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Award-winning author Melissa Coleman shares her secrets to creativity

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have that strong creative spark in our adult existence as we did in our childhood?

Looking back forty odd-years or so, my playtime was in stark contrast to the productivity-focused mindset adults find themselves in today.

The best parts of my childhood were the hours, not spent at dance class or girl guides, but rather the time spent exploring or being lost in curiosities. These periods, rich in doing what seemed like nothing, were everything.

Playing pareidolia or sitting by a creek, watching the wind in the trees, or absently fooling around in the yard allowed my imagination to develop. These free play moments I credit to my rise as a storyteller.

The Oxford language dictionary defines the word creativity as "the use of imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work”.

While that may be true, creativity is more than that. Creativity is inherent. We are all born with this unique and wonderous skillset, and it’s up to each individual to cultivate it into their daily adult lives.

Formal education and what we call ‘life’ influence and stifles most creative impulses, resulting in adults becoming more analytical.

If you want to experience more creativity, one thing to realize is - creativity is not something that can be forced.

When children play creativity comes naturally.

The important thing to remember as adults is to encourage, nurture, stimulate, and value creativity.

One common roadblock I’ve encountered is the idea that creativity is an indulgence primarily for children because they have the time.

When was the last time you pruned your life of unnecessary concerns and obligations?

Adult leisure time is usually spent socializing, participating in sport or connected to electronic devices. These activities rarely require any imagination at all.

It’s all too easy to pull out your smartphone and find a world of entertainment at your fingertips so last month I took a hiatus from my devices because I needed to feel bored. Yes, you read that correctly.

Instead of escaping from boredom, immerse yourself in it, because a restless mind hungers for stimulation.

I’m sure parents have noticed that children with little to do eventually invent some weird and wonderful game to play. This is the beginning of the creative spark.

So, my new definition of boredom is - useful, productive monotony.

I get some of my best ideas from ennui time and then afterwards I have the opportunity to explore new topics, go off on a tangent and make connections from ideas.

One of the rewards of creativity is in the process itself.

On the other hand, scientific research says that physical exercise assists in adopting a more creative mindset by forcing you out of left-brain dominant thinking.

This is another medium I employ. I believe daily exercise initiates better sleep and in effect more lucid dreaming.

I wrote a short story based on a dream I had in 2017 and it received 5-star Readers Favorite reviews.

My voice recorder icon on my phone is on the front screen and it’s just in reach for when I wake up and mutter words, phrases and parts of dreams into it during the witching hour.

The important thing to remember is with dreaming once you become fully alert you quickly forget details and maybe even the whole dream altogether.

Brainstorming is a common technique. My goal is to generate as many ideas as possible in a relatively short span of time on one single topic. The trick is to not judge or be over critical of your thoughts and ideas. Not everything you write will be a great idea, but there’s no harm in writing it down in the first place.

There are so many ways to cultivate creativity and whether you are partial to any of these ideas or not, one thing to take out of this article is – just like everything you want to make happen, keep working at enjoying the process regularly.

Melissa Coleman is an Australian Young Adult author who recently won an honourable mention in the International Readers Favorite Awards for her latest novel Hidden City of Alchemy.

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