“New Year. New Ideas” was my 2018 New Year’s card concept. How are creative ideas generated and what tools can be used to spark the process? I reached out to my team for input and conducted my own research, resulting in an impressive list of suggestions.
The following concepts may appear simple but each is grounded in brain science! Take a look and let me know your thoughts.
I’ve been walking and talking for many years with writer Sheila Wilensky, who dubs our journeys, “walk talks.” We’ve long marveled at the fun and effective brainstorming that takes place during these wanderings. It turns out there is research behind this. As I found in a Psychology Today article,
To see if casual walking would boost creativity, Marily Oppezzo and Daniel Schwartz of Stanford University had people think up new ideas while sitting at a desk or walking on a treadmill at their own comfortable pace. Their study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, showed that people did better while walking than sitting.
Another proponent of walks is one of my artistic heroines, illustrator and writer Maira Kalman. At a Creative Morning talk she said, “When I walk, I have an empty, happy brain and I see things.”
Doing something differently can access new ways of thinking. It is also a technique for healthy aging, as I discovered in the book Ikigai, The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles:
Presented with new information, the brain creates new connections and is revitalized. That is why it is so important to expose yourself to change, even if stepping outside your comfort zone means feeling a bit of anxiety.
My colleagues’ contributions in this area:
Carol Bradsen: Once a month buy a magazine from a completely different industry than your own. Like science, tech, architecture, or art. Learn something new and cross pollinate ideas.
Gabriela Fleming: Change your workspace. Go work somewhere you usually don’t. Maybe work outside, or from home, or even just move/change the layout of the things on your desk!
Sara Hubbs: Switch mediums!!!! If you are stuck (creatively speaking), try painting or writing or dancing!
Eleonore Rowe: Explore new and unknown things. Try something out you never did before.
Another idea I love is the artist date, coined by Julia Cameron in the classic book, The Artist’s Way. Cameron describes it as “a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you.” I have embraced this concept and try to do it as often as I can.