3 Tips for Staying Creative.

We all have a hive of unleashed creative energy locked in our skulls. It’s mostly intangible, hidden away behind an impenetrable, concrete block of a door.

This door is connected to the mother of all hydraulic, digit-decapitating door hinges. It’s programmed to be closed and keeping it open to let out the creativity requires coyote-squashing, anvil type doorstops.

Over 26 years’ experience in design has taught me that it’s all about keeping an open mind. The same creative philosophy follows me into writing.

Everyone’s personality dictates different characteristics for their own doorstops. These are mine. I hope they can help you.

Doorstop 1: Get Some Decent Sleep

That would mean more than six consecutive hours of sleep. Those Z’s from your nostrils are doorstop fodder. The more Z’s there are, the fatter those anvils become. Pack them in tight, or those anvils will come tumbling down like cornflakes. That foggy confusion from lack of sleep, according to science, hinders cognitive processes essential for creativity. I was a sound sleeper all my life. Now, a three-hour consecutive stretch is cause for major celebration. So follows the consequence of having babies.

From this, I can tell you that sleep deprivation is crippling. The lowest levels of my own creativity were while I was sleep deprived. Sleep makes everything do-able. A well-rested body and mind makes it possible to hold forth on hurting the tantrum-throwing two-year-old. It also helps with finding the strength to bite your knuckles, instead of punching somebody. (Punching people can be complicated).

Sufficient sleep can mean the difference between organising a candle lit picnic in the lounge and not crumbling into the foetal position, leaving the family in darkness as a result of missing the electricity bill on the to-do list. Sufficient sleep opens up a translucent awareness. This is crucial if you want to catch that character as she flits through your mind while you’re stuck in traffic. If you’re sleep deprived, you’ll miss her.

Doorstop 2: Don’t Be Sentimental

Creativity is ever evolving. An idea can start as a tiny dot and morph into a conglomeration of universes. It will never stop unless you tell it to.

It’s pointless hanging on to an idea for the sake of an idea. Very often, the idea you start with is not the masterpiece you end up with. It could be a still life of an apple that becomes the focal point of an abstract depiction of a lover’s quarrel. Or a character you built as the hero in a short story turns up in the background in a sequence of novels.

If you’re too attached to the first idea, the creation cannot take shape and mature. Those ideas that sit and sit and never take shape? Let them go. Like Elsa did with her ode to the ice in Frozen. It makes the perfect soundtrack to dumping stuff.

Doorstop 3: Doodle Often (The Hodor Of Doorstops)

Do you remember that dramatic Game of Thrones scene with Hodor yelling “Hold the door” over and over while being eaten by zombies? You can be a Hodor by doodling. While the hand is idly making pretties on the paper the mind is off on a tangent in space. It floats aimlessly through the stars and snaps up fleeting thoughts. These can then be brought out into the consciousness and put down on paper.

Doodle on serviettes, till slips, or the desk. Use that boring appointment card that’s been lying around for two months. Keep a notepad in your bag or pocket, and by the toilet. Keep one in the lounge and replace some TV time with doodling. (Don’t cringe; it’s not that bad).

Scatter notebooks and pencils everywhere. So when there’s a few minutes to spare, grab one. There are no drawing lessons required, no one to criticise and nothing to be embarrassed about. Nobody ever has to see these unconscious spirals or concentric circles the brain leads your fingers in creating. Use a pen, or a half dry koki. Half-dry kokis make the best feathery lines. That marooned half chewed wax crayon? Use it. If it makes a mark and there’s a surface nearby, it’s doodle material.

Doodle Details To Remember

People who draw and paint, doodle freely. Others who work with numbers, screens and reams of information, take a bit of cajoling. Making friends with paper and pen for doodling rather than for making notes at meetings can be daunting.

A good starting point is to trace your hand on the page. Cover the drawn hand shape in parallel lines. Try adding concentric tracings and tiny spots. Doodles can start as single dots and outlined in different weighted lines and half circles can turn into enchanting mandalas. It’s yoga for the brain.

Mindlessly doodling puts the brain into neutral and releases it from the clench of stressing. Which is inevitable while trying to churn out those deadline-driven ideas. That’s when you can slip in and jam it open. Beat that door with the element of surprise. It’s always been the best tactic. Then you can catch those light bulb moments with ease.

So grab a pen or pencil, and may the doodle force be with you.

And in between the doodle, Google:

  1. The Neuroscience of Creativity by Scott Barry Kaufman
  2. Doodling Your Way to a More Mindful Life by Cathy Malchiodi


by Maeve Kousiakis. Maeve is an Escape Artist, with the ability to steal screen time (from the two sugar-demanding minions she created) to fulfil her job as a Designer by day and Newbie Writer by night. Her passion for designing fonts encouraged her to start writing with them.  She has successfully mastered the art of continuous creativity.