Friday, April 11, 2014

You Are Your Own Creative Solution

john cleese quote
There's only one thing that gets in the way of creativity.

You!

Yes, creative "blocks" are normal. Some days we show up to our medium of choice to express ourselves, ready to create, and then...nothing. Ugh.

We stare at the blank space in front of us, waiting, thinking, and waiting some more. We fidget. Our minds wander. We pace. We sigh. We get frustrated. We spin ourselves in circles in our swivel chair (well, I do). Anything to get the creative juices flowing again.

Creative "blocks" are temporary. I like to think of them not as blocks but as incubation periods when things are happening invisibly under the surface as our senses are perceiving the world. Even though we are not creating visibly, we are still creating underneath it all. A block implies impeded flow. The more you focus on being blocked, the more blocked you will feel. However, imagining that ideas are incubating conjures images of growth. Just that shift in thinking will begin to open the channels.

But to create consistently, rather than focus on the block, you must see yourself as the creative solution.

In my last post ("The Secret To Creativity?"), I mentioned that the secret to creativity is showing up. Creativity is work, plain and simple, only it's the kind of work that comes effortlessly when you enjoy the process. We are creative beings who are designed to create, only we fall short of creating what we want when we get in our own way.

So...get out of your own way.

Reckon with your own character.

Understand that creativity requires us to be curious. Without curiosity, there's no exploration. Being curious about things opens us up to questions, which opens up our minds, frees our thinking, and allows us to see things from new angles.

Creativity requires us to take risks. If we never attempt anything creative, we will never know where our talents lie. If you feel drawn toward a specific creative endeavor, take the chance. Explore it. Cultivate it. Experiment with it. Grow with it. You don't have to be a Picasso to paint or a Hemingway to write. This doesn't mean that you will always create high-quality or finished content every day, and that's okay. It means to show up, take a risk, push yourself to try new things and experiment with your form. Jump in and enjoy the process.

Creativity requires our energy. That's because creativity is energy, and this energy wants to move. Without our energy, creativity stagnates...and so do we.

Creativity requires us to be patient. It requires time and it doesn't like to be rushed. It wants your full attention not your frustration. The attribute of patience is learned through the discipline of waiting, yet in this culture of immediate gratification, many of us are not very amenable to waiting. If you find yourself in a waiting period, then it may be time to back off a bit or do something totally unrelated while your ideas incubate. Just trust the process.

During the incubation period, you can do a number of things, creative or otherwise, that may not be related to your current project. For example, stash away anything that inspires you (photos, thoughts, quotations, films...the medium doesn't matter as long as it inspires you). When things are incubating, go to your stash file with an open mind.

You can also grab a book (I like to open to a random page, choose the third sentence, and then use that as a sentence starter to generate ideas), meditate, clear your mind, or try different disciplines. The trick is to do something else, switch up the neural pathways in the brain, practice patience, and know that all is working out beneath the surface.

And while you're at it, strengthen your thinking by getting a better grip on your mind. If negative thoughts creep in, replace them with positive affirmations. You are creative by design.

Use that creativity and you will find that you have been the solution all along.

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