I always find it interesting when people say things like “I’m not creative” or “That’s because you’re creative.” Often times people view creativity as a rare gem for only a select few. I would argue that at some point in your life you had access to creativity. I mean if we want to get into semantics and precision of language (shoutout to The Giver and the hubs), creative means “relating to or involving the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.” I mean hopefully most people have an original thought/idea every once in awhile right? And artistic work can be everything from a speech to the art of conversation. Not just traditional art pieces like paintings and sculptures. So if we all had access to creativity at some point, what happened? Somewhere along the way, many people lose their imagination or have someone who discourages it from growing any further. Whatever it was, I think most (not all) of us start out as creative, playful children. We have imaginary friends, color things in crazy funky colors, draw weird creatures that don’t actually exist, and participate in all sorts of creative play scenarios. As we grow up, we tend to focus on reality, to-do lists, and “real-life” instead of giving ourselves time and space to be creative. I continue to struggle with this, but over the last couple years I have found a few ways that work for me in creating space for creativity to cultivate and grow. Here are a few of my go-to tips on cultivating a creative life:
- Have a Creative Outlet: One of the things I struggled most with initially was not having a creative outlet. My life was consumed by work and coaching. I needed to give myself something outside of those things as a creative outlet. It’s almost a way to force yourself to practice creating and in turn, it will help cultivate creativity throughout your life. I started dabbling in painting, DIY projects, and eventually got back into sewing. Fast forward to the last couple years and Old Pink House along with photography have given me a great creative outlet to practice new things and cultivate and challenge my creativity. Having an outlet can be as simple as trying something new, journaling, or taking a class. Make time and have a place where creativity is encouraged.
- Engage in New Ideas: This takes work and can be uncomfortable at times. If you stay inside your own head and don’t engage in new ideas around you, you will get stuck in a rut. Read books and blogs that challenge you, read an article that has a fresh perspective on an old topic, hang out with people that aren’t exactly like you, and experience new places and things to keep you fresh. It doesn’t have to be huge, but challenge your mind and you’ll be surprised at the impact that has on your ideas. This is where you gain the “original ideas” part of the definition. Feed off the thoughts of others and then create your own!
- Turn off the Noise: The last six months have been huge for my husband and I in this category. We haven’t had cable the last three years, but we definitely used to watch more television. It is amazing how quickly the evening disappears when you’re watching re-runs of Big Bang Theory, Jeopardy, and Family Feud. We have made a conscious effort to turn off the television, put phones away (I’m still working on this because #socialmedia), and allow time to think, create, and engage with each other. The night seems exponentially longer and more fun without the television. I can read, think about those new ideas, brainstorm projects, write, talk with my husband, and dream. In a society filled with noise and constant access to media, it can be hard to make space, but I would argue this is one of the most important things in cultivating creativity.
- Build a Community of Creators: Your tribe and community is huge in the process of creating. Surround yourself with dreamers and creative people. You feed off the people around you and the support of others is incredibly helpful in growing in this area. I’m lucky enough to have a husband and sister who are both creative people. I also have friends from all seasons of life who live out creativity everyday. From talented photographers to chefs on a pizza boat in the USVI (check them out here) to house-flippers and DIY extraordinaries to education innovators… the list goes on and on. Even when I’m not geographically connected to them, their work, life, and passion inspire me to continue to pursue my own. Build a tribe. Engage with a community of creators. Encourage one another.
- Get Out of Your Comfort Zone: Again, learning new things and trying new things helps engage the mind and body in a new way. If you work to regularly get out of your comfort zone and routine, new ideas are bound to find you. For me, on top of reading and engaging in new ideas, I love to travel and see places I’ve never seen. There is something about being completely immersed in a country where you don’t know the language and seeing history come alive that truly awakens the mind and senses. You see the world in a new way and open your mind to new ideas. If that’s not possible, try a new activity, take a class, go to a local conference, or just try some international cuisine you’ve never tried. The list is endless.
- Write It Down: For me, having access to Notes or Evernote on my phone or a journal is key in jotting down ideas. It is therapeutic in a way to write ideas down, brainstorm a little, and let the creative juices flow. Take time out to just sit and brainstorm those ideas you have, sketch, or process what you’ve been reading and experiencing. The reflection helps solidify what you’ve learned and brings it to life.I took my car in for tire rotation the other day and sat for an hour just brainstorming ideas from posts I wanted to write to things I wanted to create.
How do you make space for creativity? Any new tips?