Mandy Nicholson

The Creative Genius Corner

Lessons, musings and advice from the author of ‘The Life I Won’

How to build a creative mind

As an artist and author, most assume I’m talking about writing or painting when I say ‘Creativity.’ What I’m actually talking about is a process, not creating specific things!


Real creativity begins with noticing things. Looking at things really, really closely. Creativity comes from being inquisitive about the thing! It could be a blade of grass, a face, an object, a word or a sound.


When a creative mind notices something that captures their interest, they put everything they have into understanding it.


I do it with everything from grass to speech because everything can be viewed creatively.


I love listening to other people talk, and I love watching people listen to me talk. Creatives like you and I can pick up on the meaning behind words and what people feel (a lot of the time). I consider this to be at the heart of my creative thinking and doing. Understanding people allows me to create designs and scenarios in art, writing and business with equal impact.


Whatever the “thing”, we love to think deeply about its message and visualise solutions that can help people. This is true of every creative person I know!


Problem solving in your medium of choice: technology, public speaking, painting, writing, debating or even retreating to think are all creative pursuits. Every entrepreneur on this planet is creative, because they’re solving a problem by making something that didn’t exist before!


We are all creative in our own way, we may just be a little disconnected at times. Here are a few ways you can start to connect with your creative heart…



Don’t take a photo of the sunrise, really look at it. Study blades of grass, the single white flower in a patch of weeds, the pebble on the beach that changes colour in the light, the nobbles and knots on the aged oak tree. Look at the empty space between everything you see and you’ll find that you’re surrounded by shapes that you’ve never even noticed before!


Listen to somebody talk

Take mental notes of the key points they are making and mirror these back to them. Watch how it evolves the conversation. For example, ‘I like what you said about XYZ and I would love to hear more about it.’


People love to be listened to and acknowledged for their contribution, so use this to learn more and it will open up your creative mind!


Start a journal

Journaling can be hugely beneficial in expanding your creativity. The act of holding a pen and writing down your inner world is exploratory and inquisitive by nature. Don’t type it, write it! The act of drawing tiny symbols with your hand will reveal more to you than repeatedly mashing down plastic squares.



Try some new food that you have never tasted before and savor every mouthful, do not just shove it down your throat like most of your meals! Notice the flavours and sensations as you chew slowly, with intent. Take in the smell as it’s cooking and feel the anticipation. Notice your physical reactions. Does the smell and taste create memories?


Some Buddhists are known to spend 5 minutes eating a single grape.


Listen to music outside of your usual taste

If you love rock, listen to some rap. If you love rap, listen to some heavy metal. Notice the beat, the highs and lows, the intro and outro and think about how you feel. Does it annoy you, relax you, inspire you or make you want to dance? Does it trigger memories that make you feel happy, sad or even angry? Try not to judge the music based on your current music tastes, just listen and observe what happens to you inside.


Touch things

Touch something that you have never touched before. Run your fingers through it. Feel its texture, it’s weight, it’s consistency. Use play-dough or sand, lentils or pasta. Close your eyes and notice how it feels on your fingers. Does this trigger a reaction in you?


Most of the above are probably things that you do daily on auto pilot, so just make some effort to do some of them mindfully. The act of taking notice and investing a small amount of your time into the activity can trigger a chain reaction in your thinking that you didn’t even know was there.


Sensory moments create memory and emotion in us and are saved to our subconscious in a different way. Does a certain piece of music trigger a memory of someone you loved, a smell or food type remind you of a holiday? When you can create more brain biscuits like this, you are feeding your mind with the data it needs to be more creative.


Spend just a single minute every day on one of these sensory activities and you’ll notice changes inside yourself. You won’t enjoy them all, but one of them will resonate with you. Stick with it and tap into your innate talent.


Come and tell us your results by leaving a comment below!

Love & Colour

Mandy x

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