Do you ever just get completely overwhelmed with the humdrum of life and feel there is just no time to let your creative thoughts and ideas lead you down the garden path (in a really good imaginative, make-it way)?
Maybe you are spending a lot of time smiling at people you’d rather not smile at or picking up baked beans from under the kitchen table or trying not to accelerate instead of brake? Mmmm. *Shudder* I know.
These less fabulous things can all conspire to make you feel as imaginative as an old boot. No offence to old boots. I have some nice ones myself but they don’t really hatch a lot of magical things or makes.
All these distractions and flat feelings can have you thinking you’ll do the creative thing when life is different, because NOW is way too hard. Maybe when you’re older. Or when you live somewhere else. Or when other people in your house are older. Or when you are someone else, even. Ugh.
The thing is, it’s pretty important not to wait. The idea that every moment is precious is anxiety inducing, but it’s also kind-of true. Surely we don’t really want to wish our precious moments away in some kind of old-boot-filled waiting room, wearily looking for a sign that it’s our turn and things have changed.
Instead, let’s assume things are on the move for us right now. The winds of creative change are blowing in and today is a good day to let them propel us towards the kind of stuff we really like doing.
Imagine those winds are a little bit Magic Faraway Tree-like. And the land at the top of the tree is the Land of Creative-r You. Some Dick and Fanny-ish types are ushering you up the ladder to this nice imaginative and messy place. Imagine it. Surely you should allow yourself to be ushered because a) you get to do fun stuff that makes the world make more sense to you and b) there could be ginger beer.
Granted in real life there is no Dick. Nor a Fanny. But there is you and me and we both want the best for everyone.
Ginger Beer aside, I’m guessing you really are super keen to spend some time cutting or pasting or drawing or writing or sewing or painting or photographing or song writing in this kind of real life land? (Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this far down the page!)
Here are a bunch of ways to keep the focus on the creative bits of you each day, even without someone pushing you and promising you ginger beer…
1. Carve out tiny snippets of time aka Tiny Time
Perhaps you are very results-driven and you want to have your whole book/painting/journal/collage/song done and dusted as soon as possible? Yet finding the time to achieve this ace creative feat seems near impossible, partly because of the defeating old-boot feeling and partly because of all the baked beans and smiles. Grr.
It’s super important to shift your big-achievement, results-driven focus across to pint-sized wins instead.
Granted it’d be dandy to go on a 3 week retreat, avoiding the baked beans and getting the work you love doing or want to explore done. Yet it’s a tiny handful of creative types who actually get to approach their work that way.
Take the snippets and pockets of minutes and say ‘thank you very much’ to them as they show themselves during the day. They are a great start. 15 minutes is ace for scribbling/doodling down ideas. 20 minutes might get you a little further down the road on your project. An hour can feel like a day if you’re in the zone.
Incorporate this snippet-y approach every day and you’ll be making headway and reprogramming yourself creatively in no time at all. Let’s hear it for Tiny Time! *cheers*
2. Gem hunt to set a fresh tone and turn over a new leaf
I talk about gems a lot on my blog. I think they are powerful things. Teaching yourself to notice the gems in life not only helps you tap in to the beauty in the everyday, it sets an expectant tone for interesting and inspiring discoveries and adventures. It keeps you creatively poised, ready to strike out.
Approaching your day with the assumption that gems await pushes you into a whole other frame of mind, one that’s curious, positive, explorative and hopeful.
This is such a great mindset to operate from and a great way to be ever-ready for inspiration, ideas and surprising creative output. Gems for life.
3. Stop faffing about online and being regretful/mournful/envious (if you can!)
Argh. The internet. So great. Such a time suck. So full of all the things. Such a mindless-scroll-inducer. I love the internet, but jeepers it will gobble up your day and your faith in yourself if you let it.
It’s so easy to hang out online, looking at the lives and work of others, bringing your own imaginative industriousness to a grinding halt. It’s also really easy to decide that everyone is cleverer or happier or more successful than you. These easy-yet-crap responses to something that we should use for growth and for good are potentially confidence-sapping and day-disappearing. Abort! Abort!
