Nobody has ever told me that they wish they spent less time being creative. That’s not a thing. What is a thing is people struggling with their creativity. For many, that stems from a belief that they aren’t creative. We’re going to debunk that in a second. For others, inspiration can feel blocked by lack of motivation, lack of time, or stress. But creativity isn’t only for happy-go-lucky moments.
Right now is the perfect time to tap into your creativity. Many of us find ourselves at home way more than ever before. We have more time. (Think back to how many moments you’ve thought “If only I had more time, I would…”) Many of us also have more struggle, but creating things—anything—is vital not despite life being hard but because of it.
Like yoga is simple movement, but also deeper than just movement, creative activities bring more than what meets the eye. It’s soul work. As Brené Brown says, based upon her research of “wholehearted” living, “As long as we’re creating, we’re cultivating meaning.”
Science has shown us art of any kind does things like: lowering stress, activating the brain’s reward center, processing emotions, and boosting hopefulness. It connects us to others (helpful these days), brings about change, and beautifies the world.
Creativity 101: You’re In!
Every human is creative including you. It doesn’t always feel that way because we’ve tried to cram creativity in a box with strict parameters, like: if you can draw or sew or dance or sing, and do them well, and life is feeling good, then you can be creative.
But confining the concept of creativity into a small, finite definition is completely missing the point of imagination and originality.
Creativity is bringing something into existence. That’s it. It can be a cake, a basil plant, or a greeting card. It can sound like music or a rotary saw. It can look like a painting, but it can also look like a photo memory book, a restored vehicle, or knitted socks.
The creativity door is wide open for you. You just gotta step through.
Creativity’s Golden Rule: Don’t Concern Yourself with Greatness
Permission slip: You don’t have to be great.
Any creative pursuit is inherently mistake-prone. And never can a form of creativity be completely mastered. That doesn’t mean we can’t get better. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t practice or learn. We should—especially when we’ve discovered an art form we genuinely love.
But if you demand greatness of your creativity and fear sucking at it, you’re never going to do anything creative and your life will pass you by without much innovation or originality. Harsh, but true.
Your creative responsibility is ultimately to experiment and try, not to be great.
So, let’s begin. These ideas for tapping into creativity while spending more time at home apply to newbies dipping their toe in creative waters or for artists of any kind who find themselves in a rut.
1. Pop Your Bubble
One of the best ways to come up with original ideas is to expose yourself to a wide diversity of voices, ideas, and images. Go beyond what you’re already into. Otherwise, we can become imitative and uninspired.
Since you’re not vacationing or buzzing with extracurricular activities right now, utilize extra home time to:
- Diversify your bookshelf with authors who do not look like you and genres you’ve never explored
- Google recipes from different areas of the world to taste new flavor combinations
- Follow visual artists who work with different mediums on social media
- Watch YouTube tutorials to learn a new type of dance, a new gardening method, or a new visual art (flower pressing, encaustic painting, dog bed design)
2. Don’t Hustle Your Boredom Away
It is vital to consume other creative content to expand your mind; it is also important to save space for your own thoughts. If we fill every second with other people’s ideas—books, movies, podcasts, music, Instagram feeds, etc.—we won’t have time to let boredom work its magic.
Stillness and quiet are hard; everybody who’s meditated or tried yin yoga knows that. Just as much we need those things for our mental wellbeing, we also need them for creativity. In her book The Artist’s Muse, Betsy Dillard Stroud discusses how creativity springs up from idleness, “from reverie and daydreaming.”
Take advantage of your stuck-at-home boredom … and stay bored. Put your phone down. See what pops up while you stare at the ceiling.
3. Make Creativity More Accessible
Sometimes I want to do something, but I don’t. Isn’t that ridiculous? Often, it’s because I convinced myself it was too much work to get started. I don’t like this about myself, but it happens, and I bet it happens to you.
During the beginning of COVID-19 quarantine, writer Elizabeth Gilbert told her Instagram followers that she transformed her kitchen table into a painting desk, with paints and fresh canvas out at all times, available whenever the artsy feeling came around.
Copy that idea. Transform your home into your creative playground. Whatever you want to do, have it out and ready to go.
4. The Box Has Been Smashed; Go with It
If you struggle to “step outside of the box” and express your creativity, I have great news! The box has been smashed. Anything you thought this year would look like is no longer the reality, so you can find ways to be creative in countless areas of your life.
Much of creative expression is simply resourcefulness, and we have opportunity aplenty:
- Find household objects to create an indoor gym or backyard obstacle course
- Come up with a new card game—the wilder the rules, the better
- Make old school salt dough like you did when you were a kid
- Always wanted to learn how to sew? One word: masks!
5. Commit to Creative Living
One of the interesting oxymorons about creativity is that it requires consistent hard work and a spirit of play and whimsy. Art is a science and pure magic intertwined. That’s why committing to a daily practice—even if the time is short—is essential.
Because my husband is a full-time oil painter, I know a lot of oil painters. I used to think they were all touched by the art gods with out-of-this world talent (maybe a little true), but mostly what I’ve seen is this: they get up each day and do it. Not every painting turns out great (insider secret: some artists have bonfire parties to trash bad work!), but no matter what, they get paint on the canvas.
Whether you are a long-time, dedicated artist or somebody just trying to incorporate a little more creativity into your everyday life, you will need to strike a balance between stubborn commitment and playful flow.
Kind of like your yoga practice.