Boost Your Creativity

Snakes really aren’t my thing. So when I had the “opportunity” to hold this monster, my gut reaction was “blech!”

My husband on the other hand was thrilled to let this python twist around his arms. He has owned a number of pets that I would kill (or demand that someone else kill) rather than cage… spiders, snakes, scorpions and the like. I don’t consider those creatures pets; to me they’re creepy, crawly threats.

But it isn’t very often that I have the chance to hold a snake of this size. Thankfully.

On this particular day, we were coming home from San Antonio, Texas. In New Braunfels, we passed the roadside snake farm. Having lived in the area for almost two years, we’d driven past the giant sign decorated with alligators and snakes a number of times. None of us were quite ready to end our weekend excursion, so we decided to check out this weather-beaten attraction.

I kept my distance from the snake-filled aquariums, especially those that were plastered with stickers bearing a skull and crossbones exclaiming that the creatures within were “extremely poisonous.”

Just as we were getting ready to leave, an employee brought out the giant python for show and tell. And, oh yeah, you could hold it if you wanted to… again, blech.

So why did I hold it, even when I was totally creeped out? Because I believe it pays to purposefully step out of one’s comfort zone.

It is so easy to get stuck in a rut of routine. And when it comes to writing, routines can stifle creativity.

Now, I know some routines can be healthy and helpful. Brushing your teeth first thing in the morning is good for you (and for everyone who gets to avoid your morning breath). Scheduling times to check email and voice mail rather than being at technology’s beck and call can help you achieve more by minimizing distractions.

But too much of the same day after day can inhibit our creativity. Rather than embracing innovation or seeking new solutions, we begin to do things the way we’ve always done them simply because that’s the way they’ve always been done. And stifled, stiff thinking isn’t good for us as individuals, nor is it productive or profitable for our families, businesses, churches or communities.

When you’re writing, a break from routine can provide inspiration. Our brains crave variety. When we shake up our routines and step outside our comfort zones, our brains reward us with new perspectives, new ideas and creative thoughts.

We must be willing to do something different. It can start with something as simple as taking a new route to work or eating lunch outside rather than in your company’s break room. Try a new food. Better yet, schedule lunch once a week with a friend or mentor who challenges your thinking. Meet with a writer’s group monthly. Or, my favorite, go on a writing retreat.

Step out of your comfort zone. Shake things up. Hold an 18-pound snake. The different experiences and varied visual and verbal views will open your mind to new ideas, give you a new perspective and boost your creativity.