Do you remember what anyone wrote in your middle school yearbook?
Ms. Barton, the toughest, best teacher I had in eighth grade, wrote in my yearbook that I was the most creative student she had ever taught. I’ll never forget that.
Yet it’s all too easy to forget that unforgettable, unique blogs come from embracing your creativity.
Just take a look at most blogs about blogging or online marketing, and you’ll see that most posts are about making money, or metrics, or list building tactics.
It’s so easy to get lost in the rambling maze of “online marketing” and forget that thrumming core of ourselves that has driven us to create in the first place.
If you want to make a blog that bursts with energy and joy, a blog that your readers eagerly revisit again and again, stop looking for other people’s templates, and cultivate your own creativity.10 ways to unleash your creativity and have a creative breakthrough with your blog Click To Tweet
1. Zoom out
One of the dangers of creating our own businesses and blogs is that we often get too close to them to be able to think creatively.
When you feel stuck, get some distance from your blog. Get an outside perspective, see if you can look at the issue from a different angle, or think about how you would feel in 10 months if you make a certain decision.
By distancing yourself from your blog, you will see all sorts of opportunities you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. Blog post ideas will come bubbling to the surface.
This article by The Scientific American explains more about why psychological distance enhances creativity.
2. Get playful.
Have you ever noticed that kids are bursting with creativity? Especially young kids.
That’s because they live in a constant state of play.
When you are playful, you let your mind open to all different possibilities. Just as a stick can become a magic wand in a kid’s hand, your mind can more easily make surprising connections when you’re playful.
I tend to be waaaay too serious about my work. That’s when it stops being fun. That’s when innovation dies. But when I open myself to asking, What if? I’m able to create things that truly delight both myself and my readers.
Learn more about creativity and play in this article by Creative Something.
3. Do deep work.
In this fantastic podcast about deep work, Cal Newport talks about the importance of taking time to focus on higher level, creative work.
He says that we need to train ourselves to focus for intensive period of times, to give ourselves space for creative breakthroughs. And, big surprise, social media is one of the main enemies of doing the deep work he talks about.
So carve out times for intensive, deep work. Dive into your writing and creating without any distractions. Silence your phone. Ban social media. Get into the zone.
You’ll be amazed at what you can create.
For a closer look at deep work, check out Cal Newport’s book, called, unsurprisingly, Deep Work. (Affiliate link)
4. Commit and ritualize.
We creative souls just love to wait until inspiration hits. We like to see our work as a fickle, magical thing.
But waiting for a lightening bolt of creative energy isn’t going to help us produce truly original blogs.
What does work to make us more creative and innovative?
A rock hard commitment to doing the work day after day, week after week.
That doesn’t mean we need to blog everyday. Quite the opposite. Instead, find out what works for you, decide what you can commit to, and then stick to it like a dog to a pizza crust.
When we commit, and we set up structures for doing the work, it becomes habitual to cut through all of the fears and other bullshit that get in the way of creating.
In The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp (Affiliate link), she writes that the first step to creativity is consistent hard work, and the way to that consistency is creating a ritual that lets you know it’s time to get down to business.
Hers is jumping in a cab and going to the gym. Other artists might light a candle or say a prayer.
The bottom line? Choose a schedule and a ritual that works for you and then do it religiously.
5. Tap into your “first thoughts”
My favorite type of writing is called Writing Practice, and it was invented (if one can truly invent a way of writing) by Natalie Goldberg.
When you do writing practice, you sit down and you write for a certain amount of time. You don’t stop writing until the timer sounds. And you give yourself permission to write whatever comes up.
Goldberg writes, ““If you are not afraid of the voices inside you, you will not fear the critics outside you. Besides, those voices are merely guardians and demons protecting the real treasure, the first thoughts of the mind.”
Often, your first thoughts are what’s really true for you. They come from the core. But it’s all too easy to doubt and question and change – to shy away from those truths.
Sometimes, your first impulse is the best one. When it is, you can feel it. Don’t be afraid to follow it.
