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The Creativity Trigger


While reading one of my favorite blogs I came across a post about tapping into creativity through mundane routines.

The author, Mark McGuinness (who has practiced hypnotherapy) suggests using regularly scheduled routines to trick the brain into “creative mode”–similar to the way you might trick your body into being sleepy:

  • always going to bed at the same time
  • listening to the same music or sound while lying in bed
  • having the same bedtime routine

It’s a great method–so great, in fact, that many creative types employ it (possibly without realizing how great the effect).

500 Words, No More, No Less

One of my favorite examples of Creativity Routines comes from Graham Greene, who was notorious for his incredibly strict writing schedule–500 words per day, no more, no less. Even if he was in the middle of a sentence, Greene would put down his pen and stop at 500 words.

It worked for him.

That kind of rigid structure might seem crazy to many creative types… but think about how knowing when you’re done for the day (and exactly what you expect from yourself) might free up other parts of your consciousness. Can you imagine being free from the pressure to “write something good” or “finish the book”… just to write 500 words, good, bad, or otherwise?

The Creativity Trigger

Another “creativity trick” is having a specific Creativity Trigger… a specific thing that reminds you (in an emotionally positive way) of the act of creating.

I’ve shared a picture of a few of my own Creativity Triggers… each of the objects in the photo has emotional significance to me, and reminds me of some specific moment when I felt particularly creative.

I started collecting my Creativity Triggers absent mindedly (they sit on a shelf next to my desk), without realizing that’s what they were… when I’ve struggled with some creative block, I found myself gazing at one or another of them, or tossing one in my hand as I thought about what was stumping me.

I’ll often find myself remembering where it came from, or experiencing a split-second emotional recall. Next thing I know, I’m off to a creative mind-space again!

I could be better about scheduling routines (and sticking to them), but I’m pretty happy with my Creativity Triggers–and getting myself jumpstarted when necessary.

Actors and Creativity Routines

I mention all of this here because I find that Actors often struggle to stick with their daily Acting Bread and Butter (submitting online, sending postcards, checking AEA, Backstage, etc. for auditions). These are the things that eventually lead to work… it’s so important, and so often overlooked.

Often because it’s not particularly enjoyable, and doesn’t feel particularly creative.

How could you change that for yourself through the use of a Creativity Routine, and perhaps a Creativity Trigger?

What works for you?


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