How to Be More Creative

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Photo Source: Photo by Elijah Hiett on Unsplash

Creativity for actors is the ability to let your heart, mind, and intuition guide you as your body and voice bring words to life. You need to be ready to produce your best work whenever opportunity knocks, and keeping your creative juices flowing keeps you sharp and will help you reach your career goals faster. Here’s a breakdown on creative acting and how you can foster creativity in your craft.


What is creativity?

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Creativity refers to the process of imagining and producing something new and artistic. The different types of creativity, according to neuroscientist Arne Dietrich, are:

  • Deliberate and cognitive: conducting research and using analytic methods to express creativity
  • Deliberate and emotional: finding moments of creative inspiration through solitude and time spent thinking
  • Spontaneous and cognitive: creativity that happens in the moment when someone shifts their attention from their primary activity
  • Spontaneous and emotional: creativity founded in random epiphanies or bursts of inspiration

For actors, creativity allows for more compelling performances, better depictions of characters and their worlds, and the ability to take on multiple different character types.

How to improve creativity

Creativity actorsESB Professional/Shutterstock

1. Make a creative workspace

Select a space in your home as your creative place where all of your projects, dreams, inspirations, and goals come together. We’re creatures of habit; a dedicated space where we’re used to being creative prompts us to be creative whenever we enter it.

2. Start writing

Understanding the writer’s intent and how they convey it is central to the actor’s craft. The more you learn about storytelling, the more creative (and effective) your storytelling becomes. Writing also puts you in touch with your own stories and helps you clarify thoughts and feelings about what’s most important to you. Start writing and your acting will improve.

3. Make sure to sleep

Sometimes you get a gig on short notice, so you stay up and cram because you know your creativity won’t help if you don’t know your lines. But in most cases, getting less sleep is the opposite of what your brain needs. Brain waves during REM sleep look a lot like brain waves during high-level concentration and thinking when we’re awake. That great idea you get in the middle of the night will probably come during REM sleep. If you don’t really need to pull an all-nighter, more sleep will help you be more creative.

4. Become a student of your craft and industry

The more you know, the more you have to draw on in your work. Read about acting and actors you admire. Watch great performances. Read great plays, screenplays, and books about TV and filmmaking, and subscribe to trade publications. Research gives you different perspectives on your craft, allowing you to explore it in new ways. To be a working actor in the entertainment industry requires individuality, ability, and professionalism. Understanding your industry will clarify what your job is within it and open your mind to ways you can be a more capable contributor.

5. Remember to exercise

Studies have shown that as little as 15 minutes of aerobic exercise improves mental performance. Adding a morning workout to your day or taking a short walk before your acting work begins will help you think more clearly. 

6. Make something by hand

Working with your hands lets you express yourself in a new way. Painting, drawing, sculpting, making furniture, or crocheting can free your mind from familiar patterns and spark your creativity.

7. Take time to daydream

When you’re hard at work and not getting anywhere, daydreaming can distract your attention from the task, giving you a welcome break and allowing new ideas to appear.

8. Try to meditate

Meditation reduces stress and improves focus, attention, and your ability to ignore distractions—it’s like strength training for the brain. Daily meditation helps you problem solve, sharpen your mind, and think more creatively, enabling you to perform at a higher level more consistently and with less effort.

9. Get inspired

Doing the same things again and again can put you in a creative rut. To break out, try doing something outside your #ActorsWorld. Read about architecture, philosophy, science, or anything new that interests you. Visit a museum, zoo, or botanical garden. Attend music or dance concerts you might not normally see. The more interests you have, the more interesting you become.

10. Rethink rejection

If not being cast feels like a rejection, you’re going to be a very unhappy actor. But think about it like this: If you choose steak instead of fish from a lunch menu, it’s not personal. You like fish; you just felt like eating steak today. The fish would be foolish to feel rejected. When you audition and aren’t cast, it’s also not personal. Instead of feeling rejected, use it as an opportunity to think creatively about your preparation and performance and explore new ways you can communicate more effectively through your work.

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Philip Hernández
Philip Hernández is an audition coach and working actor in New York City. He uses his 30 years experience on stage and on camera to teach the real world skills you need to book the jobs you want. His students appear on Broadway, in regional theaters, national tours, on television, and in film.
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