Also – avoid other people’s drama. It will suck the ideas and optimism out of you!
That half hour you spend diddling about on Facebook could be so much better spent, generally… (Not always, but generally!) Those precious minutes you spend wrestling with your feelings about someone else’s gosh-darned-fricking-not-you-again-you-clever-clogs wins could be spent having a nice cup of tea and big ponder/do/think about you.
4. Concentrate on one or two favourite projects for now
Ideas are wonderful, I do agree, but they’re nothing if you don’t get cracking and make some of them happen.
Choose one project. Or choose two (I am soft like that!) Map them out by writing down 10 things you need to do to make them a reality. Then get to work. Simple. Off you go.
If you are not sure which projects to concentrate on, they’ll be the one/s that you keep thinking about a lot. The ones you come back to over and over. The ones that give you a nice creative burn – a leeetle bit like heartburn but less reflux-y. More of a sharp warmth, if that makes sense. Start with those.
5. Prioritise your creative life without guilt
Creative work is not a frivolous endeavour. It’s important work.
Creative work contributes to the culture of you, helping you to make sense of who/where you are. It contributes to the culture of our community, sharing the experience of being human and helping you and others to make sense of where they fit in. Not frivolous. Super important and in fact a kind of GPS for humanity.
Please help yourself and the other humans to find their way. Follow your creative heart.
My advice to you is to block out time in your calendar as you would other important appointments as often as possible. Because helping you/all the humans IS important work.
6. Take deeper breaths. Less shallow breathing, more slowing things down
You know how we were talking about the baked beans and the smiles and all the things that overwhelm and render you boot-ish? You need to learn how to slow all that overwhelm down and shake it off. It’s not easy, but one thing that works for me is to take deep breaths and remember that those shallow, half breaths we take when we’re stressed are making things one zillion times harder and one jillion times more joyless.
Not only are you running on empty, you are fighting every step of the way. Slow down, stop resisting and fighting, look around and take in the view. Accept, observe, breathe properly and fully.
Once you slow things down you leave room for better moments, better minutes, better hours. You also leave room for better ideas and experiences.
Science has proven all this. At the Pip Institute. *coughs*
7. Get handsy for Pete’s sake. Pen, paper, glue, paint, glitter, fabric, scissors, snip!
Pondering stuff and hatching ideas is great, but make some very regular time to get a bit preschool and immerse yourself in creative play. You don’t even have to come up with an ‘end product’. Allow yourself to just mess about and see what comes your way.
It can seem like creativity exists in a commercial bubble at the moment and everything must be made for a marketable reason. Bucking that trend and making things for the feel and fun of it can help you get better connected to your inner artist/hooligan/mess-maker/story teller. Which will spark creative growth. *cheers*
8. Hatch a mindful ritual and give yourself a little talking to each day
I read a book by Ruby Wax a little while ago. It was about mindfulness and how we can change our brains by practicing simple mindfulness exercises.
I’m 100% in the brain-changing-fan camp and I think that any opportunity we have to spark those synapses and positively mess with our brain matter should be grasped with both hands/hemispheres.
Mindfulness exercises can help you with slowing down, reducing stress, noticing details and anchoring yourself in the world. Especially good when you are feeling like an old boot or want to make room for a nicer creative life. (Ruby’s book will teach you how to do those exercises.)
Each day, tuck yourself away somewhere in your house, grab a cup of tea, and allow yourself five minutes to digest the interesting and inspiring bits of your day. Have a little chat to yourself about the good bits, the gems that showed themselves and any little surprises or ace moments. Think of it as a reset button where you get to recalibrate and get back on course with a creative, curious, prepare-to-be-delighted mindset.
Phew. Okay. There you have it. A cheat sheet for restoring creativity and nicer times. I hope it’s helpful and I wish you Tiny Time, gems and messy fun in your life! And less boot-ishness and rogue baked beans.
See you back here soon!
PS: Honestly I KNOW the Faraway Tree analogy was drawing a long bow. (Wisha wisha)