“To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.” ~ Osho
Sometimes life loses its shine, and gets a bit ragged around the edges. When we’re in that space of busy-ness, exhaustion, or when we’re fighting the good fight, our Muse may desert us. When our creativity is gone, we often begin to despair that it will ever return.
But don’t be disheartened. There is so much that we can do to encourage her back into our lives.
Here are some simple steps you can take to get your creative mojo back:
1. Take a night off and do something that really unwinds the tangles in your mind. That might be a bath, reruns of ‘Friends’ or ‘Star Trek’, a glass of wine and a pizza, going to bed early with a good book or a lover, or simply turning in for some much-needed sleep.
2. Eat well. Brains need good food, and good hydration. Fresh wholesome food and plenty of water can work wonders for restoring inspiration.
3. Go for a walk. Walking does something magical to our brains. Walking clears out the cobwebs, grounds us and gets us firmly back into our bodies when we have been spending too much time in our heads. While we are out wandering our minds begin to find their own creative energy again.
4. Start an Ideas Book. Most of your good ideas give you a momentary boost, and then are soon forgotten. An ideas book will put all of those flashes of inspiration in one place. If you use one often enough you’ll soon start to see themes emerge. Before long, the Muse will be whispering in your ear, and you’ll be back in flow.
5. Listen to Music. Music is proven to lift our mood, increase the feel-good neurochemical dopamine, stimulate thought and build new neural pathways. Music also relaxes us, allowing thoughts and ideas to rise more easily to our conscious awareness.
6. Read a Book. Reading stimulates our imagination, and triggers images, thoughts and ideas that can lead you back out of the creative wilderness.
7. Learn something new. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the banjo, Italian, composting or poetry. When we learn new things, it creates a cascade of new pathways and new possibilities as we fit the fresh information in with our existing neural frameworks. Inspiration often strikes as we practice these skills and develop different approaches to existing situations.
8. Do puzzles and other games that stimulate your brain. The brain needs to be exercised. As you work with these puzzles your brain becomes faster, more attentive and your memory is enhanced. An exercised brain adapts faster to information input, and forms new pathways that can overflow benefits into many other areas of your life. (I have been using Luminosity for about 6 months now, with great results!)
9. Spend time laughing and socially connecting with people. Humans are social animals and we need hugs, interaction and social affirming. It sets up a flow of good chemicals in our bodies, relaxes us, and fills us with well-being.
10. Dance. Yep, that’s right. I’m a big fan of gumboot dancing in rain-soaked paddocks, but you could also dance in your pyjamas in the loungeroom, rock out with your friends at your favourite live venue, boogie with your kids or your pets, or go tango-ing with someone special. Dancing makes everything good again!
11. Practice your creative passion. Show up on a regular basis and do some small thing. It doesn’t matter how small – just engage with your creative project. A friend of mine who is an amazing textile artist hit a very rough spot in her personal life. For months she couldn’t create, but every day she went to her studio. She cleaned out cupboards, put beads into jars, tore images from magazines, cut buttons and swatches from old clothes, framed canvases that had sat in dusty corners for months. And eventually she found that she was tinkering again, and that led back into making art.
12. Meditate, or practice a moving meditation such as yoga, tai chi or qi gung. Meditation clears out the clutter in your mind, and leaves it full of stillness. In that energy of stillness the Muse will begin to sing to you, or show you a slide show, or thread your thoughts together like beautiful jewels on a necklace.
13. Practice Gratitude. When we are grateful for life, and show appreciation, the dark clouds begin to lift, the fog clears and we find ourselves able to value and appreciate ourselves and the world around us, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in. Creativity is a natural byproduct of that state of emotional grace.
14. Go somewhere new. Nothing quite connects the dots in new ways, or hands you whole new patterns and concepts like the stimulus of a fresh set of images, sounds, smells and experiences. When we live only in familiar surroundings, all sensory input tends to fade into the background and we become lost in our heads. New places require a high level of engagement.
15. Choose to be optimistic – no matter what your current circumstances may be. Alice Herz-Sommer explains this far, far better than me…
PS: This post is part of my 2013 Creative Challenge Project. If you’d like to read more, visit these posts: