When you don’t feel like you’ve ever been a creative person, it can be hard to change that image of yourself. That’s why I’m here, to help you break those molds, find new ways of doing things, and learn to enjoy the act of creating – in whatever way you choose to do so. But how can you be more creative, or learn to open up the creative channels to begin with? What are some of the things that you can do, and not do, to help your creativity shine through?
1) Watch other creatives create, read about other people who are doing what they love to do, and/or watch documentaries about them.
Just the act of watching someone else create something, is enough to get our creative juices flowing. It’s like when you smell food cooking – you haven’t eaten it yet, but your mouth is already watering just thinking about it. Or like when you watch a home improvement show and want to remodel your house.
Seeing people use their creative skills to do something fun, to help others, or to make their life better can inspire us to do the same.
This is one of the exact reasons that I enjoy doing the Q&A Sessions. It’s inspiring to see people who are doing what they love to do. Whether they are doing it as their job, or just to have some fun, we can all learn from them, take part in their fun, and also learn all about their process.
2) Talk to people about their process. Be Curious. Ask questions.
Each artist has a signature style. Hair stylists all have similar, but different ways of cutting and styling hair. People who run their own businesses have their own systems and ways of doing things. Just because what they are doing is similar, and produces the same general end result, doesn’t mean that their process is the same as everyone else’s.
Talk to people, not just about the fact that they are creating something, but about how they do what they do. Doing this gives you the chance to step outside of yourself, and allows you to see how many different ways of doing things there are. Just because you’ve never seen it done, or never done it, doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. Just because you can only think of one way to do something, doesn’t mean that that’s the only way for it to be done. People prove this every single day when they invent new things, or new ways of doing things.
Learning about other people’s process also allows you to begin to figure out what your process is, or may be. To create, you have to find the process that works best for you. Mimicking someone else while you’re learning is okay, but as you practice and move forward, you will begin to find your own way of holding your hands, of using your tools, and of doing what you’re doing.
3) Give yourself a few minutes each day, to just be.
Whether you want to call it meditation, or just chilling, take some time to clear your mind. Find a spot in your house, outside on your porch, in a nearby park, or wherever, that you can go and unplug for at least a few minutes each day. This gives that little voice inside you time to speak.
If you are constantly in a state of busyness, your creative mind has a harder time of breaking through the noise. This is why a lot of writers have to seclude themselves to work on, and finish, their books. Many artists have studios that they escape to, so that they can let their creativity flow. Most of the creative minds I know, need some form of solitude to process things and allow ideas to come through. Even if they take 10 minutes at a time, several times a day, they get away and do their thing.
Doing this also helps us to destress in general, which allows more access to our creative thoughts as well.
4) Follow your passions, your joy, and what makes you happy.
Figure out what it is that you truly enjoy doing, and do it as often as you can. Even if you never make a penny off of it, even if other people think that it’s a waste of time, and even if no one else understands why you want to do it, do what you enjoy doing, just for the fun of doing it.
And remember, just because you used to enjoy doing something, doesn’t mean that you still enjoy it now. So, don’t try to force yourself to continue doing anything that is no longer in line with what you want for your life now.
5) Likewise, if you used to enjoy something, you may still enjoy it, just in different forms.
For instance, you may have loved coloring as a kid. Now, you still enjoy coloring, but you enjoy coloring in adult coloring books, with more complex pictures, shading and tools. Or maybe you enjoy drawing your own pictures and coloring them. Maybe you enjoy coloring on wood or canvas and creating something that didn’t exist before.
In addition to these things, you could also be an adult who still loves to color in “little kid” coloring books sometimes too. Like me. =)
6) Try new things, just to see if you like them.
Pottery, painting, fixing cars, building furniture, gardening, learning to play an instrument, creating videos, writing a story, whatever peaks your interest, or whatever you have the opportunity to learn.
Take a class, or watch YouTube videos. Sometimes we have no idea that we’ll enjoy something until we actually try it.
7) Ask others what they are creating.
When you talk to other people about what they are creating, and share with them what you may be creating, you find kindred spirits. You find new ideas. You find more confidence in what you’re doing. All of this, because talking about being creative helps you to see that you really are more creative than you think you are.
This goes along with talking to people about their process, and watching others create things. We can learn how to do things from other people. We can also find new outlets for our creativity in talking to other people.
I love being crafty and making all kinds of things. Until I started talking to other people, like Jennifer from Thoughtful Gifting, I had no idea that there were places that I could donate my handmade items to. I had actually stopped making a lot of things because I felt like it was all just piling up. So, talking to her about her creative projects gave me motivation to continue with mine.
8) Let your inner kid out to play.
