Even the greatest minds have been known to suffer from stifled creativity. “The brain is an amazing organ. It begins the moment you wake up and continues until you arrive at the office.” – Frost, Robert
It is a common misconception that only highly intelligent people are creative. In fact, studies show that once you reach an I.Q. of about 120, which is slightly above average, intelligence and creativity are unrelated.
That means that even if you’re not smarter than most people, you can still wield amazing creative powers when writing copy.
How I lost my creativity
But why are there so few highly creative people? Because there are bad habits that people pick up as they grow up that act as mental barriers to creative thinking in the brain. And, like any bad habit, they can be broken if you are willing to put in the effort.
I’ve lost my creativity before, and it’s not a pleasant experience. So, to assist you in avoiding this, here are eight of the worst bad habits that could be holding you back every day.
1. Creating and evaluating at the same time
You can’t drive a car in first gear and reverse at the same time, no matter how you define it. Similarly, you should not attempt to use multiple types of thinking at the same time. You’ll wear out your mental gears.
Creating entails coming up with new ideas, visualizing them, planning ahead, and considering the possibilities. Evaluating entails analyzing and judging, dissecting ideas and categorizing them as good or bad, useful or useless.
Most people evaluate too soon and too frequently, resulting in less creation. You must separate creation from evaluation in order to generate more and better ideas. Create a large number of ideas first, and then evaluate their worth later.
2. The Expert Syndrome
This is a major issue in any field where there are numerous gurus who tell you their success secrets. Listening is important, but blindly following advice can lead to stifled creativity.
Some of the world’s most successful people did what others said would never work. They knew something about their own concept that even the best attention-grabbing gurus didn’t. Every path to success is unique.
3. Fear of failure
With a career record of 714 home runs, most people remember baseball legend Babe Ruth as one of the greatest hitters of all time.
He was, however, a master of the strike out. That’s because he always aimed for home runs rather than singles or doubles. Ruth either succeeded spectacularly or failed spectacularly.
Nobody wants to make blunders or fail. However, if you try too hard to avoid failure, you will also miss out on success.
It has been suggested that in order to increase your chances of success, you should aim to make more mistakes. To put it another way, if you take more chances, you will succeed more often. Those few truly brilliant ideas you generate will more than compensate for all of your blunders.
4. Fear of ambiguity
The majority of people prefer things to make sense. Unfortunately, life is not so orderly. It’s not just about slick formulas and the right trigger words. Some things you will never understand, and some problems you will never solve.
I once worked with a client who sold a product through direct mail. Every rule in the book was broken by his order form. But it was more effective than any other order form he had tried. Why? I’m not sure.
What I do know is that the majority of great creative ideas emerge from a whirlwind of chaos. To overcome creative stifling, you must cultivate a part of yourself that is at ease with mess and confusion. You should get used to things that work even if you don’t understand why.
5. Lack of confidence
Every creative act is accompanied by some level of uncertainty. A small amount of self-doubt is beneficial.
However, in order to devise and implement effective problem-solving strategies, you must have faith in your abilities. Confidence also keeps you from becoming one of those people who never stops talking.
Much of this comes from experience, but it also comes from understanding how creativity works.
When you realize that ideas often appear crazy at first, that failure is simply a learning experience, and that nothing is impossible, you will be on your way to becoming more confident and creative.
Instead of categorizing the world as possible or impossible, categorize it as what you’ve tried and what you haven’t tried. There are a million different paths to success.
6. Discouragement from other people
Even if you have an open mind and the ability to see what is possible, the majority of those around you will not. They will tell you to conform, be sensible, and not upset the apple cart in a variety of subtle ways. They want to scare you away from being naïve.
They should be ignored. Every victory is preceded by a prediction of failure. And once you’ve had a big win, all the haters will quiet down and see you for what you are: a creative force to be reckoned with.
7. Being overwhelmed by information
The condition is known as “analysis paralysis,” and it occurs when you spend so much time thinking about a problem and cramming your brain with so much information that you lose the ability to act.
It has been said that information is what food is to the body. That is correct. However, just as you can overeat, you can also overthink, which leads to stifled creativity.
Every successful person I’ve ever met understands when to stop gathering information and start acting. They learn to write articles quickly. Many people believe in the “ready, fire, aim” philosophy of business success, believing that acting on a good plan today is preferable to waiting for a perfect plan tomorrow.
8. Being trapped by false limits
If you ask a copywriter for a great idea, you’ll get a solution involving persuasive words. If you ask a designer for a great idea, you will get a solution that includes visuals. If you ask a blogger for a great idea, you will get a solution that includes a blog.
We are all the result of our experiences. Our limitations, however, are self-imposed. They are fictitious boundaries. Only by forcing yourself to look beyond what you know and are comfortable with can you expand your creativity.
Be willing to try anything. Experiment with things that are out of your comfort zone. Consider how people in unrelated fields do their jobs. What appears to be impossible today may appear to be surprisingly doable tomorrow.
Don’t be concerned if you recognize some of these issues in your own stifled creativity. Indeed, rejoice! Knowing what is stifling your creativity is the first step toward breaking down those barriers.