Child wearing a mad scientist costume and pointing in the air in a creativity concept.
Image: © Sunny studio/

Read, rob and relax: Tips on how to unlock and harness your creativity

15 May 2023

It can be too easy to just give up when facing a creative block, but there are ways to avoid and overcome it to do your best work.

The routine of life is not always conducive to spontaneity and creativity. It can be difficult to think of yourself as a creative person while also trying to keep up with your KPIs.

Maybe there is a middle ground though, one where you can be productive and innovative. Albert Einstein had a lot to say on the subject of creativity.

One of his nuggets of wisdom was: “Creativity is seeing what others see and thinking what no one else ever thought.”

Another, perhaps more well-known quote of his was “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”

Both imply that creative people lean into their own uniqueness, are not afraid to think outside of traditional norms and try not to feel constrained by life. They are independent thinkers who enjoy what they do, most of the time.

Easier said than done, I hear you say. Encountering a creative block can be frustrating enough to make you hate what you do. Plus, finding the time to be creative is so difficult.

To make matters worse, we’re quoting Einstein. Rest assured, we have good reason to.

Read, read, read for inspiration

It might sound a little trite but sometimes trying to be creative can be a lonely slog. Humans are social and we need a little bit of inspiration to get the juices flowing – often that comes in the form of inspirational quotes.

There’s nothing like reading a soundbite from the likes of Einstein to give yourself a bit of a shake. Forgetting boffins with bad hair for a moment, it’s just good practice to read in general.

Read as widely as possible about the things you’re interested in. You’ll start connecting ideas, learning new things and thinking more laterally.

Take it from the World Literacy Foundation – reading enhances your imagination and makes you more creative.

Borrow from artists for a creative mindset

It is a mistake for sci-tech people to neglect the arts. Interdisciplinarity is where it’s at. Combining art and science can make for a new way of looking at the world, and many artists are scientists and vice versa.

This piece from The Marginalian has lots of artists and writers talking about how they feel about being creative.

The Marginalian also has a piece exploring how Brian Eno felt about overcoming creative blocks to become the avant-garde music and visual artist he is known as today.

Ireland-based writer and scientist Chandrika Narayanan Mohan’s Future Human 2022 talk gave audiences an insight into her creative process and how her love of astronomy inspired her writing.

Artists are well known for deriving inspiration from anywhere they can get it, and sci-tech professionals should not feel one bit guilty about robbing from the arts.

Embrace failure and forget about the end result

In science, we tend to only hear about the breakthroughs; in technology, we tend to only hear about the hero products and the twenty-year-old founders; and indeed in all walks of life, success is the be all and end all.

Luckily, there are honest people willing to tell us mere mortals about the challenges they encountered along the way to where they are today. Many suffered for their chosen career, and many more faced setbacks and failures.

That’s why it’s important not to be too hard on yourself if something in a project you’re working on goes wrong. Creativity is a process that creatives have to endure. Anybody who has ever done anything remotely creative, different or new has had to put up with the frustration, the feelings of inadequacy and all the other problems that come along with creative projects.

There is no right or wrong way to be creative. There is no instruction manual or way of life that can make you ‘more creative’.

If you’re trying to be more creative, you have to be creative about it, funnily enough. Reading and taking inspiration from other people who have gone through ‘the creative process’ and come out the other side is a great habit to get into.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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