15 Tips to Fuel Your Creativity

Image from thoibau.today

“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.”
~  Pablo Picasso

 

2018 is a fabulous year for all forms of creativity.

Creativity. NOT productivity.

Go back and read that sentence again if you have to!

Productivity is the act of producing something. The dictionary defines productivity as ‘the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input’. Think widgets, or burning through your to-do list. It is often not a joyful task, or one that requires your best work or your best self to turn up. Yes, you can still be productive this year, but that’s not what the energies of 2018 are all about.

Image from hdwall.us

2018 is a fabulous year for all forms of creativity. Creativity is defined as the use of imagination or original ideas to create something. Creativity is a wild beast. It’s a tender young seedling that will grow into a blooming bush or an incredible tree. Creativity is the act of making something that is fuelled by your own life force and shaped by your imagination and heartsong.

After so many years of sitting in ‘productive’ energy, getting back to that wild space of creativity can feel uncomfortable and odd. It can make us anxious if we don’t get an instant result, a perfect first creation or a super-productive outcome. And worse, trying to be ‘productive’ with our creativity makes that flow of imagination and inventiveness slow to a trickle or stop altogether. Remember: once you have your creative outcome you can work from a place of productivity, but not before.

Image from canyonechoes.org

Here are my top ten suggestions for reconnecting to and feeding your creative energy this year:

  1. Listen to music. Range widely and try new styles and genres.
  2. Read books. Libraries and bookshops have a world of inspiration just waiting for you to explore.
  3. Watch movies. Change it up and look at things that are not your usual choices.
  4. Go for long walks in nature. Camping can also be good. Use this as unplugged time and leave your phone and laptop at home or turned off.
  5. Sit in a cafe with a hot or cold beverage. People watch, or write in your journal. Sit in a space of awareness. Use your whole self as an antenna.
  6. Move your body. Dancing is good. Or a yoga class. Surfing or playing with your dog or your kids (or borrow the dog or kids of a friend!). Movement gets you into flow!
  7. Watch a live performance. Or give one.
  8. Visit the local art gallery or museum.
  9. Take a road trip. Go around the corner or around the world. Travel has direct links to the imagination switch in your brain.
  10. Sign up to some kind of creative hands-on course. Try ceramics or drum making, decorative cookies or welding. It doesn’t need to be in the field where you want to shine. Anything that gets you making something with your hands will do. Can’t access a course? Bake something or go dig in the garden and grow things.
  11. Got a project idea? Just start. Work it out as you go. Don’t need it to be perfect or all planned out in advance.
  12. Dedicate some regular time and space for your creative projects. No, this won’t kill creativity. Turning up and creating a routine supports sustainable creative flow.
  13. Let yourself be a beginner.
  14. Try collaborating with others and sharing knowledge and skills.
  15. Enjoy regular down-time. Working and needing to be productive every waking moment leaves no space for new ideas to form or bubble to the surface. Rest and play are your friends this year!

I can’t wait to see what magic you create in 2018, or how living more creatively and playfully helps you heal and re-energise in all kinds of places in your life. Drop me a line and keep me posted!

Much love, Nicole  xx

Image from aelitaandre.com

When the Muse vanishes – thoughts on the loss of creativity

Image from www.layoutsparks.com

Image from www.layoutsparks.com

“Creativity is our true nature; blocks are an unnatural thwarting of a process at once as normal and as miraculous as the blossoming of a flower at the end of a slender green stem.”
~ Julia Cameron 

If you’ve ever had some sort of creative block, where the juices stop flowing and the ideas dry up, then you’ll probably just find the quote above to be irritating, maddening and mocking.

Yes, we are all supposed to be creative.  Yes, creativity is meant to be our natural state.  But what happens when it’s not?  What’s wrong with us?  Why can’t we be creative like everybody else, or like we used to be?

juicingI actually believe that creativity is a little like a bicycle-powered juicer. You have to start pedalling BEFORE there can be enough power for the juice to be extracted. It’s the same with creativity – once you have some momentum up you’ll find yourself in flow, even if you weren’t there to start with.