Similar to giving yourself time to just be, if you never let loose, never play, never try new things, how can you find what you enjoy doing? When we were kids, we would try new things just for the sake of doing it. We wouldn’t worry so much about what other people thought, or about how it turned out. We were just playing to play. If what we were making didn’t work out, oh well, on to the next fun idea.
Channel that inner child. Allow yourself to create and play, without any thoughts of it not going right, of people making fun of it, or of whether or not you’ll ever use it.
And if you need a break, go out and spin around in circles, run or skip around your yard, play with your dog, play with a ball, dance around your house, or twist back and forth.
9) Get enough sleep.
If you’re exhausted, your creativity doesn’t flow as well. It’s a pretty simple thing, but one that so many of us forget, or don’t do well with.
10) Learn to deal with stress in a healthy way.
Having repressed anger, sadness, and frustration can block the flow of creativity. Channel those feelings into art, poetry, cleaning, or movement. Or all of the above. Stress causes us all kinds of issues. Like not getting enough sleep, being stressed out blocks our creative channels.
So, do Qigong, Tai Chi, Yoga, Boxing, Running, or whatever helps you to release those negative emotions and move forward from them.
11) Let go of the idea that what you’re doing has to be perfect.
What if, instead of striving for perfection, we instead focus on the enjoyment of what we’re doing over the perfection of it.
I’m a recovering perfectionist, so I know this task isn’t always easy. When I do something creative, I want it to be as good as possible before I let anyone else see it. BUT, “Perfection is the enemy of done”. (A phrase that I heard from Chris Shelton) Meaning, if you keep trying to perfect something, you will likely never finish it because it will never be perfect.
Part of getting over the idea of things having to be perfect is letting go of the idea that people will judge you, or that you are putting yourself out there. Showing people something that you created, and possibly being judged for it, can be scary. It makes you feel very exposed and vulnerable. The trade off is that you have the potential to help someone or make them smile.
So, even if it’s not perfect, if it makes someone smile, or it helps someone, isn’t it worth it?
12) Work to change the way you talk to and about yourself in regards to creativity.
We get stuck in ways of describing ourselves a lot of times, because we repeat automatic thoughts that no longer serve us.
For instance, say you’ve always told yourself that you’re terrified of public speaking because you’re so awful at it. So, you set out to change this; maybe because you want to, or because you need to in order to progress in a job. You’ve been working on getting better at public speaking for a while. You’ve taken classes, practiced, and you actually feel a lot more comfortable with it. But, because you don’t catch and change those automatic thoughts that you have, whenever someone mentions you speaking somewhere, you automatically say (or think to yourself), “I’m terrified of public speaking because I’m so awful at it”.
Despite the fact that you’ve been working hard, and you’ve gained confidence in this area, you’re still likely to dread having to speak publicly because of the way you are talking to yourself.
Give yourself credit for the things that you’ve been working on, or those things that you want to work on, and stop saying things like, “well I’m just not that good at it”, or “I’m terrible at _________” (you fill in the blank).
The same thing happens when we try new things creatively. We fail to give ourselves credit for what we’ve learned and how well we’re doing. Instead, we keep telling ourselves, and others, that we aren’t that good at whatever we’re doing, because that’s what we’ve always said.
If perfect is the enemy of done, then negative self-talk is the enemy of being confident in what we’re creating in the first place.
13) Don’t compare yourself and your work to anyone else’s.
Sometimes, we don’t give ourselves credit for how well we’re doing because we think we’re not good enough. We discount our creations and our achievements based solely on the fact that it’s not “as good as someone else’s”.
Even when we make something that is beautiful, and people love it, we can’t let ourselves appreciate the compliments that we’re being given. We say things like, “yeah, it’s pretty, but it’s not as good as so and so’s”, or “thank you, but I wish I could do it like this person or that person”.
Remember that everyone’s work is different. Even if three people paint the same picture, with the same paint, and the same tools, each one will look different. Yours is your interpretation of things, and others have their own interpretations. Learn to appreciate the unique qualities in your own work, and that of others, but don’t waste your time and energy comparing yourself and your work to anyone.
Figuring out how to be more creative, really isn’t a hard thing to do in theory.
What is hard for most people is figuring out what they like, what makes them unique, and dealing with the feelings and emotions that this journey can bring up. When we’re seeking a new path for ourselves, or trying to expand the one we’re currently on, it often means that we have to also expand the way we see the world. In being more open-minded about the world and the people around us, we begin to see things that we never did before. We begin to see the creator that is in all of us, just waiting to be set free.
If we can allow this to happen, we can all work to make the world a happier, more beautiful place for everyone who lives in it.