As a writer, I have to deal with writer's block and try my best to cut out pieces of my life that stifle creativity. In high school and college I discovered my love for words and creative moments -- those slivers of your memory where you are absolutely certain you are alive and creating something nourishing in some way -- even if it's just journal writing late at night. I began to understand how delightful it is to create something solely for the pleasure of creating. There is joy in the process of it all; especially when the pressure of deadlines and criticism are taken out of the equation.
In college, I cultivated a deeper sense of admiration for creating, specifically through writing, and I was able to experience those short, innovative moments on a larger scale. Even though I was maturing and nurturing my creative side, I still viewed that almost sacred flash of originality as some sort of electricity that came and went as it pleased -- as if inspiration strikes and there's not much we can do to leverage or extend the spark.
Since then, I practice taking the mystery out of it, because it only seems to stunt my work and increase writer's block. This doesn't mean I no longer believe in the magic of it all, it just means I've learned to tap into the idea that there are creative flashes in the every day, ordinary moments. The more habitual we are in reaching for that inspiration, the more it seems to draw near. I've noticed that the more intentional I am about developing a routine or some measure of productivity, the more I am able to pump out lingering creative energy rather than spurts of inspiration.
Artistic Engagement + Dull Routines
I've found that when I implement something that engages me intellectually and artistically into my everyday dull routines, the creative juices start to flow easier. For example, if you walk your dog every morning, listen to music you connect with and try to really hear. If you have to unstack the dishwasher, listen to a great storytelling podcast, like The Moth or This American Life.
I am by myself a lot since I work from home, so listening to someone's personal story helps me feel more connected and inspired throughout the day.
I wrote more about this idea in my 750 words posts. The idea (from Julia Cameron's The Artist) is that you write stream of consciousness, 3 pages longhand first thing in the morning. Not only are you making time to write that you didn't think you had, but you are preparing for your day creatively. You're also learning to fight against self-editing while you write. If you're a writer, this is an invaluable skill to develop.
This practice has been proven by several different kinds of people to bring creative energy and enhance inspiration throughout the day -- even if you're not a writer!
Learn a New Skill - Even if You're Not Good!
A is really good at this one. He seriously values continual learning the way we all should. The boy is learning another language and teaching himself html coding... just because. What? Who does that? Anyway, I've found that learning a new skill, particularly using your hands, is helpful in developing a more creative life. As I learn sewing (so, so slowly), I am surprised at how even when I am frustrated and messing up projects, the simple step of diving into the learning process can bring inspiration. Engaging yourself with creative thinking and teaching sets the rest of your day up for motivation.
Unplug. Get Some Air!
I think perhaps one of the best ways to evoke creative energy is to shut down the cell phone, laptop, and anything with a screen. Our minds are constantly taking in images and words from the internet that are likely to inspire, but also able to discourage. Searching Pinterest and blogs we enjoy may draw inspiration, but more often than not, it's easier to learn about the results of another person's creative endeavors and not embark on our own.
Always checking our email or staring at a computer screen, hunched over all day long is draining. If you set aside some time -- even 30 minutes a day -- to walk around the block or take a nap at the park does wonders for the artist inside. I can't tell you how refreshed I felt after a get away camping weekend. Sometimes new surroundings simply do the trick. Beautiful inspirations found in nature always trump what you find on the screen. Am I right? ;)
What have you found increases your day to day creativity? I'd love to hear what works for you in the comments! xo