I blog, in part, because I believe in creativity. Humans are enormously gifted and the creative potential of any given individual should amaze us. Sadly, many of us, for either lack of time, inspiration, or courage, simply float from day to day, ignoring our own incredible potential and simply neglecting the creative gifts with which we are endowed. So here are some action steps you can begin to take today to tap into your creative potential.
1. Surround yourself with creative people.
One of the most frightening things in the world is the negative opinions of other people. On the other hand, the encouragement and examples of others can also inspire us to do things that we never thought possible. Surround yourself with people who are creative, who are doing creative work, and who encourage you to do the same.
Does this mean that you can only be friends with starving musicians? No. Creativity can be found in the offices of CEOs, of politicians, of small business owners, of medical professionals, and of freelancers. Creativity is an attitude towards life. Find people that inspire you to live better and befriend and learn from them.
Journaling is a wonderful discipline and creative practice. Committing to daily or weekly journaling doesn’t mean that you have to spend hours each day pouring your soul out on a piece of paper in the privacy of a closet. Journaling simply means that you assess your current position, goals, and actions and continue to reevaluate, learn from past mistakes, and set new goals as time goes on.
Journaling can be wonderfully inspiration: there is nothing quite as inspiring as knowing that you are more productive, closer to your dreams, or more mature than you were a year or five years ago. In my journal, I often collect quotes, lines from sermons, and even memorable scraps like pictures and pressed flowers. Your journal can be big and bulky or a simple notepad. You can journal every day or once a week. The point is to do it.
3. Take pictures.
I wrote another post on why taking pictures is important. Taking pictures helps you to remember past events, people, and places and inspires you to be creative and to try new things.
4. Read writing by creative people.
Read good writing. Try novels, editorials, classics, epic poetry, travel memoirs, and biographies. Read about what other people have done, by people who are writing well, and inspiration can’t help but follow. Personally, right now I’m so inspired by the amazing collections of cooking memoirs. Amateur cooks and successful chefs are creative artists and I love reading about their processes, motivation, failures, successes, and perspective.
The Internet allows all of us to tap into the genius of incredible creatives. I read a variety of blogs by inspiring creatives every day. Bloggers like A Beautiful Mess, Seth Godin, and Freelance Folder inspire me to become more creative, more productive, and more courageous.
5. Sleep well.
I always talk about the importance of sleep. Regular, restful sleep is absolutely imperative if you are going to be at your best, healthiest, and most creative. Do you need to develop discipline and learn to get up with your alarm? Sure. Maybe you need to set some goals and learn to go to bed and wake up earlier. But make sure you’re getting a real 7-8 hours of sleep every night (or whatever you need to be at your best). If you aren’t rested, your body goes into survival mode. It’s hard to create when you are tired and sick.
6. Eat well.
This is along the lines of #5. It’s hard to be creative, disciplined, efficient, and courageous when you’re hungry or full of junk food. Learn to eat well. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Make yourself a smoothie for breakfast. Make sure you’re eating nutritious food regularly. Drink a lot of water. To be at your best, you need to provide your body with good food.
Cooking is like photography – it’s incredibly inspirational and a great creative practice. Learn to cook. Experiment with different sauces, marinades, and dishes. Stop using your microwave and start using that big thing in your kitchen called the stove. Incredible creativity can be cultivated in the kitchen. Added bonus? Cooking for people will allow you a medium for good conversations about creativity.
8. Be creative about your home.
Try to cultivate creativity in your home by decorating, painting, rearranging, and coming up with creative solutions to storage dilemmas. Your home is one gigantic (or one tiny) palette for your creativity. Use colors and light to make your home a creative, fun, inspirational place to spend time. Explore estate sales and Craigslist and learn to furnish your home creatively. Practice those creative muscles on everything you see every day.
It’s hard to find time for silence between the phone, the computer, your Ipod, traffic, the radio, the television . . . force yourself to turn off all of those mediums for a few minutes every day. Read in silence or just relax as you sip your coffee and reflect for a few minutes. Inspiration will grow out of those minutes of calm that would have drowned in the static of the day otherwise.
10. Find your sweet spot during the day.
For some people, it’s late at night. For me, it’s early in the morning until about 9:30 a.m. Your sweet spot is that period of time where you can work without stopping, where time flies, where your creativity sparks furiously. After that period of time, you’ll need discipline and lists, and goals to make you productive and efficient. Figure out where your creative sweet spot is on the clock. Protect it. Then make the most of it.
This list is just the beginning. The world if full of such inspiration and so much room for creativity. What are steps you take every to make space and time for creative inspiration?