For more on writing practice (and to have your life as a blogger utterly transformed), read Natalie’s book Writing Down the Bones. (Affiliate link)
While tapping into your first, deep, true thoughts is hugely important, sometimes it’s coming up with many ideas that will help you find the one that works.
Most copywriters write 20 or 30 headlines for every single ad, sales page, and blog post they write. Often, the first few that you come up with are stale and overused.
By forcing yourself to keep going, you push yourself to be more creative, and you often come up with ideas that you never would have otherwise.
The next time you are trying to come up with a blog post headline, an opt-in freebie, a product, or anything else for your audience, don’t accept the first one that comes to mind.
Instead, set a timer and write down as many ideas as you can. Then go back and choose the idea that looks the best.
For more on creative brainstorming, read this excellent article from Inc. about 10 longtime brainstorming techniques that still work.
7. Have adventures
Have you ever noticed that getting out of your box helps you think out of your box, too?
Adventures help you see things in a new light, get distance from your work, and invoke that sense of play you need to be truly creative.
And you don’t need to leave your city to have an adventure. Go explore a neighborhood you’ve never gone to before. Take yourself on a food tour. Even explore a different route to a place you often go.
While you’re on your adventure, be present. Notice the new smells and sounds. Take photos. Look for beauty. When you come back to your laptop, your creative juices will flow.
This article in the Atlantic shows the link between travel and creativity.
The author Brent Crane writes, “New sounds, smells, language, tastes, sensations, and sights spark different synapses in the brain.”
So…if you can travel far away, do it. If not, give yourself a new sensory experience in your own backyard.
One of my favorite TED Talks argues that procrastination is one of the key habits of original thinkers.
I am an implementer. I get an idea and go for it.
But I’ve found that by doing that, I frequently create things I don’t love – or build business structures I don’t really want. (Oops!)
So idea marination doesn’t just boost your creativity – it can also prevent you from spending time and energy on ideas that don’t go anywhere.
If you’re struggling with an idea or a project for your business, give yourself the time and space to let your idea marinate. What comes out may just be a lot yummier than what you had originally planned.
9. Work within a structure
I have long had a love-hate relationship with marketing and blogging formulas.
On one hand, formulas are irresistible. “You mean all I have to do is follow these 5 steps, and I’ll have a wildly successful blog? Sign me up!”
On the other, they don’t work on their own.
In fact, when I was thinking about creativity versus formulas, I initially decided that creativity and formulas were mortal enemies. Much like Harry Potter and Voldemort, “Neither can live while the other survives.”
But then I remembered my college days as a poet. I loved poetry forms, because they gave me a structure to push my creative thinking. They forced me to write more melodically. Many of the poems that came out of structures were better and more interesting than my free verse creations.
So I had to look at formulas a bit differently. I had to admit that often, they do work. Following what another blogger has done to build her business is a good way to build your own.
But. The only way to make a formula work for YOU is to infuse it with your creative ideas. Use the structure. Understand the underlying purpose for it. And then take a step back and think about how you can make it your own. And be ready to toss it if it’s not working.
10. Take leaps and be courageous
Let’s be honest. Creativity is risky.
It starts with an idea. An idea that may or may not work. It may even be an idea for a blog post. Or a webinar.
And in order to learn and grow as a blogger and a creative human, you must put it out there. You must let your curiosity and desire to share outweigh your fear that it won’t work.
Whenever I create something new, something that makes me a little uncomfortable, I first Google the hell out of it. I watch webinars on how to do it. I listen to podcasts about it. I read blog posts about it.
Part of it is a thirst for knowledge. But part of it – I admit – is out of fear.
And what comes out isn’t as original as what it could be.
My webinars come out sounding a lot like other webinars. My videos sound like other videos.
But in my blog posts, where I don’t have that fear, I let my creativity loose. And what emerges are original ideas that resonate with people.
So my final suggestion to you?
Take the leap. Do your thing. Dare to be different.
The next time you feel stuck with your blog, do this:
- Zoom out.
- Get playful.
- Do deep work.
- Commit and ritualize.
- Tap into first thoughts.
- Have adventures.
- Work within a structure.
- Be courageous.