Human beings are innately creative. In fact, all of us do a myriad of creative things everyday. Despite this reality, many of us deny having this inherent ability and wistfully long to exercise it. Many presume that creativity is only manifested in artistic expression and breakthrough concepts, but we actually show it in any way we express ourselves. We are creative in the way we communicate, think things through, accomplish tasks, etc. Having said that, I admit to wishing I exercised my artistic capabilities more.
When I became a mother, something kicked in. I suppose this could be mostly due to my desire to expose my daughter to a more creative lifestyle, but perhaps it’s also because I found inspiration in my baby. In the past three years, I was able to explore a side of me that had been lying dormant for many years. I learned to eschew inhibitions and push limits when it came to my understanding of my own capabilities. Pablo Picasso said that we were all born artists, but not all of us were able to remain so as we grew up. For those of us who deviated from the artist’s path, I’ve found that we can find our way back. There’s hope for the artistes manqués. The following are just some ideas to tap into your fountain of creativity. There are more, of course, but these are the ones that work for me:
- Work on an art or craft project. Paint, collage, scrapbook, crochet, embroider… Create something simply for the fun of it. Naturally you’ll want the end product to be beautiful. You might actually achieve that, but don’t be frustrated if you don’t. You’ll learn that you get better the more you do something. The key is in starting. How can you improve if you don’t practice, right? Your initial work is rarely a masterpiece, but you still feel a sense of creative accomplishment at having produced something.
- Let music inspire you. Bach is supposedly great at sparking creativity, but any music will do. I find that French café music inspires me to paint while Celtic songs make me want to knit or crochet. When preparing dinner, I match my music with the menu. Music creates atmosphere and somehow adds to the fun of doing things.
- I know “notebook” is not a verb, but I’m going to use it as one. Notebook obsessively. Bring one everywhere. Document your feelings, the scenes you encounter, the ideas you come up with, the interesting remarks you hear… Free write for kicks, make lists, record dreams… Practice elegant penmanship, doodle, insert interesting found objects… Several pages into a notebook and you’ll realize that not only has the notebook become a source of ideas, memories, and inspiration; it in itself has become a creative product.
- Get up and get moving. Actual exercise is good. It gets your blood going and energizes you, but if you’re not in the mood for that, a walk is more than adequate. Taking a stroll will give you a change of atmosphere and a chance to clear your head. When you’re outside, stop and smell the roses. Observe. Let creativity be ignited by the things you sense.
- Read and appreciate great literature. Not only do you get in some relaxing entertainment and exercise for your imagination, you also find both information and inspiration in books. If you’re reading poetry, do it so aloud. Hear the beauty in the rhyme and cadence of the verses as they flow from your tongue.
- Spend some time in quiet. You can meditate if you want, but I find that just being quiet and feeling the silence around me allows for a more uninhibited flow of creative ideas. It’s the time to regroup and recharge. In my case, after the quiet usually comes a drive for constructive action.
- Let art, whatever form it may take, inspire you. Go to a museum or a gallery. Watch a concert or some live band at a bar. You can go to the theatre or simply watch street performers. Take in the energy from the live interaction and the artistry in the product of their efforts.
- Visit creative blogs. You’ll usually find ordinary people without any formal artistic training creating beautiful things. They usually post tutorials so you can try doing things yourself. These blogs also reinforce the fact that you can be artistic or crafty too. Many of these creative bloggers are actually able to earn some extra income from their hobbies.
- Break your routine. Doing this can result in discovering novel ways to do things. Have a spontaneous experience. Walk in the rain and enjoy it. Pull over your car to pause and watch the sunset. Spontaneity does away with careful evaluation, which usually causes us to block and filter.
- Having said that, I also recommend getting organized, but with plenty of room for flexibility. Make artistic activities part of your daily pattern. Have an art station where you can feel inspired to work and where most of the materials you need will be within arm’s length. With everything in place time and area-wise, the creative habit will be easier to carry out.
Just because we did not excel in art while growing up does not mean we cannot live an artistic lifestyle. There’s much pleasure and fulfillment derived from being able to express ourselves in a creative fashion. There’s an artist lurking within all of us. It’s certainly better to let the poor thing out sooner than later.