By Molly O’brien

Are you stuck in a monotonous routine where nothing seems to spark your imagination? Does everything around you seem to be a dull gray? Forcing yourself to be creative doesn’t work, but you can try some of the known channels of creativity. What are they? Movement is one. Why do new ideas surface when we are taking a walk, swimming laps or stacking wood? Because the brain’s managerial network is relaxed. Being creative involves much more than sitting and thinking. The body isn’t merely a passive collaborator in our inspirations. It is an active participant. When we engage in rhythmical body movements cognitive patterns fall away, awakening our creative self.

Art is another channel of creativity. You don’t need elaborate art materials to create artwork. You can use everyday household items like string, small pieces of hardware, fabric and photographs to make collages. If you are a frustrated painter, this would be an ideal time to pick up your paints and brush again. Spontaneous art is another avenue to creativity. It is unplanned, which allows for stimulation of the unconscious mind. Finger painting is an excellent example. Just as the paint moves from our fingers to the page with fluidity, our brains start to function with new fluidity, inviting fresh ideas. The same is true for other media —splatter painting, inventing dolls from scraps, etc.

Another great way to jump-start your creativity is through writing. Journal writing is ideal to start with. Sit down at least once a day for a minimum of 15 minutes and write whatever is on your mind: what you’re doing, what you’re feeling, even what your body sensations are at that moment. Just keep writing for the full 15 minutes. “Stream of consciousness” writing stimulates parts of the brain that ordinarily operate undercover — that is, the unconscious mind. By writing without preconceived thoughts, the brain bypasses typical narrative and thinks more poetically.