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.


Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Bonnie Johnson's PostOne of my all time favourite books, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, is becoming a Disney movie directed by Tim Burton (suitably).  Alice In Wonderland!  And one of my all time favourite actors is in it as well.  Johnny Depp plays the mad hatter.  How perfect is that!  It is due out in March 2010.johnny-depp-as-the-mad-hatter-tim-burton-alice-in-wonderland

I remember my grandmother reading the book to me when I was visiting the summer I was seven.  I remember lying on my back under the shade of a tree listening to the tale and just being thrilled by all of its crazy twists and turns.  The imagination used in this story is quite amazing.  Especially when you learn that the original story was first told to three young girls (one named Alice) by the Reverand Charles Lutwidge Dodgson in 1862 while rowing a boat for 5 miles up the River Thames.  Three years later he published the story under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll.Alice's Adventures In Wonderland

The book holds so many fun memories for me.  I was able to enjoy it all over again when my son was old enough for the story.  When he was small and he sneezed we always would quote the Duchess in the story and say out loud together:

“Speak roughly to your little boy

and beat him when he sneezes,

He only does it to annoy

because he knows it teases”

Characters from Alice In Wonderland

The novel has inspired numerous book, film and television adaptations.  I am very excited to see the latest by Tim Burton.  The trailer has only just been released.

Richard Lawson of reviews the trailer but finds it disappointing.  Not me!  I think it looks great and I will be one of the first in line to watch it on the big screen this March.