You want to be more creative? Then you're going to need to create space for it to grow. Creativity requires acts of quiet listening, exposure to new experiences, and the will to follow your curiosity.
This principle is a recurring theme and building block of The Artists Way at Work.
(This is number two in a series of four about this cornerstone of creative thinking. Read my review of the book here. Subscribe to Creative Juicer to get the rest of the series, or visit again next week.)
These are broken into three regular acts intended to create regular space in your life for creativity.
1. Daily Freewriting
One of the first things that happens when you start reading The Artist's Way at Work is you are assigned a daily freewriting exercise.
Morning pages. Three of them, hand-written, upon waking each morning, on standard ruled paper. I've written about the merits of freewriting to jumpstart a brainstorming session before, but this is different. Morning pages are just for you, on whatever comes to mind, without any censorship.
As I read about this, I met internal resistance. One more thing to do? I already commit my mornings to my creative writing ... was this really worth sacrificing some of that precious time?
But I had to admit, I believe in the thinking behind it: as The Artist's Way put it, morning pages a tool to help you to listen to the many different voices within you. It can unearth desires long set aside, feelings pushed down and ignored. As you begin to familiarize yourself with your many different facets, you gain self-understanding, clarity and, ultimately, start living more deliberately.
At first I hated it. But I quickly found a flow. And, remarkably, after morning pages, my creative writing flowed more easily, and my daily word counts went up. I felt more focused and centered at work. I was prioritizing my free time better.
So the morning pages stuck. It's an excellent tool to get your brain flowing.
2. Weekly Creative Dates
Next, it's creative dates. Artists' Way prescribes an hour a week, by yourself. This time is to be used to listen to yourself and to learn more about things that spark your curiosity.
One example in the book: a man who always had a love for antique rugs took himself on a date to rug shop, just to explore. He eventually bought one, and put it in his office. It completely changed the atmosphere in his space, and soon coworkers were stopping by just to enjoy the ambience for a minute or two. The dynamics at work, especially in his office, started to change, to become more open and creative.
All from one small hour spent exploring a thread of curiosity. You never know what unique ways your passions might touch those around you.
Find something, anything, you enjoy and take an hour this week to learn more about it.
This may all seem like self-nurturing, but here we mean specifically nurturing your mind with hobbies you enjoy, and your body with regular exercise.
Physical exercise, even a short walk, can give your brain a boost. Both the mind and the body work their best when they are regularly put to work and challenged.
So make time to engage in activity. Your creative dates can set you up well for this--start by exploring something you're curious about, and you may soon find yourself interesting in participating in some way. No matter what kind of activity you choose, you're bound to find yourself in a community of like-minded people. And after finding the time for creativity, nothing can foster long-term growth like a supportive community.
Yes, but ...
What's that you say? You're busy? Too busy to carve out time to waste time chasing something fun? I'm shocked.
Our culture makes it easy to be "too busy" for things. Especially things for ourselves. Somehow, it has become "normal" to while away hours holed up for a project for work. We are simply a culture of busy-ness. But that doesn't mean the things you choose to fill your time with are meaningful.
For example, I used to fold every load of laundry soon as it came out of the dryer. I used to fold underwear. I'm such a good housewife, I thought. But seriously, after a while, I was bored. Now I do laundry only once a week. All the loads go in a giant pile and is not folded until everything is dry. And I do not fold any underwear. I had more interesting things to do. So do you.
You are not too busy. You do need to reprioritize.