Perhaps you don’t consider yourself creative. But, we are all creative: our creativity simple emerges in different ways. Consider the imagination one employs to make intelligent financial decisions, or how one can come up with yummy and inexpensive recipes with healthy ingredients. We call upon our creative selves many times in the course of a day, but some of us don’t count these acts as imaginative. We have been conditioned to believe that only those that paint, write, play music, etc. are officially the “creatives.” Our beliefs that we are not creative sometimes begin early on if we were not encouraged in that way by our families. Perhaps we may have been told in school that we should stick to more practical subjects. It’s easy to fall prey to accepting the image of how someone else sees us. When we know ourselves well and are confident in our abilities, the reflections of others do not affect us.
The following are some ways to support your creative urges. If you don’t think you are creative, or if you are feeling creatively blocked, these five simple suggestions will help you push through.
When we are not mindful we may miss opportunities for finding inspiration. What do I mean by “mindful?” When we are mindful we are completely present in the moment; when we are present we are not focused on the past or the future. Our attention is on our in-the-moment circumstance, and we have an awareness of our surroundings by way of all our senses.
Track yourself to observe how present you are just for one hour as you are going about your day. Stop to check in often to see if your mind is on the past or if you are thinking ahead. Inevitably, you will be doing this to some degree. When you catch yourself, gently bring your focus back to present time. As you get in the habit of monitoring yourself this way, it becomes more automatic and easier to stay in the moment.
Now that you are present and available for inspiration you may discover that the beauty of the road you drive down each day inspires a painting. Or that the sound of the birds singing lifts your heart and puts you more in the mood to clean or re-arrange your home. With a clear head you may find that conversations with friends may act as fodder for a piece of writing. The rewards of a clear and peaceful mind are many.
- Enlarge Your Vision
Take a moment to contemplate how you may be keeping your vision small. “Your vision” of what?, you may be asking. This could include a specific project on which you are working or even how you view your life. I speak to many folks who don’t even bother to try and think big because they have felt trapped for so long. Often when we have been stuck in a rut we forget that there may be solutions or options of which we have not even thought. Conversing with a trusted friend is a good way to shake things up as long as we are not complaining, simply conversing.
I remember feeling stuck with a particular painting. A friend was visiting, and she remarked that it would look so good with……….and made her suggestion. I followed up with her vision and was pleased at the way it turned out. I was surprised that I had not thought of it. My ego stepped out of the way in order to be open to her suggestion—another aid in the creative process. Opening up to the ideas of others has also helped me when it comes to other areas of my life.
It may not be necessary for you to share with others. I find it helpful to view a problem or project from angles that may not have been obvious in the beginning. Your creativity will be heightened just in the act of thinking outside the box.
More creative energy is available to you when your life is running more smoothly. When we apply the practice of looking at situations with a broader perspective, our lives benefit by our being able to implement new ideas and solutions to situations that may have previously been problematic.
- Show Up
Numerous successful people have made the statement that more than half—or even most—of the work is showing up. How do you avoid your own successes? Are there instances where you have sabotaged yourself in regard to your creative desires? Does one of your frequent statements include the phrase “someday?” “Someday, I’d like to learn to play guitar.” Or, “Someday I’m going to write a book.” I hear this so often.
Fear is probably the biggest factor in the way of creative fulfillment. Have you identified any fears related to procrastination of your desired activities? Journaling without too much thought, just free writing, is helpful in exploring one’s inner feelings. Just open yourself up on the paper and let your thoughts flow without censorship to see what may emerge. I have surprised myself more than once with what came pouring out.
If this is true for you, try addressing something on your “someday” list by taking very small baby steps toward that goal. It may be too scary to select the thing that you want the most, so choose what seems to be the most attainable.
- Take Notes/Keep Records
It doesn’t matter what you want to do creatively or if you have even identified what you want to do creatively. Keeping a record of what inspires you or things you notice throughout your day that interest you are fuel for later projects. If you find yourself waiting in the dentist’s office, make use of that time to thumb through magazines; if you find something of interest for later, take a photo or make notes. File these gems away for when you are ready to work with them, whether they be a recipe or a room you would like to take some decorating ideas from. If you are driving home and the clouds are particularly spectacular, take a photo in case you may want to use the clouds in a painting.
I have an accordion file of photos that has been a valuable resource for me for years. I call upon for this file for use in my paintings. The folder is divided up by subject matter that I tend to use in my art work. On a day that I have the urge to paint and don’t have anything in mind, I may peruse the file and find images that inspire me. Or I may find myself in the midst of a painting and feel that there is something I want to add to it, or I may wonder what kind of tree may look the best in the piece. I also collect beads, bones, shells, feathers, fabric, and anything else I find I may want to include in my collages.
This practice is not just for visual artists. I have a musician friend who records anywhere and everywhere she goes, and has been doing so for years. She doesn’t confine this to music, eitther: she recorded the street sounds of the colorful neighborhood on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, including the whistle warnings of the local drug dealers. She also managed to record a “heartbeat” from the ancient stone formations in Malta. These sounds were woven into musical compositions she used in theater pieces many years after. If you like to cook, don’t hesitate to ask for the recipe or at least ingredients of a dish you enjoy while eating out; don’t forget to write it down!
Keeping a journal is another handy tool for recording thoughts or ideas for later use. If you are a writer, chances are that you already make a habit of this. People you meet on an everyday basis may become characters in that next piece of writing.
- Lose Any Competitive Edge
Face it. There will most always be someone smarter, faster, better looking, etc., than ourselves. If we waste energy on comparing ourselves to others we may never take the first step toward our desired goals.
I teach art classes, and I have had many folks come to me with stories of how their mothers, husbands, or others were artists and they didn’t want to disappoint themselves with how they might not match their own ideals. These ideals were set either by these others in their lives or by their own impossibly high standards.
I teach art-making workshops that are open to anyone. When a new student learns that they may be asked to share what they have done with the others, their fears set in and they often try to talk their way out of it. Ultimately, they learn from the others in the group.
We have to begin somewhere, sometime. If we allow the abilities of others to stand in our way we are doing ourselves a huge disservice. When my students do put their work on the wall for others to see, they are always surprised by the positive qualities that the other students find in their art. We all have our unique talents. If you have the drive to do something and let others stand in your way, you may never discover a vision, or voice, or other skills that may be resting within.
Allow yourself to expand creatively by taking a risk. Begin today and enjoy the benefits a life with more creativity brings.