When people tell me they’re “not creative,” I know they are lying. The truth is, we are profoundly creative — it’s our natural state. We don’t need to “work” at being creative. And I think most of us know that when we’re in a truly creative space, it feels like play, not work.
What we do need to work at is sustaining solid habits that support our creativity (which often isn’t easy). We need to commit to making regular time and space for our creativity to take center stage.
Believing we need to work at being creative is a good way to get stuck. We can’t “lose” our creativity. We can only lose touch with its flow.
But sure, we don’t always feel creative. And that’s okay. While I don’t believe we should force the flow, I do believe there are things we can do to welcome its return, to summon it back to us.
1) Get rid of things that feel unsupportive to you.
These can be small things — I’m not necessarily talking about ending a relationship or quitting a job here (though you may make those choices at some point!). I’m talking about things that consistently drag you down, in small, nagging ways.
For me, recently, that meant unsubscribing to a couple of popular blogs, one for writers and one for entrepreneurs. I’d been telling myself that the authors “knew what they were talking about,” and I needed their information — but I felt slightly depressed every time I read one of their posts. I finally realized that their messages of “This is what you must do to be successful” didn’t apply to me, because I don’t define success the way they do.
We’re all hit with so much information in a given day, it’s vital to get rid of any that doesn’t feel supportive to us.
2) Make your workspace appealing to you.
Whether you write, paint, or bake amazing things, having an uncluttered workspace that you love can make a huge difference.
I am hardly a minimalist when it comes to decorating — I actually feel good having a certain amount of “friendly clutter” in my home; it’s part of how I relate to my environment. But yesterday I took some time to clear piles off the table I work on, to dust its surface, to put away some coats and scarves that were thrown over a chair. And it’s like I’ve been given a fresh slate when I sit down to write. My mind feels clearer — I can even see the characters I’m writing about more clearly.
Decluttering also shifts energy and signals that we are willing to let go. This willingness is crucial to creating, which is a process of birth and death, building up and eventually letting go of — or even destroying — what we’ve built.
3) Briefly revisit what you love.
You can do this immediately. I have a framed Jaws poster in my office, and I only have to glance over at it to be reminded of why it’s one of my favorite movies of all time (characters! editing! Quint’s Indianapolis speech!).
Or, a couple of nights ago I made a Pinterest board dedicated to Beatrix Potter. That woman was an amazing artist and writer, and when I look at one of her pictures — and her accompanying words — I am instantly reconnected with some of my deepest loves: animals, stories, and dark humor. (Yes, Beatrix Potter’s books are full of dark humor. Only in “The Tale of Samuel Whiskers” can you find two mice trying to make a kitten into a pudding).
None of this has to take very long. And for days when you’re feeling overworked and profoundly uncreative, a few minutes of presence can be priceless.
What helps you reconnect with your creativity on a moment’s notice? I’d love to hear, in the comments.
Writers: Tomorrow, Feb. 27, is the last day to register for the next session of The Writer’s Circle. This group offers terrific support for writers who are struggling to finish a project or build a daily writing habit. Find out more, here!