8th May 2021
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Breaking Patterns And Boosting Our Creativity

Breaking Patterns And Boosting Our Creativity
By Crystal Nicholls

Creativity doesn’t happen on demand. When I was doing eight shows a week in Disney’s The Lion King, I was unwittingly putting myself in a creative rut. Not only was I doing the same show every night (sometimes twice a day), but I was doing the same warm up, eating the same meals, taking the same route to work, and cross-training in the same ways.

I hardly ever broke from my routine, but the few times that I did, whether it was to take a new class, or go to a food market, I always felt a surge of excitement and creative energy, that would inspire and motivate me for the rest of the week.

But how and why does breaking your routine have this seemingly magical effect?

As artists, we are taught that we have to work hard at our art. If you are writing a piece, and you feel blocked, you should just write until something good comes out, right? Not necessarily.

As much as we may want to, we can’t force inspiration and creativity. And this is where pattern interrupts come in. A pattern interrupt is a technique used to change a particular thought, behaviour or situation.

As human beings, we are conditioned to repeat similar patterns in similar ways. This is a useful evolutionary tool that allows our unconscious mind to run programs and patterns automatically, so our conscious mind is free to focus on more complex tasks. Imagine having to relearn how to drive every time you got in your car–that would be exhausting! So our unconscious patterns and programs are useful in certain aspects.

But they also cause us to get stuck in creative ruts. When we do the same, we get the same. We become closed vessels, boxed in by our daily routines and thoughts. Humans have an average of up to 50,000 thoughts per day, and up to 95 percent are the same thoughts. So if we are thinking the same thoughts, and doing the same things, how are we ever to create anything new?

Pattern interruption

Pattern interruption shakes up a person’s thoughts and behaviours, allowing for new inspiration to enter. When an action or behaviour interrupts our unconscious mind, our brain doesn’t have an instruction for what to do next. Naturally, the present moment determines our next action.

From Decision-Making to “What Now?”

The key to unlocking our creative power is to interrupt our brain from running the familiar programs, switching gears from “decision-making” to “what now?” Ideally, we would incorporate a pattern interrupt at least once week, to allow for new inspiration and ideas to enter our lives and boost our creativity.

Here are some simple ways to practice pattern interruption:

  • Brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand
  • Taking a class or course in something completely new to you
  • Taking a different route to work
  • Eating a type of cuisine you have never tried before
  • Starting a conversation with a stranger
  • Traveling to a new place
  • Having a dance break
  • Learning a new skill

Pattern interrupts help us grow and expand our awareness and capabilities. They jolt us from our routines, giving us a fresh perspective on life. They also make us more daring, with each new experience representing a sort of risk, which allows us to take bigger and bigger risks throughout our lives.

And finally, they allow us to be inspired in novel ways, seeing fresh possibilities, meeting new people, and thinking new thoughts. So the next time you feel your creativity is blocked, stop beating your head against the wall, take a break, and try something new.

More By Crystal Nicholls:
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