Each of us has a ‘creative bone’ in our body, even the ones who insist that they don’t. The only problem is that we rarely find time to tap into our creativity. Even when we finally make a decision of making time for something creative, it’s hard to determine what to start with! There are so many possibilities, so many classes available in any community. What do we start off with?
Here are 5 steps to get creative again:
1. Practice awareness of your stream of consciousness.
Make a point of spending 15 minutes a day to write/type everything that is going through your mind. It sounds easy, but once you try it out, you’ll find that sometimes your stream of thoughts is not singular. Maybe there are 5 of those streams flowing at the same time. It is up to you to focus on one of them or to switch back and forth between several of them.
Do not hesitate to write nonsense or ‘empty’ sentences such as “My pencil is purple, I can’t wait to eat pizza for lunch and I have no idea why I started writing this.” This is totally acceptable. You are not aiming to publish it in New York Times. This is just an exercise that will help you tune into the thoughts that you are having in the ‘background’.
2. Make a list of the most prominent ideas/thoughts that came up in your writing.
It can be embarrassing to re-read all the stuff that you spilled on paper/screen in the previous week, but remember that this is for your eyes ONLY. No one will ever see it except you, and right now your job is to find patterns, or a lack of them, in your writing. What themes/topics/ideas came up in your writing most often? If nothing came up more than once, take note of that too. Then create a separate file and record the ideas/thoughts that you found funny, interesting or just odd. In other words, see what caught your eye or what surfaced in your writing more than once.
For example, when I was working through this exercise, I noticed that I wrote about my emotions, memories of friends and family. I also noticed that topics related to sports and painting/photography came up very often as well.
3. Pick 3 ideas/topics/activities from the list that you made and dedicate at least 15 minutes to one of these activities over the course of the next few weeks.
This is simply to make sure that you REALLY enjoy the activity/idea that you were thinking of. For example, once upon a time, a friend of mine thought that her new ‘calling’ was rope walking. After I convinced her to go to a local park to practice it for only 15 minutes with the people who often practiced rope walking, she quickly realized that it’s not her ‘thing’ simply because she found the activity a bit repetitive. Of course, this was not an objective opinion, but it was HER opinion – and that’s all that matters for the creativity recovery project. Embracing your tastes, strengths and weaknesses is the key here.
4. Take a one-time class or spend a whole afternoon working on an activity/mini project of your choice.
Many people think that as soon as they ‘discovered’ a talent in something – let’s say in art – they need to spend a fortune and a ton of time to practice it. Taking a one-time class or just thinking of a mini project that takes several hours is quite enough to get started.
5. Set a measurable goal: prepare to showcase your work/skills/ideas – motivate and inspire others!
Scheduling time slots for ‘creative time’ simply won’t work because ‘work time’ always tends to invade the ‘creative time’. Instead, pick a clear goal to work towards. Is your local library hosting a mini art exhibit? Are there any writers’ clubs in your area that host fee mic nights? Is there a fund-raising 5K run/walk taking place in your community? Small events are great for ‘showing off’ a skill that you acquired, to voice the ideas that you’ve been thinking of and to motivate others to do the same. Your first speech at Toastmasters might not move others to tears, and you might end up being the last one at the finish line of your first 5K run, but working towards a clear measurable goal will be a lot easier than endlessly trying to make your creation ‘perfect’. You have your entire life to perfect your skills. Showcasing your progress will not only serve as a motivation to you, but will also inspire others.