The Little But Really Useful Guide to Creativity

My name is Leo Babauta, and I’m the creator and writer of Zen Habits. I’m married with six kids, I live in San Francisco (previously on Guam), I’m a writer and a runner and a vegan. Read more: My Story.

The Little But Really Useful Guide to Creativity

“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” - Albert Einstein

It’s easier than ever to be creative, to create, to imagine and make what’s imagined become reality.

It’s also tougher than ever, with distractions surrounding us in ways never before imagined.

No matter what kind of creative type you are — writer, painter, musician, marketer, blogger, photographer, designer, parent, business owner — you are likely always looking for inspirations, for ways to let loose your creative genius.

And while there are millions of creativity tips on the Internet, I thought I’d share the ones I’ve found most useful — the ones that I’ve tried and tested and found to be right.

Here they are, in no order at all:

  • Play.
  • Don’t consume and create at the same time — separate the processes.
  • Shut out the outside world.
  • Reflect on your life and work daily.
  • Look for inspiration all around you, in the smallest places.
  • Start small.
  • Just get it out, no matter how crappy that first draft.
  • Don’t try for perfect. Just get it out there, asap, and get feedback.
  • Constantly make it better.
  • Ignore the naysayers.
  • But let criticism help you grow.
  • Teach and you’ll learn.
  • Shake things up, see things in new ways.
  • Apply things in other fields to your field, in ways not done before.
  • Drink ridiculous amounts of coffee.
  • Write all ideas down immediately.
  • Turn your work into play.
  • Play with kids.
  • Get out, move, see new things, talk to new people.
  • Read wildly different things. Especially stuff you disagree with.
  • Get lots of rest. Overwork kills creativity.
  • Don’t force it. Relax, play, it will start to flow.
  • Allow your mind to wander. Allow distractions, when you’re looking for inspiration.
  • Then shut them off when you’re going to create.
  • Do it when you’re excited.
  • When you’re not, find something else to be excited about.
  • Don’t be afraid to be stupid and silly.
  • Small ideas are good. You don’t need to change the world — just change one thing.
  • When something is killing your creativity, kill it.
  • Stop reading creativity advice, clear away everything, and just create.
  • Most of all, have fun doing it.

“Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” - Lewis Carroll

Post written by Leo Babauta.

4 thoughts on “The Little But Really Useful Guide to Creativity

  1. I love Zen Habits, one of my favourite blogs. However, I hope you’ll post the more complete Lewis Carroll quote, it puts the quote into its more complete context: “There is no use trying, said Alice; one can’t believe impossible things. I dare say you haven’t had much practice, said the Queen. When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

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