The Best of Forge 2019

4 Ideas to Boost Your Creativity

Creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and other insights from Forge

Indrani Sen
Forge
Published in
3 min readDec 24, 2019

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Illustration: Ruohan Wang. Originally appeared in A New Way to Recover From Creative Burnout.

We’re all capable of creativity, and we all want more of it. But we often feel robbed of the time and focus we need to actually make something.

Here at Forge, we don’t fetishize the habits of geniuses like Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs. Very few of us have what author Herbert Lui calls “vast, unbroken slabs of time.” And creativity is not “a series of eureka moments,” as Anna Codrea-Rado writes. Indeed, “creating is hard, frustrating, sometimes even depressing or boring.”

Still, there are methods to help us activate our creativity and nurture our ideas. Creative work is just that: work. And like all work, the best way to master it is to do it. Many of our favorite stories at Forge in 2019 were dispatches from writers toiling in the trenches of creativity — and sharing with us what they have gleaned from its joy and heartbreak.

Creativity Can’t Be Hacked by Anna Codrea-Rado

From smart pills to intermittent fasting, from hanging upside down to cold baths, the internet has no shortage of creativity hacks that promise a shortcut to inspiration. In an age where creativity is currency, we’re all looking to “crank the ideas tap,” but that’s just not how it works. “You can’t optimize your way out of the messy parts of creativity,” Anna Codrea-Rado writes. “In fact, you need them.” She encourages us to embrace creative frustrations — because it is only in the exquisite pain of trying to solve a difficult problem that true creativity resides.

What You Can Achieve in 15-Minute Bursts of Creativity by Herbert Lui

We romanticize the reclusive artist who shuts himself off from the world to create with no distraction. And great for him. (It’s almost always a “him.”) But there’s hope for those of us with jobs, kids, and other responsibilities, as well as creative aspirations: Don’t underestimate what you can achieve in just 15 minutes a day. Lui cites examples of creative people, from illustrator and writer Austin Kleon to recording artist J. Cole, who have made great works in…

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Indrani Sen
Forge
Writer for

Editorial director at Medium, mom, gardener, cook. Formerly at Quartz.