Creativity. A must have for us, no? Whether you’re a novelist, blogger, sculptor or baker—or with anything you’re truly invested in doing—we need that creative muse to inspire us and enrich our work.
And how frustrating when that very creativity flies for the summer to Brazil.
We all have that happen, no? When you just can’t find that spark to save your stinkin’ life.
And we all also know that getting angry about it doesn’t help one blessed thing.
So, how do we find that creative spirit again?
A key lies in the opening here—the must have. How often do we feel pressured to produce? Often, no? We all have busy lives, in addition to whatever we are creating. And unless you’re retired, sometimes it’s even tough to find the time to carve out for your creative endeavor. Even if it has to be done.
And that’s an inspiration killer if ever there was one.
Maybe your boss is breathing down your neck. Maybe a deadline looms. All those “outer” circumstances aren’t going to change.
So, focus on the thing itself—keep your eye single—rather than the deadline. It won’t make the deadline go away, but it will free you up, at least for a time. And often, just a few minutes will light the spark.
Find your creative spirit again by taking the pressure off.
You can also change your mind about how you work. Which will change your mind as you do it.
Before you begin, see the project going well. Visualize yourself enjoying the time as you produce what you produce. Make it your intent to have fun with it.
This sounds simplistic and too easy. But I promise—if you do this every time, a switch in your brain will flick and creativity will shine forth so much more easily.
Take all of those “I can’t,” “I don’t know,” “I’m overwhelmed” thoughts and instead put in their position, “What if . . .?”
If you stay in a place of feeling overwhelmed, or stumped, or doubting whether you can do something, and instead ask open-ended questions, you’re much more likely to have solutions bubbling up from your intuition.
And that’s where creativity lives.
“What if” questions open the door new ideas.
As Einstein said, “To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination.”
Okay, so sometimes your mind is on a continuous reel you just can’t seem to stop. And it’s really hard to focus on a creative endeavor when you have fifty-four other necessary tasks running through your mind.
So, you need a way to derail that circular train.
Meditate. Even if for 15 minutes. Go for a walk. Soak in a tub. Do anything that quiets the mind, again, even if only for a short time.
The bigger the project, the more time you may need to spend on this quieting process. I counsel my editing clients, once they send manuscripts to me, and in between major revisions, to go stare at the water, go hike a mountain. It takes a while to get all those characters and plot lines out of your head.
But getting them out causes you to return with fresh eyes.
If a writer, sit in stream of consciousness, penning as you go. A Western painter I know will do watercolor abstracts in between. A friend who’s a renowned sculptor will make simple pots and ashtrays now and then—you know, the kind we made in elementary school!
Just do something in your field you that takes no thought, and let it flow.
Learn a new skill.
Anything new. Take up basket weaving or speaking Spanish. This again jumpstarts the brain.
Don’t have time to learn Spanish before that report or blog or short story is due? Make a new recipe. Learn a new yoga move.
The point is, it doesn’t matter what the thing is, just that you haven’t done it before.
I can be in the most creatively arid place in the world, and read a great novel and inspiration just surges. To a lesser extent, movies do this for me as well. As does visiting the museum. Or watching a glassblower at work.
It doesn’t really matter what sort of art you’re perusing. The point is to engage the right side of the brain—the one in charge of feelings, perceptions—rather than the left hemisphere, which carries out logic.
It’s that right side where your creativity lives, and where it thrives.
All of these have in common taking your mind out of its rut, which unburies creativity from the mud and mire. And that’s the point, no? Because creativity really didn’t fly to Brazil—it’s still there, ready to flourish again in the light.
You just have to find that light.
“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try.”
How do you woo your creative muse?
Award-winning writer and editor Susan Mary Malone is the author of the novels, "I Just Came Here to Dance" and "By the Book," as well as four co-authored nonfiction books, including "What’s Wrong with My Family?" and many published short stories. Forty-plus Malone-edited books have now sold to traditional publishers.