While most of us desire a dynamic and exciting life that honours and nurtures our creative impulses, it is all too common to have our creativity relegated to the “back burner” as we take care of the business of contemporary life. Meetings, errands, paying the bills and preparing the meals sidelines the CD project, the series of photographs, the collection of poems and the new choreography idea. Below is a list of 10 steps that you can take to help you establish creativity as a priority in your daily life.
1. Make a decision. Choose a creative project you want to focus on – it might involve writing, stitching, painting, cooking, drawing and so on. Simply decide on something you’d like to create. Choose ONE thing. Often we are plagued with so many ideas or half finished projects that we don’t know where to start. Clarity of focus often builds momentum.
2. Start Small. If you haven’t been keeping a regular creative schedule don’t take on a project that is too large. For example, if you want to start writing – creating with words – don’t start with writing a novel. Work up to large-scale projects with smaller works. What about starting with writing a short story or poem?
3. Break it Down. Think about the project you want to create and see if you can break it down into a series of small steps. For example, let’s say you wanted to create an encaustic collage painting. Some of your small steps might include: collecting your collage materials, establishing a color scheme, sourcing a base panel or support, playing with the collage materials, experimenting with possible composition ideas in your sketchbook, applying layers of wax (perhaps over a series of days), and so forth. Anticipating and planning small steps allows you use small increments of time to move the project along.
4. Do it Daily. Set aside a minimum of 15 – 30 minutes per day to work on your creative endeavor. Sometimes waking up a half hour earlier provides the most productive time, or perhaps you could use some time immediately following dinner or when the kids have been put to bed. Consistency in fostering your creative life is fundamental. By committing to a daily practice you send a strong message to yourself that this is important.
5. Create a Space. Organize an area where you can work on your creative project undisturbed. Ideally, it would also be a space where you could leave your creative work in progress. Sometimes this means converting an extra bedroom or closet into a workspace. Consider this step another opportunity to get creative with your space.
6. Create a Ritual. Establish an action that functions as a signal that you are about to start your creative work. For me it involves putting on my smock that hangs on a hook close to the entrance of my studio. Another friend of mine lights a candle before he starts painting. What could you do that triggers your work sessions? I’d love to hear about your creating rituals as well – so please share!
7. Collect Your Ideas. Keep an idea book or sketchbook with you throughout your day to record thoughts, ideas, reflections, inspirations, sketches, musings and paraphernalia. While I generally keep my larger sketchbooks in my studio (unless I am travelling), I always have a small sketchbook or pad with me that tucks into my purse, backpack or cargo pants pocket. You never know when something will grab your attention and you want to have a system to capture those fleeting thoughts. How do you collect your ideas?
8. Cultivate Your Curiosity. One of the most powerful allies in the creative process is your curiosity. Try to learn something and experience something new everyday. Notice where your life has become routine and explore how you can spice it up by adding variety and novelty. Record your discoveries in your idea/sketchbook.
9. Take a Risk. Identify something you’ve been putting off because you are unsure or fearful of the outcome or are worried about how it might be received. Is it introducing a new colour into your palette, wearing something daring that you have sewn, speaking out on an issue that’s been occupying your thoughts or playing a sequence of dissonant notes in a song before leading the listener back to a safe landing? How could you challenge yourself to take a creative risk every week?
10. Foster Your Personal Energy. Creating requires a great deal of focus and energy. You can help your odds of building personal energy reserves by practicing a series of self-care routines. One of the easiest actions you can take is to keep hydrated. Make water your first and last drink of the day along with drinking several glasses of water in between. A rough estimate suggests drinking half your body weight in ounces of water per day. For example a person weighing 140 pounds would want to drink 70 ounces of water daily. This becomes increasingly important during the summer months when temperature climb. Flavour your water with fresh cut lemons and limes, tropical fruit or berries. Boil your water and sip “Silver Tea” as my grandmother would say throughout the day. Once again, get creative with infusing your body with water. (More self care tips to come!)
Often the actions that lead to large breakthroughs with our creative endeavours are a series of small steps. Combining these actions consistently over extended periods of time can result in dramatic improvements with your enjoyment of creating and the success that you are able to achieve. Give them a try and let me know how it goes!