How To Develop Habits of Creativity (According to Research)

In this post, you will understand how to develop habits of creativity. The steps are backed up by research and what the greatest artists of all time say about how to create.

5 Ways To Develop Habits of Creativity

Want to be more creative as a person? Try all of these regularly.

  • Educate yourself
  • Create experiments
  • Explore other curiosities
  • Work with other creatives
  • Collect and expand your ideas
  • Stay healthy
  • Don’t force it.

1. Educate Yourself

The first task you need to do is to be very, very interested in what you want to innovate.

Think of the most creative people you know in business or art. You see that they usually have a great understanding of the niche or topic. It was famously said that Elon Musk learned about rockets by reading and asking experts for advice before he tried to launch one.

Paul Graham said in his article about getting new ideas that ideas come to you when you get closer and closer to a field. The closer you get, the clearer things become. You’ll start to see patterns and inspiration for new ideas.

Some of the greatest medical innovations ever have been from people who dedicated their lives to that field. That’s not a coincidence.

One of the habits of creative minds is that they choose an area, problem, or sport and become obsessed with it.

So, step one, be interested in the industry or subject. Then, educate yourself as much as you can. This is one of the most important habits of creative minds.


How to be interested:

There are no two ways about it. You’re either interested, or you’re not. No one can teach you how to be interested in a thing you’re not.

Question: How can I be more interested in that one area? What can I do to know more about it?

What happens when you are interested in a thing:

  • You study it hard enough.
  • It becomes an extension of you, like everyone sees you and notices that thing either in your speech, dressing, or everything else.
  • You (day)dream about it.

Mistakes to avoid:

  • Don’t think about creativity by sitting about it, thinking. You have to combine thinking with creating, studying, and observing your results. Want to create a new house design in your country? Study about it, do the work, and keep records of your findings. Then, try again.
  • Don’t set a time limit on it. Research says time limitation isn’t the best benefit for creative people. You need to relax and have fun.

2. Create Experiments

Let’s run through some of the innovations and what breaking them down looks like.

An airplane is like a car that can fly. (car + fly)

A smartphone is like a miniature computer in your pocket. (computer + pant pocket).

There are so many combinations you can think of. Cars + batteries, house + batteries, alcohols + juice, lime + soda, etc.

Someone must have experimented with two things in their kitchen to try chicken and ketchup.

Another must have gotten tired of coffee and sugar, and then they told themselves to add milk or honey.

When you think about it this way, you see areas where you can create new experiments in your field. You can try to do this for many of the things you see every day. That’s you in innovation mode. Television is a light (from electricity) + drama (from going to live performances in theatre).

For instance, I am into SEO and fiction ghostwriting. I’ve thought about Search Engine Optimization and fiction a couple of times.

Naval Ravikant said it better when he said:

When you combine things you’re not supposed to combine, you get amazing results.

How to create experiments:

  • You need thick skin to create experiments. People are going to laugh at you for trying in the first place. And since your first or first hundred couple of experiments won’t lead to anything meaningful, you need a very THICK skin to keep going.
  • Understand both things you’re trying to combine. You have to know the details of a couple of things before connecting or trying to combine them effectively. You don’t want to experiment by pouring water into acid.
  • Narrow down. You can’t do much when you think too broad. You will have difficulty starting a new blog, but you might be up to something big when you narrow it down to a blog for self-leaners.

3. Explore Other Curiosities

Remember the last point: you have to combine things you shouldn’t normally combine, like batteries and cars.

Make it an active part of your life to learn something you wouldn’t have gone out to learn on a normal day.

Try to find more information when you find something moving or inspiring in the news or on social media.

I was once inspired by Cathy Ames of East of Eden. I loved female leads like The Queen Gambit, and that combination with skills in fiction writing gave birth to The Mystery Around Lola.

If you like something outside your field, you should pay more attention and explore it more. You can create magic with it, just like Steve Jobs was said to have added his experience in Caligraphy to make the first Apple products a lot better.

If something excites you or makes you feel awe, you should spend time with it. Explore it a little more. I did that with stories I liked and essays I enjoyed reading. Scientists say taking time to explore some awe is beneficial to your mental health, and it is one of the habits of creative minds.

Have you seen yourself drawing connections between two unrelated fields before? That’s your mind giving you new ideas from the materials you have fed it.

“Awe has two fundamental components, say researchers who study the emotion. It is a response to encountering something more vast, complex, or mind-blowing than we had conceived of either physically or conceptually. The experience also induces a change in how we see the world, producing ‘little earthquakes in the mind.’”

Awe, Wonder and the human mind

4. Work With Other Creatives

Although you need to spend a lot of time alone to enhance your creativity, free from anxiety, reflecting on problems you want to solve, it is also important to talk to other people. Not just people but intelligent, creative people.

One of the habits of creative minds is that they know that great ideas are not really great until you share them with a few people who can question the logic behind them.

5. Collect And Expand Your Ideas

Ideas are like seeds. You need to cultivate them and watch them bear more fruits.

Guess what happens when you try to create a lot more. You get even better or more ideas.

As a fiction author, the times I have lots of ideas is when I am in the middle of writing a book that’s a long way to go. This is weird, but that’s how it works.

In Learning How To Learn, researchers say as your mind begins to understand a concept better, you begin to draw a connection to all the things you are learning.

For instance, let’s say you’re starting to learn mathematics by studying a book. In chapter one, you read about Algebra. Chapter 3, you are into advanced calculus. Your mind starts seeing patterns or using previous information it’s stored about Algebra.

The same applies to the other areas of your life in general. You have studied human behaviors in biology. Now that you’re reading about behavioral marketing, some ideas from your biology class seem to give you more insights about behavioral marketing. On the surface, they seem unrelated. Later, you want to apply the knowledge in real life, so you take the knowledge to an industry that is even more different. Then, you have to create new ideas. If you really understand it, you get ideas easily.

So, one of the habits of creative minds is to collect ideas, more than that, to act on them. Test them. Improve them. You need to do this consistently to understand what makes great ideas and bad ones.

Maybe not in a grand way, like trying to create an airplane that can disappear. You can take a subtle approach, like talking or writing about it. The more you do that, the more you get a better understanding, and getting more valuable ideas and insights.

6. Stay Healthy

You need to be as healthy as possible at all times to get good ideas. Your body and mind are the sources of your creativity, and your health status will determine what you let in or what comes out in terms of creativity.

habits of creative minds: sleep

7. Don’t force it

Your best ideas will come during your diffuse thinking states, like when you’re doing laundry, in the shower, or riding a bike.

Unlike focused thinking, The diffuse thinking state is when you work on something you do without much focus, like walking, running, washing dishes, etc.

The best thing you can do for yourself when you get overwhelmed with a problem is to sleep. Sleep relaxes your brain and body and helps you to become more creative. It lets you focus less on the problem, and you can actually dream up new ideas.

Develop Habits of Creativity With Practice

You can increase your creativity with time and practice. Spend as much time creating experiments to enhance the flow of new ideas.