If your life was a book shelf, how much shelf space is currently dedicated to creativity? In my case, not as much as I’d like. Over the last few years of trying to cultivate my creative practice whilst juggling work, relationships, family, friends and life in general, I’ve realised 3 things:
1) Creativity can’t be crammed into the tiny white spaces left in my diary after I’ve filled it with other pressing tasks and priorities. It doesn’t work that way. I’ve tried telling myself I will be creative from 3pm – 7pm on Friday afternoon (after my appointment at the dentist and before I meet my friends for drinks) and it has unsurprisingly failed every single time!
2) I can’t put a deadline on my creative impulses. They show up when they show up. At the same time, creativity loves constraints and occasionally, I’ve written something deeply moving, only because I had to hand it in by 7pm. Creativity is full of contradictions. It is slippery, surprising, elusive and magically irrational.
3) Creativity is a mistress who needs to be seduced, not a race-horse who can be whipped into action. I can entice her by taking long walks, playing with colours, visiting bookshops, frequenting flea markets, chatting to strangers, traveling to new shores and making time to engage in spontaneous, joyous ramblings. I can flirt with her endlessly and love her deeply, but never ever “own” her.
We constantly play hide and seek. I run after creativity with everything I’ve got and sometimes come up empty-handed. Other times though, I get a slight whiff of her magic and it is enough for me to know that she lies buried deep within me and always will.
Here are 5 of my favourite ways to awaken tiny sparks of creative magic:
1) Morning Pages- 3 pages of stream-of-consciousness writing in a journal meant only for your eyes. It is the most freed up, liberated space to experiment, get it all wrong and occasionally write something wild and surprising. Works for everyone, not just writers. It’s a great gift from the wonderful book- the Artists Way.
2) Spoken Word Poetry- I’m always inspired by the honesty and bravery of performed poetry. Here’s one brilliant, heartfelt example.
3) Long walks in the woods. Can be 20 minutes, 2 hours or 2 days. Alone if possible and ideally without a map.
4) Elizabeth Gilbert on our elusive creative genius– a TED talk, a manifesto and a re-affirming reminder about the many ways to play with creativity and let it come to us.
5) Artist Dates- Yet another life-changing contribution from the book “The Artist’s Way”. It involves taking yourself out on a date (alone) and doing something fun and festive which inspires your soul. Here are 101 ideas.
Onwards and upwards…. towards our individual creative adventures, however big or small.
Photo credit: AlmaArte https://www.flickr.com/photos/almaarte_photography/