When you think of being creative do you start to feel a little freer? Or do you quickly freeze up with frustration or self-doubt?
I would like to help you to loosen up with a few practical ideas from people who know a few things about what creativity really is.
Let’s start with Sir Paul McCartney. He is well-known for his relaxed approach to writing songs. For instance, he frequently comes into the studio with a vague idea for a song. Then, by collaborating with others, he sees if anything worthwhile might emerge.
For Paul McCartney, creativity is not always about the end result. The creative process can also produce important benefits, as he explained in a story he told on the Beatles channel:
“Playing the guitar or piano is a good thing to help you work out your troubles. When you get in a down mood or in a dark place I just go somewhere and start playing. At first, it is almost like I am telling my troubles to my guitar. Sometimes when I keep playing, some ideas may develop – maybe even a song. And then I start working on that. Then I feel even better because now something good is happening. I am starting to make something, and I feel a little creative.”
Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
But, possibly, the most important.
To get started, you need some time and space that you can call your own. It doesn’t have to be much to start, just a little area devoid of other distractions.
And then you want to start getting busy. As Madeleine L’Engle the award-winning writer and poet says, “Inspiration usually comes during work, rather than before it.”
Some people are hesitant to start because they are waiting for some good ideas to pop into their heads. Seth Godin, a well-known author, suggests that doing anything, even if it is bad, is the best way to get to the good stuff. Even moving in the wrong direction is better than not moving at all.
Brené Brown has an answer for this form of self-doubt and avoidance.
She says, “There is no such thing as creative people and non-creative people. There are just people who use their creativity and people who don’t” (as quoted by Chase Jarvis in Creative Calling).
Yes, some people are very good at traditional forms of drawing, painting or writing. But that shouldn’t stop you from doing things your own way. For example, some people who can only draw stick figures have enjoyed creating collages. Pinterest is full of great examples.
Even the most talented people need stimulation to spark the fires of their creativity. New ideas can come from trial and error, making mistakes, or by copying from others and adding your own twist.
For some people, creating comes more easily and feels more fulfilling when done with supportive others. You can give each other ideas and suggestions or good-heartedly make fun of each other. Laughter can go a long way. The secret to making this work is an atmosphere of non-judgment.
There’s a delightful story by Chris Colin in the New York Times series entitled, It’s Never Too Late. It’s about Russell Ellis who discovered his muse at age 85, in a most unexpected way.
One day, Mr. Ellis was introduced to a friend of his housekeeper’s. He didn’t ask her name and later felt upset at his disrespect for her.
He wanted to make amends. So, he learned her name, Eliza, and promised to sing it to her next time she came by.
Then, according to Mr. Ellis, something strange shook loose in him.
“A song walked right in. Eliiiiiza. Eliiiiiiiiiza. And then the urge kept coming.”
Then, with the help of some musician friends, he kept on creating over the following year. He ended up recording his first ever album, Songs from My Garden, consisting of 11 original songs.
He’d always been a laborer, but during this year, he felt a creative abandon he’d never known before.
For people feeling stuck in their life, Mr. Ellis recommends doing something that involves other people. Even if you are doing it for one other person.
A generous spirit can be a powerful source of energy and motivation.
What is holding your creativity back? Does the word creativity conjure some resistance in you? You can always work on a new project and not tell anyone about it. Or you can shout your ideas from a mountain top. Are you ready to start creating the life you want?