7 Ways To Refill Your Creative Well
Guest Post by Icy from www.icysedgwick.com
Creativity can be an important part of your self-care routine. It could mean making time for a creative pursuit like knitting (great for hand-eye coordination) or playing a musical instrument. It’s a wonderful way to express yourself and it can even stand you in good stead in your job.
Creative employees solve problems faster, and with more ingenuity, than bored employees. According to the Guardian, employees in environments that support creativity are 8x more dedicated and 3.5x more innovative.
But creativity is a resource that’s easily depleted. Stress and anxiety can rob you of your creative side. And that can make your feelings worse if you’re used to playing with your imagination. You might even feel guilty for setting time aside to be creative when you have other things to do. It’s absolutely essentially to your self-care. And if you’re a creative entrepreneur, it’s vital to your business.
So here are 7 ways you can refill your creative well.
1. Colour outside the lines
Sometimes you can get so hung up on following the rules, or sticking to a formula you’ve been given, that you lose sight of your original quest. I’ve even done this with self-care routines. I see suggested activities as things I need to rigorously plan and check off once I’ve done them. They become a formula to follow, rather than a pleasure to enjoy. The moment it becomes rote, it loses its appeal. Don’t let your creativity suffer in the same way.
Colour outside of the lines and create yourself a new art movement* (* feel free to create whatever you want. That’s the point, yeah?). Let yourself do something you’ve never tried before. Discover the power of the words “What if…?”
2. Go looking in unusual places
If you look in obvious places, then you’ll have obvious ideas? True, you might see something obvious in an unusual way. But why not look in less obvious places? The best creative ideas can spring from the weirdest scenarios. So don’t be afraid to go looking for ideas where you wouldn’t expect to find them.
So visit a museum on a subject you’ve never studied. Pick up unlikely magazines at your local store. Or just take a different route to work. You’ll find inspiration for all sorts of creative projects, from decorating your office to prompts for your journal.
3. People Watch
People are a goldmine of inspiration. If you want to have creative ideas, then you’d be surprised how many you get by observing others.
Take the train instead of driving. Take half an hour to have coffee in a busy cafe. Talk to the waitress. Listen to people browsing in stores. Make a note of any snippets you overhear. Pay attention to how people dress. Could that interesting pattern on a scarf or bag inspire a knitting project? Or could you sketch the man poring over the newspaper?
Surrounding yourself with new people is also a good way to combat loneliness. It’s easy to feel isolated if you’re the only creative one among your friends. But it’s amazing how many people will strike up a conversation if they see you doing something creative in public.
4. Capture everything
You don’t want to be one of those people who spends more time taking photos than being present in an experience. But you’ll never remember everything that you see. So be curious about the world around you and capture everything. A cool chalk sign outside a retro store. Or a funky font on a poster. Maybe you photograph store displays to inspire your room layouts at home.
Whatever you photograph, make a habit of revisiting your photos. Maybe set aside time every week to review your images. Flick through your camera roll. Remind yourself what you’ve seen
And be sure to share your images with others. Check theirs out too – commenting is a great way to make new online friends. Immerse yourself in different ways of seeing the world. You never know when your Instagram feed might spark an idea.
5. Be cultured
As much as you want to go looking for ideas in unusual places, don’t be afraid to seek them out in traditional places. Museums and art galleries are an absolute treasure trove of ideas and inspiration. They’re also a great place to meet like-minded people.
Many of them offer free guided tours of their exhibitions or collections. So spend time learning about the exhibits. Find out about the working processes of artists. How did they solve creative problems? Try them out for yourself on your current project. Let their genius be your guide.
6. Gorge yourself
I’m not telling you to go and eat a whole packet of M&S Yum Yums, though quite frankly who could blame you if you did? But forget about moderation. Find something that interests you, and learn everything you can about it. Immerse yourself in it. Join Twitter chats about it or borrow books from your local library.
Your brain will be working through it all even while you sleep. You’ll start making connections between your new passion and your existing hobbies. Creativity and curiosity are never far apart.
Then find a new obsession and learn all you can about that. According to Norman Doidge in The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science, this is also a great way to keep your brain healthy.
7. Challenge the norm
Just because something has always been done this way doesn’t mean it should always be done this way. It’s understandable why you might try to follow instructions. Fear can often keep you from experimenting with processes or techniques. But fear is the mortal enemy of creativity.
So take a look at your creative pursuits. Can you think of a better way to do something? Is it quicker? More practical? Cheaper? Hell, is it more fun? That’s creative thinking right there. Toss out the rule book and challenge the status quo.
Try each one of these suggestions. Or just stick to one and make it part of your self-care routine. Perhaps you’ll mix and match! It’s your creativity so it’s up to you. Now get out there and play!
Confident Life Contributor
Icy Sedgwick is a writer and blogger, based in the north east of England. She writes dark fantasy and Gothic horror, and was once described as ‘JK Rowling meets Tim Burton’. You can find her fiction at www.icysedgwick.com, and follow her on Twitter @IcySedgwick.