I’ve summed up a few important lessons I have learned doing creative work.
Creativity is personal
Creativity is both something we feel in our minds and hearts, and something we do with our bodies to express ourselves.
What it means to be creative and do creative work is unique to every person and that is part of why it’s so hard to pin down exactly what it is. The personal aspect comes through not only in the expression of creative energy itself, but also the way we do it, the way we feel, and how we view comes out. Two people can never do anything exactly the same, there are always variations and this makes it all personal.
If we open our minds and are curious about others, we can learn from them as well as what creativity is.
Inspiration is all around
Often a lack of inspiration keeps us from doing our creative work.
I’ve been there many times. I want to paint, but I have no idea what I want to paint. I kept this going for a couple years. Most of the time I would just swish some paint around and stop because I had no idea what more to do.
I recognize now this for what it is. It’s a made up problem that I held on to in order to avoid the risk of trying and failing.
In reality, inspiration is all around. Nature, people, our homes and living areas, cities, landscapes, small creatures, ideas, emotions, experiences you have had, books, anything and everything out there. Or you can be inspired by what others have accomplished. There is so much if you want to see and feel it.
Use your curiosity and a spirit of discovery to guide you.
Ideas will come if you open your mind
Just like inspiration, ideas are easy to get if you spend time and energy on it. Open yourself to them and let them pour in.
If you feel a lack of good ideas, or any ideas, then it’s time for some brainstorming sessions. Start your idea journal if you haven’t. Start writing them down. Once your brain is in the habit of noticing an idea and making a note of it, more will come to you. If you need ideas for visual art like painting or design work, do the same with a notebook. Sketching out your ideas as often as you can.
The more you do this, the more ideas come. Keep your mind open and don’t judge them. If they aren’t so great, just let them be and move on to the next. Write them all down, select the good ones to refine and pursue.
You must do something
While feeling creative is an emotion, creativity is doing.
The brainstorming exercise is doing too, but beyond that, we must put in effort and energy. It is work. It may not feel like work depending on your perspective and what you are doing, but it still requires energy and mental focus to express yourself.
The real effort comes in when you show up and you really don’t feel like it. I have a nightly painting practice, and some evenings, I am weary and don’t feel like making the effort, but I show up. I put the time in. Doing this day after day is where the real pay off is comes as greater skill, increased creativity and developing your own style.
The act of creating is deeply satisfying
The state of flow is wonderful. Forgetting time and space, what else there is to do, and losing oneself in work satisfies something deep inside.
Flow allows us to create a deep connection within ourselves. There is something that is deeply fulfilling about doing this, and if you can do it on a regular basis, it will help your whole life.
Sometimes I feel flow and sometimes I don’t. I often do while writing, but for me writing is love and connection too, both with myself and others. Afterwards I often feel a sense of elation, no matter how satisfied I am with the quality of my writing.
Creativity is a lifestyle
You can include creativity in everything you do. It’s not limited to only one special activity.
It can be a part of your morning routine, your dinner, your exercise routine, your conversations and interactions with others. There are opportunities for creativity everywhere. It will make your life more varied and interesting. It will help you grow and as you express yourself, and you will learn more about yourself.
Also, using creativity everywhere will help you show the world the real you.
It’s easy to get blocked
Most of us have been there at some point, nothing happens and we have no ideas, feel nothing, and our expression is locked up.
It’s the worst feeling of all. I hate it.
One year I got completely blocked in making my designs. Total blockage. What was the source? After I made what I thought was a masterpiece project, nothing felt good enough. It was pure pain trying to make anything else. It took a couple years to work out of it.
Being blocked is just our fear taking over. The biggest fear is failing and that we won’t be good enough. I felt that, and maybe you have too.
The antidote is courage. Facing the fear every day builds strength. The fear never completely goes away, but we can cope with it and move beyond blocks.
it’s all just an experiment
There is no right or wrong, no final truth, creativity is just a moment we try to be ourselves and in the next moment, there is a small change that we can build on.
This is the experimental perspective and I have used it to help me for a few years now. Everything I make, everything new I try, even every day I live is an experiment.
You can learn and grow from experiments, and with this belief, there are no failures. There is nothing to make us less worthy. We move on to the next experiment with new knowledge and wisdom. If one method doesn’t work, then we try a new one.