turning the whole scribble into an object or story by adding more objective visuals and text in and around the lines. This is also a fun way to create an abstract coloring book page. Fill in the spaces between the lines with blocks of color for a simple meditative exercise.

How do you get your spark back when you’re feeling uninspired? From time to time, Ink Factory hosts workshops to “Think Like Ink” and up your visual note-taking game. Give us a shout and we’ll let you know when the next one is on the calendar!

[1] Gruys, Melissa L., Munshi, Natasha V., Dewett, Todd C., When Antecedents Diverge: Exploring Novelty and Value as Dimensions of Creativity, Thinking Skills and Creativity 6, p. 132-137, 2011.

[2] DiLiello, Trudy C., Houghton, Jefferey D., Maximizing Organizational Leadership Capacity for the Future Toward a Model of Self-leadership, Innovation and Creativity, in: Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 21, Nr. 4, p. 319-337, 2006.

[3] Mark Jung-Beeman, Edward M. Bowden, Jason Haberman, Jennifer L. Frymiare, Stella Arambel-Liu, Richard Greenblatt, Paul J. Reber, John Kounios / Neural Activity When People Solve Verbal Problems with Insight – Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, United States of America, April 2004 | Volume 2 | Issue 4