To begin, yes this post is for you! Whether you have always felt creative, or you've believed that you don't have a creative bone in your body, YOU ARE CREATIVE! Although we've gotten into the habit of using this word for the artistic, creativity is just simply, having an original thought. I would take it even a step further to say, having an original thought and then doing something about it! This is something that everyone is capable of, and I believe, made to do! It is thrilling to create, because you are bringing something to the world that came from your uniqueness. I could say soooo much on this, especially from the perspective of my relationship with God. That being said, I think that there are practices and mindsets that cultivate creativity, and I thought that I'd share some of mine with you. Whether you're in a season of creative flow, or you're feeling road blocked, I hope that this inspires you to keep making!
Limit Your Resources
To this day, my sister and I credit our parents and our upbringing to why we are so creative. We grew up lacking nothing, and on every holiday we were spoiled beyond belief. I so appreciate though, that the times in between, my parents didn't jump to buy us some new thing. Instead, we were encouraged to be creative with what we had. When summer boredom would ensue, my dad would bring us each home a large cardboard box and my mom would encourage us to build dollhouses out of household supplies. The first time, I remember thinking, what could we possibly have in the house to make something cool enough??? A couple hours later, and my dollhouse was spiffed up with a cupcake liner lampshade, a ziploc bag waterbed, and beautiful wrapping paper wallpaper. This became one of my favorite traditions and fondest memories. All this to say, when your vision isn't cluttered with a ton of obvious options, you start to see the world around you in a new way, and it's full of resources that are available to you. A lot of us postpone starting a project/business because we envision ourselves further down the line with more resources. Unfortunately, these ideas can be paralyzing, and can put off us starting all together. I encourage you to start doing something today, right where you're at, with what you have. Rearrange your furniture, walk around your house and look at objects that could be re-purposed, set a timer for 5 minutes and write out whatever comes to mind. Whatever your creative outlet looks like, work with what you have.
Start Before You're "Ready"
Typing the words above made me shudder. I am prone to being a planning, controlling, perfectionist mess. Talk about enemies of creativity. I'll start with this disclaimer, this section is meant for those who really struggle with perfectionism and postpone starting. My logical mind firmly believes that there is a balance and a wisdom in knowing when to start something. I'll leave it at that. Worrying about the end result of what you're creating can be paralyzing. Some of my favorite things that I've made, were started before knowing what they would become. To counteract perfectionism, I try to begin projects without seeing the full picture in my mind. You may just be able to see one step ahead, and that's ok! Begin with that one step and see where it takes you.
Vulnerability and Originality
Again, creativity means having an ORIGINAL thought. There are so many people who are awesome at reproducing what they see. There is absolutely a place for this, and obviously Pinterest is successful for a reason. It is amazing to be able to create something and give others the opportunity and resource to make it themselves. But would I call reproduction creativity? No, not really. When I'm at a creative road block, I'm always tempted to look around and reproduce something that is already awesome and successful. Unfortunately, when I try to reproduce something, it's easy to play the comparison game, and the end product is not as satisfying. True creativity requires vulnerability. When you make something original, you are showing a piece of yourself to the audience, and that is freaking scary! I used to dodge vulnerability at every turn, but I've been learning to embrace it. Vulnerability is attractive in relationships, and what I used to look at as a weakness, is now a great strength. The cool part about vulnerability, is that it allows others a safe place to be vulnerable as well. True, original creativity opens the door to invite more creativity. Even if you're not ready to carry out some of your original ideas, take the first step in vulnerability. Share your idea with a safe, trusted friend. Even the process of verbalizing your ideas, gets them out of the swirling cycle in your head. Not only will you have given words to your ideas, your vulnerability will extend the invitation to your friend to share their dreams and ideas as well.
Don't Create For Approval
I find this to be one of the most constant creative struggles out there. Who are you creating for? This is something I used to think was never a problem for me. I put on an "I don't care what others think" persona as an armor. A few years back, I stepped back and took a hard honest look on what was holding me back from the goals that I had set for myself. Turns out that I did care what others thought about me, and not just a little.. a lot! In our current world of social medias, it's especially easy to play the comparison game. Unfortunately, comparison does not cultivate creativity, it promotes copying. Thankfully, we already know the opposite of copying...originality, which is the product of vulnerability! These two sections go hand and hand. The hard part about this topic of approval, is that I feel like it is a day to day journey. It's a training of your mind to squelch comparison and embrace promotion in others. If this is a struggle for you, limiting screen time exposure and who you follow on social platforms could be helpful for you. If you feel like making an even bolder move, do the aforementioned and start promoting others! Encourage those that you admire and help them reach their next goal! Start today by sending a text or comment on social media there way, and continue to do so whenever you are struggling.
Experience the New
Get out of your normal spot. I think that this is the quickest change you can make when you're feeling stuck creatively. Go outside. Drive somewhere without knowing the destination. Meet with new people. Join a class. Go to a boot camp. Cook something new. Take a walk. Read a new book. I could go on and on! Most of us know the activities that inspire us (new coffee place) and those that would deter us from creativity (sewing). There is so much to be inspired by that we miss by doing our day to day routines. Another suggestion, switch up the routine! These little or large interruptions to our schedules can set our minds down a new path and get us out of a rut, literally. Not to get too science-y, but our brains form connections for everything, including habitual thoughts. The more your mind goes down that thought road, the easier it is for it to travel it again and again and again. I think about it this way. What do I think about when I'm alone in my car? These are usually the thoughts for me that I have over and over again because I'm not even trying to think about something specific, my mind just naturally travels there! Don't like a specific thought rut that you're stuck in? You have the power to interrupt it! Tools like reading, uplifting others, new positive friend connections, and counseling (I'm a huge proponent!!) can be especially effective in this area. Interrupt your routine today, even with something small! Hold your toothbrush a different way. Drive a new route to work. Switch up your predictable restaurant order. These little things sound silly, but they will cause you to pause and intentionally experience the new.
I hope that these topics help you to look at the word "creativity" in a fresh way and encourage you to continue with your unique work, or to begin again!