I cannot count the number of times that I have heard creativity is something you either have or something you don’t. Let me end the great debate by telling you now that creativity IS something you can learn. Below are a few key techniques that will jump start your creative life . You won’t regret it.
1. Give yourself the space
We often do not hesitate to give away our time and personal space. Always thinking about our significant others, our families, our children, the cousin that needs a bit of help the same weekend you were reserving for your own project. The first thing you could do to prepare yourself for creative activities is to reclaim your space.
TO DO: Be it ten minutes or a few hours, find a small moment in your day and a corner in your home where you can be alone with your own thoughts. This a great way to kick start the process. Try it. Planning for your future through small preparations is often the way to actualize it.
2. Speak to the Inner Critic
We are all used to criticizing ourselves before we even start on a new project. This voice can be called our inner critic, and is rooted in the left side of our brain. It specializes in analytic skills and quickly gets the distracted and bored when we start on a new creative task.
TO DO: The next time this voice starts to act up, try talking to it (out loud or with your inner voice), asking it for a few moments to explore your creative side. You’ll be surprised with the results.
Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.
3. Small but consistent actions
It is better to do something a little bit each day than 8 hours once a month. Think of your creativity as a person standing in the cold. It is better to keep it moving to avoid freezing. If you stand still then you will surely freeze solid.
TO DO: Instead of thinking of that giant novel you want to start, try to fit a few sentences in each day. In place of making that poster-sized drawing, try to make a few lines on paper each night. This keeps the engine well-oiled and active, and you will be surprised about the quantity of ideas you will start having. Me? I have a drawing pad/calendar that allows me to do a drawing a day. It helps immensely.
4. Creativity is about the experience, not the result
But what is the end goal?! Stop asking yourself that. You don’t need to sell your work, you don’t need to get famous. These are all thoughts that come from the inner critic, a part of yourself that needs a purpose for any action. Forget it.
TO DO: Focus on the experience. Enjoy getting lost in creative thought, almost like a waking dream. Don’t think about whether your finished painting is on par with Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”. Don’t think about if your portrait looks as realistic as a Ruben’s. The goal is to enjoy the creative experience, and to grow from it.
5. Purge the demons
All children are naturally creative. They can spend hours with finger paints testing out all of the possibilities of colors and ideas. Over the years, our openess gets properly squashed and thwarted by all of the discouraging people we meet and the bad experiences we have. Personally, I remember a teacher who embarrassed me in front of 40 people by reading a poem I was writing out loud because I was not paying attention in class. Perhaps my writing career ended there… With this method you can heal from your past creative scars. It’s a little weird, but it works.
TO DO: Think of one horrible teacher, one uninspiring adult you ran into as a child, and draw a funny comic portrait of them. I use this technique often on people I believe are stifling my creativity.
P.S. Looking for one more tip? Alright, here’s another. Don’t feel bad about copying. It’s one of the best ways to learn. Read my other post on why you should copy.
What do you do to keep the creative juices flowing and to stay inspired? I would love to hear about some more techniques to try out.