If you're one of those people who sits staring at your computer screen, waiting for inspiration to tap you on the shoulder, you are not alone. Wracking your brain for a burst of creativity doesn't come easily to everyone and you'd be forgiven for believing you're one of a kind and that these bursts only come at inopportune moments.
There's a school of thought that geniuses are born and not made but scientific research shows us that there are several simple tricks we can do to get a quick burst of inspiration that could be instrumental in our success.
Innovation psychologist Amantha Imber from Inventium told The Huffington Post Australia about five scientifically tested things you can do when you need some creative help. So here goes:
Look at an inspiring logo
Staring at logo or any image that you associate with creativity, has a significant impact on getting creative juices flowing. There was a study at Duke University in the U.S. where people looked at the Apple logo, and then IBM logo. Then, they'd engage in a problem solving task.
The people who'd been looking at the logos performed significantly better in an ideas generation task and were judged as being more creative, compared to those people who didn't look at the logos. It was only a brief exposure, just a few seconds. They weren't surrounded by the logos, it was all very simple but very effective.
Watch some comedy and have a giggle
Another study that showed by watching some comedy and making yourself laugh is an effective way to increase creativity. In this study they got people to watch a five minute bloopers show. Then they had to solve a puzzle that needed creative insight.
They found those who had watched a comedy versus those who only watched a maths video had better results. With writers, I suggest you take a short YouTube break, watch your favourite comedian, re runs of Friends or whatever floats your boat.
The best time to make good decisions is when our stomach isn't running on empty. Our stomachs produce the hormone ghrelin when we're hungry, and that can lead to more impulsive decision-making.
So if you're about to make a big decision it's good to grab a bite to eat first. You'll be able to think less impulsively and more creatively.
Challenge your assumptions
This means you need to think about a problem you're trying to solve and write a list of all the things you assume to be true about this problem. Once you've written your list, you need to challenge each assumption. Ask yourself, 'What if the opposite was true?' If you manage to crush your assumptions, you will stimulate creativity.
Get yourself some sunshine
This is simple but effective: put yourself in an environment that has the warm colours of a spectacular setting sun. Warm colours make us feel happier. Happiness boosts creativity. Simple.
Play with Lego
Research shows people's problem solving abilities improve after playing with Lego. One group had to 'kit-build': they had to build a specific building or object. The other group was given the freedom to 'free build' and create whatever they fancied.
When they'd finished building, both groups were given a creative task. The people who had to follow the rules and solve a well-defined problem performed much worse on a subsequent creative task than those who free-built.
Imagine you're on a date with somebody wonderful
A group of researchers at the University of Arizona hypothesised a link between mating and creativity among humans. In an experiment, people had to complete some creativity-based tasks. One group launched straight into the tasks while another was asked to imagine themselves on whatever your version of a 'hot date' might be.
Those assigned to the 'hot date' group performed significantly better on the creative tasks. Interestingly, the males were much more creative after envisioning themselves on a date with someone physically attractive. For the women, they were creative too, but only if they imagined themselves on a date with a person they also found to be trustworthy and reliable.