Are we born creative, or can we exercise creativity?
Contrary to what we think and have always been told, creativity is not exclusively reserved for artists or creative people in general.
For a long time, it was thought that the creative process was conditioned by external agents (such as the muses we mentioned in the first article of the series) that came to inspire the creators.
Today, although science still doesn’t comprehend exactly how it happens, we do know that the creative process results from brain activity.
And we all have a brain, don’t we? Hopefully! 😆
Yes, there are people who seem to have been born with a special star illuminating their minds… They are always being creative, they think “outside the box,” they seem to find a solution to every problem and are continually coming up with something new and inspiring. 🌟
In fact, the creative process is very complex, and it’s different for everybody because it depends on how the two brain hemispheres (the right and the left side of the brain) communicate, and it also involves aspects that not all of us possess to the same extent, such as intelligence and memory.
A person with a creative mind will have a greater ability to take the tools they do have to find external resources and explore them until they find solutions.
However, the brain is an organ with enormous plasticity, meaning that it’s able to assimilate and learn constantly! 🧠
Practical suggestions for working those “creativity muscles”
Sociologist and psychologist Graham Wallas, known for a work still cited in copywriting today, “The Art of Thought,” stated that there are four stages in bringing an idea to light:
- Preparation: when we prepare ourselves by looking at the theme at hand. We can look for references by reading, researching, talking to people, etc.
- Incubation: the time during which we form the idea in our mind. This is usually imperceptible at the conscious level.
- Illumination: this is when the idea comes to the conscious mind. Have you seen that light bulb that usually represents an idea in comic books and cartoons? That’s it!
- Verification: this is the stage in which we will check to see if the idea is relevant and solves the problem.
Read, watch, speak and hear new things
To begin with, read! And read a lot. The more you read, the more you will exercise your mind and your creativity. Take a look at a very interesting article from our blog on the subject of reading and the need to step out of our comfort zones here!
You can’t stick to your tastes and preferences. Watch different movie genres, listen to other styles of music, learn new skills, try hobbies you never thought you would try before, talk to all kinds of people, not just your friends and family, and talk about all kinds of subjects, paying attention to the diversity of other people’s ideas and opinions.
Being open to other points of view not only improves your cultural background, but also strengthens your empathy, providing a broader, three-dimensional view of life.
Remember that you want to exercise your brain to stimula
te creativity, and that depends a lot on swimming in new waters!
In fact, by feeding it with novelty and variety, you will be exercising the brain and making it increasingly more capable of creating new associations. We need to consume ideas in order to produce ideas.
Get those synapses moving!
Rest and meditate, don’t push it
Our society has a negative opinion about leisure and relaxation.
Plato said that philosophers “enjoy leisure, talk in peace, and «take their time» with their arguments, having only the truth in mind.”
Therefore, in ancient times, leisure meant being able to devote oneself to thinking about the important questions of life in search of answers.
In our society, the values of effort, work, and the expectation of success have taken precedence over the priceless value of leisure.
If you want to stimulate creativity, you will have to give your mind time to think about nothing, so escape routine and value your moments of rest.
Sleep well, meditate, take walks in nature, enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while looking out the window leisurely…
Or lie on the bed, staring at the ceiling, and simply exist!
The processing of information carried out by the brain also requires breaks—so create moments to let your brain breathe!
You know when your computer is getting sluggish, and you use the “classic” turn-off-then-back-on-again fix? Suddenly, as if by magic, everything is fine again.
That’s it. Allow your brain to “reset”!
Research a lot and take notes
Look for diversified references, searching in different sources online and offline.
There are still physical libraries out there holding a wealth of information.
Oh, but you’ll have to leave the house? Great! And if possible, walk there.
As you enter, smell the books, listen to the silence, browse the shelves full of colorful book spines—each cover enclosing a mysterious world still unknown to you. Choose a book and enjoy feeling the pages with your fingertips… Browse through the pages, breathe in, breathe out…
Screens can’t give you that kind of satisfaction.
In fact, the brain understands and retains information better when we read on paper than in digital format. Screens are closely associated with brief interactions and immediate rewards, in addition to the excess of content that hinders our focus.
Obviously, online research has its advantages. For example, we can find, filter, and store a huge amount of information in a very short time. And to refine the search, we can also look for content in other languages. Most likely we will find new, different, or complementary information.
Write down in a paper notebook everything that you find interesting. Like a journal, but for collecting ideas. Write down anything that sounds good, stirs your emotions, seems original, etc. Even if it’s unrelated or out of context ideas, excerpts, quotes—write down whatever you find interesting in your research and in your daily life.
Alternatively, if you really don’t want to use a pen and paper, you can create what is known as a “swipe file” in digital format.
A swipe file is a common tool used by copywriters and creative writers, among other creative professionals. It consists of collecting phrases, ideas, slogans, tried and tested formulas, interesting excerpts, etc.
If you work in transcreation you can, for example, collect in your swipe file the so-called “untranslatables,” words that have no translation between your language and the target language, and write down effective alternatives as you find them.
These tools are great for future reference.
Whatever your notes are, no matter what format, you can review them to avert creative block, when you feel ideas are running away from you, and you will see how inspiring rereading them will be!
Focus on people and emotions
Talk to people. Not just online, but face to face. To be able to capture emotions, we must have access to body language and expressions, facial expressions, and tone of voice, and observe nervous twitches, mannerisms, etc.
No mastery of writing techniques can produce an effective “copy” without emotions. Emotions make your target relate to what you have written and want to read more, or want to act on what they have read.
Find out what several target audiences like and dislike.
Create a “profile” about the group, or groups, of people who will read your texts, and based on the profile you have drawn up, find the best tone of voice to get the attention of that particular audience.
The children, the teenagers, the elderly, the people in their mid-40s, the women and the men, the workers and the retired, the millennials, Generation X, the hipsters, the rockers, the surfers, the fitness and/or wellness fans, the housewives, the entrepreneurs, etc.
Observe what they listen to, what they see, how they think and how they speak, what they chose to comment on and what they chose to keep to themselves.
Find out what’s going on in the communities and in the world in general. Always be informed and up to date.
If you’re going to write content for a specific target audience, there’s nothing better than to know and relate to these people. This is the magic formula that will make them relate to what you are saying.
Another very important factor that many writers fail at: don’t write to show off your grammatical and stylistic skills with a lot of “big” words and a scholarly style. You are not being evaluated on your language skills, nor are you writing for yourself.
Therefore, write from the inside outward and always in a simple and accessible style because if people don’t fully understand your message, you have already failed to elicit emotions and relatability.
Stay with us and find more practical suggestions in the third and final part “Is being creative all it takes to be a copywriter?” here.