By Beth K. Vogt @bethvogt
My husband brought me roses the other day. A lovely bouquet of blush flowers, which he put in a vase on the kitchen island. But then he put one single rose in a vase and set it on the table beside my chair while I worked on rewrites. I looked up and said, “Because you remembered that women are more creative when there are flowers around, right?”
I don’t know if my husband recalled me mentioning a certain study when I read about it several years ago, but researchers at Texas A&M University showed that women developed more creative and flexible solutions to problems when there are flowers in the workplace. And men generated 15% more ideas than women did. (Men, flowers are beneficial for you, too!)
I’ve always enjoyed flowers, but I like them even more knowing they can inspire me as I write.
What are some other ways we can spark our creativity?
- Use Your Nose. Cinnamon and vanilla scents have been linked to creativity. One study found that people exposed to the aroma of rosemary had higher cognitive and concentration performance – something I need when I’m on deadline! People also recommend citrus aromas to calm anxiety – and to release creativity. Consider burning a candle or using essential oils with a diffuser on your desk.
- Work When You’re Tired. I know, you’re already doing that, right? Guess what? Being tired can help you be more creative. One study found night owls may do their best work in the early morning, while early birds are more innovative late at night.
- Do Something Monotonous. This sounds counterintuitive, I know. You’re trying to write something brilliant and I’m telling you to turn off your brain and do a mundane task, like folding laundry or washing the dishes. As author Agatha Christie said, “The best time to plan a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” While you’re doing a mindless task, your brain relaxes and gets refreshed — and ready to be creative again.
- Don’t Go It Alone. So often we get an “I’ve got to figure this book out by myself” mentality. But being with other creatives breeds creativity. (Duh, right?) The question is, who is in your creative community? Do you even have a creative community? We all need positive people who will reinforce our desire to grow as writers, upping our game, and inspiring our readers. And we also need to be encouraging other writers.
- Remove Obstacles to Creativity. Ask yourself this question: What (or who) blocks my creativity? Is there an activity that messes with your writing muse? Okay, I know you’re all thinking Facebook, right? But maybe it’s something else, like a negative relationship. Or maybe you’re listening to music while you write when you’re more productive when it’s quiet.
Here’s one last thing to think about as you live a creative life: Did you know that research shows it takes 25 minutes to get back on task after we’ve been interrupted? The next time you think about taking a few minutes from your manuscript to check social media, remember it will take you almost a half hour to dive back into your story.
Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an Air Force family physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. Now Beth believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” As a contemporary romance novelist, Beth is a 2016 Christy Award winner and 2016 Carol Award winner for her novel Crazy Little Thing Called Love. She was also a 2015 RITA® Finalist for her novel Somebody Like You, which was one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Books of 2014. In 2015, Beth introduced her destination wedding series with both an e-novella, Can’t Buy Me Love, and a novel, Crazy Little Thing Called Love. She continued the series in 2016 with the e-novella You Can’t Hurry Love (May) and the novel Almost Like Being in Love (June). Her novella A November Bride was part of the Year of Wedding Series by Zondervan. Beth enjoys writing contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily-ever-after than the fairy tales tell us. Find out more about her books at bethvogt.com. An established magazine writer and former editor of Connections, the leadership magazine for MOPS International, Beth is also part of the leadership team for My Book Therapy, the writing community founded by best-selling author Susan May Warren. She lives in Colorado with her husband Rob, who has adjusted to discussing the lives of imaginary people, and their youngest daughter, Christa, who loves to play volleyball and enjoys writing her own stories.