But…

Sometimes we can’t even get on the darn bike.

Before you start gnashing your teeth, and muttering self-loathing thoughts, or committing to epic self-evaluation or a psychiatrist’s couch, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Has sleep been an issue lately?
  • Is there something on your mind?
  • Are you unwell?
  • Suffering from anxiety and/or depression?
  • Is there a situation that threatens your financial security?
  • Is there a situation that threatens your emotional well-being?
  • Are you stressed to the max, with too much on your plate?
  • Are you raising very small and demanding children (or bigger children who are going through ‘stuff’)?
  • Is there a safe and amenable place for you to practice your particular brand of creativity?
  • Have you already created something big recently?
  • Are you being creative and productive in another area as part of your work life?
  • Are you suffering from burn-out in ANY area of your life?

Sometimes we are simply just too tired, too sick, too worried, too stressed, too overwhelmed or too broken to be in a productive and creative space.

And that’s okay.

The biggest gift you can give yourself creatively when you’re in this place is time to rest and heal, and time to attend to the things that are sucking up all of your energy and head space.  Get that thesis finished.  Get that tax out of the way, or the divorce, or the bathroom finally renovated enough that you can shower and brush your teeth instead of standing outside with the garden hose.

There is a difference between ‘not feeling in the mood to create’ and being wrung out, battered, bruised and exhausted by life. Sometimes we need to rest and fill up the well before we can begin again.

Activity:

Think about what you want to create or the vision you have, or did have for a creative project.  (If you can’t even THINK of a project, then go with the desire to create rather than naming an actual project.)

Now tune in to your emotions. One a scale of one to ten how is your energy towards this project right now?

pain-scale

At 0 we are excited, motivated, happy and raring to go. We are emotionally engaged and enthusiastic about our project, and we are already sitting down and getting on with it. In fact, in the moments where we are not working on our project we find ourselves thinking about it, planning for it and wanting to get back to it.

At 10 we can’t even think of a project – it’s just a big black sucking hole, or a misty grey fog, or some other equally miserable and barren wasteland. We are flat out breathing and coping with life and that takes ALL of our energy.

What to do about it!

Strangely, one of the best medicines for a lack of creativity is creative exposure. Take some time this week to sit down with your journal and write a list of creative pursuits and activities that you have a flicker of interest for, but that are NOT your life passion.

For example, if you want to write the Next Great Novel, steer clear of anything to do with writing.  If you want to be the next prima ballerina, avoid anything to do with ballet. If you want to be a chef, stay away from food.  Are you getting the picture here?

Instead think of other cultural, artistic and creative pursuits.  Could you take up beading, chainsaw ice sculpting, macrame pot holders, hair braiding, decoupage, dancing the tango, painting some old chairs, making your own sourdough (no chefs – you guys go learn to make and fly your own kites!) etc. Do something that sounds interesting but where you don’t care whether you set the world on fire with your macrame skills or ability to compost garden scraps.

Image from www.acupfullofsunshine.blogspot.com

Image from www.acupfullofsunshine.blogspot.com.au

Make a list of music you’d like to listen to, bands you’d like to see, DVDs you’d like to watch, books to read, movies and theatre to see, galleries and cafes and markets and other places it would be interesting to visit. Think about painting those chairs on the back deck, or making a meal with a Moroccan Tagine.  Just because it’s fun.  Just because you can.

Over the next little while, dip into your list.  Don’t expect the Muse to turn up.  You don’t need her right now.  You just need some restorative time, some time with no pressure, no deadlines and no expectations.

That’s truly the meaning of Art as Therapy.  We do something a little creative and it restores a lost or damaged part of us to ourselves, so that we become fuller, more rounded, more whole.

Image by www.smashingchintz.co.uk

Image by www.smashingchintz.co.uk

This post is part of my 2013 Creative Challenge Project.  If you’d like to read more, visit these posts:

Join my 2013 Creative Project Challenge

Creative Project Challenge – February Check In

Lost your Creative Mojo?