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3 Secrets to Creativity

People often tell me that they’re not “the creative type”.  A lot of those same people tell me how creative I am, as if it were some rare trait that only a few gifted people possess.

Compliments are nice, but I’m here to tell you that creativity is not something you’re born with. There’s no “creative type”. There are people who tend to gravitate towards things like art, dance, theater, writing, and basketweaving. Some people are naturally unafraid to express themselves, while others are more timid. Some people are more visual and emotional and tend to think more creatively without really trying. This really isn’t any different from people who are naturally good at math, or who think analytically, or highly useful people like my husband who can look at any broken do-dad and know how to fix it (I, however, am much better breaking things. Match made in heaven, right?).

We all have a creative streak whether we use it or not. We may not all be inclined to paint or write novels, but everyone is moved by some form of creative expression, and I firmly believe that everyone can become adept at some sort of creative pursuit whether it’s writing operas or creating flower arrangements.

After years of listening to people lament about their perceived lack of creativity and my observations of “creative types”, here are some of the differences I’ve noticed:

  1. Don’t be afraid to screw up. People who are truly in tune with their creativity aren’t afraid of making lousy stuff. If you’re too afraid of messing up, you’ll never start, and nothing will get made.
  2. Let your ideas change and evolve as you create. I was talking to my friend the other day, and he told me that he doesn’t like to make art because it never ends up looking the way he pictured it in his head. This is a common complaint. I’ll tell you a secret: I make a lot of art, and it NEVER comes out the way I’d originally imagined it, but sometimes it’s even better. Creativity is not the ability to reach into your brain and pull out your intended creation intact; it’s more about discovering as you create and allowing your work to take on a life of its own. It’s spontaneity.
  3. Spend some time in La-La land. Though I was a good student, I used to get in trouble for daydreaming a lot in school. I even wrote a poem about it. If you don’t let your imagination wander, you won’t get idea; and if you don’t get ideas, how will you create anything? On the same note, it’s important to let those ideas marinate for awhile before you try to make them real. Yes, some ideas just burst for fully-formed, but that usually only happens in the movies. I recently re-learned this when I got the sudden urge to start working on my novel again. I’d been stalled for month even though I still thought about the story a lot. As the words flowed out during my writing session today, I realized that I hadn’t gotten to know my characters well enough, so no wonder the story wasn’t working! After letting them run wild in my head for a little while, I found out who they were and they were able to take on lives of their own.

I’ve had plenty of creative blocks before, and I’ve found that in each case I wasn’t doing at least one of these things. When I do all three, I find that my creativity flows like a fire hose. Try applying them to your own life. See what happens.

So, do you consider yourself a “creative type”? Do you run into creative snags?

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Wise Words: Our True Nature

I have come to believe that creativity is our true nature, that blocks are an unnatural thwarting of a process at once as normal and as miraculous as the blossoming of a flower at the end of a slender green stem.

-Julia Cameron, from The Artist’s Way

There is Only Love

If you’re a creative person (and you are, you just may not know it yet) you probably know what it’s like to be stuck. You might sit down to create something or face a problem, but something seems to block you, and you can’t put you’re finger on it.

If you have a partner, children, coworkers, or if you interact with other humans at all (most of us do) you know what it’s like to be frustrated, hurt or angry with someone else.

If you’ve ever been on a diet, had nasty thoughts about your body, or stayed on the beach because you wouldn’t take off your sarong to get in the water, you know what it’s like to struggle with some degree of self-loathing.

In my last post, I talked about one of my favorite mantras: I Choose. I’ve really gotten into using mantras lately and I can’t believe the change in my attitude and perception. Here”s another powerful mantra I use when I’m frustrated for any reason.

There is only love.

I tend to use this mantra for three things:

  • my own creative work
  • the way I relate to others
  • the way I treat my body and myself.

If I’m in a creative funk, I sit with that feeling and usually realize that I’m afraid of something. Failure, judgement, limitations, whatever. The only way I can get out of that block is to remember how I love to create, and how I love to share my  creations with others. Fear is the opposite of love, and my creativity can only flow when I create from love, not fear.

If I have a disagreement with my husband or a family member, if someone cuts me off in traffic or if a cashier grumps at me, I say to myself “There is only love.” Instead of seeing the other person as a jerk or feeling like someone is out to get me, I try to be compassionate. They probably weren’t trying to hurt me. Maybe they’re having a bad day for whatever reason. It’s ok if Sam doesn’t see everything exactly the way I do, we just haven’t found that common ground yet.

I’ve a proficient intuitive eater, but every once in  awhile I still have a ghost of a bad body thought, or I might feel slightly guilty for eating something that isn’t good for me. Or, I might be stressed out and feel like emptying out my chocolate stash, but I know that isn’t in my best interest. I remember, “There is only love.” No need to guilt trip myself for a treat. I love my body, so I try to treat it well.

I use this Every. Day. I write it in my journal every morning when I wake up so I can start my day thinking this way.

Just write it down every morning. Say it whenever you’re frustrated. I can’t believe how powerful it’s been in my life.

Try it!