As we move into U.P. spring, it’s hard to know just how gradual this movement may be, how long a gray, muddied limbo between snowy wonders and warm blossoming may go on, and how many restrictions, challenges, and losses we may need to weather through this time. These possibilities alone might nudge us to descend into the doldrums.
But we don’t have to feel diminished by any of this. We can choose to expand our world by exercising our innate creative capacities. In my years teaching visual art in public schools, I saw over and over again how by a certain age, most kids would decide they were good at an art or not. That inner critic can loom so large that many who did not see themselves as “the artist,” “the singer,” “the musician,” etc., might never participate willingly in such activities again.
Do you have to excel at fishing to go fish? At cross-country skiing to go ski? Creativity is part of human nature, and much-needed to come home to ourselves, reduce stress, and increase self-expression and novelty. And if anything is going to combat the stay-at-home same-old same-olds, it’s novelty!
So no matter how rusty, shoddy, or splendid you may believe your creative abilities are, you can take some time this season, even for a few minutes at a time, to juice up your life through your creativity.
If you feel at a complete loss as to where to begin, check out what kinds of guided creative experiences might be available to you locally or online, and pick one that sparks your curiosity.
If you already know of something creative you enjoyed doing as a kid, consider exploring a do-able version of it that excites you now.
If you create regularly but feel you’re in a bit of a slump, try a new art form.
It’s likely to take you in a new direction and/or spice up your old one.
If any of these suggestions make you nervous, that might just indicate you’re on the right track! As artist Henri Matisse once said, “Creativity takes courage.”
If an act is truly creative, it’s a step into the unknown, so there will be plenty of opportunities for your inner critic or inner curmudgeon to try to hold you back. But you can decide which part of you is in charge, and go for it anyway, if only for the pure daring of it!
So, here are some solid do’s and don’ts to help you along the way:
DO create a regular routine of creative time. Don’t wait for inspiration to descend from on high. While it‘s wonderful when that happens, research shows habitual creative time not only increases how much you create, but also helps you generate new creative ideas. So if you’re not creating regularly, put it in your calendar, repeatedly, even if for short bursts of time after prepping in advance.
DONT try to critique or refine your creation at the outset. There will time for that later. The beginning is the time for the rough sketch, the raw draft, the stumbling notes. It’s the time when a field full of possibilities is being explored. Newly-born humans don’t walk, and newly-started projects don’t usually seem like masterpieces. Nurture this tender stage. And if you choose to share this part of your process, only do so with those you can trust one-hundred percent to cheer you on.
DO open up to new experiences. They can trigger new creativity, even if seemingly unrelated.
DO your best to open up your senses more fully to what’s around you. Listen, look, smell, feel, sense with greater attention, and you may find new inspiration even in familiar surroundings, as well as feel more fully present and alive.
DO shake things up if you get stuck–create in a new or even unusual location, do a repetitive non-creative task, or go for a walk. In fact, the connection between walking and creativity has been confirmed by research. According to a 2014 Stanford University Study, a person’s creative output goes up an average of 60% when walking, whether indoors or out. (And a little personal confirmation—ideas for this article came to me while out on a walk.)
DON’T become overwhelmed by a big idea or project you may have come up with. Chunk it down into manageable steps, and even micro steps if needed.
DO remember that everything man-made once existed in imagination only, and honor that magical capacity within yourself and others.
DON’T listen to the naysayers in your head or your life. Be bold, and put your attention on your freedom to choose to create instead.
DO remember that creativity includes more than fine art. It can also be how you put together a meal, a gift, a room, a schedule, resolve a challenge….
DON’T use the truism above to justify shying away from a creative activity that intrigues you.
DO hang around with other creative people. Creativity can be contagious!
DON’T imagine what “others” might think or say about your creation. It’s none of your business anyway. Your job is to nourish your creative faculties.
DO get enough sleep. The brain requires adequate sleep to process ideas and to function well. And the rest of you needs sleep to be able to carry out your creative ideas effectively.
Roslyn Elena McGrath supports fulfilling your innate potential through soul and intuition-based sessions, classes, and products at EmpoweringLightworks.com, and publishing Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine.
Excerpted from the Spring 2022 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2022, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.