It’s a crazy week around here so I wanted to bring you some expert advice on creativity. Huge thanks to Michelle Hamelin of MichelleHamelin.ca for this article!
This was me, just the other day:
I am unclear as to what I want. It is like trying to get the fog off a bathroom mirror. The more desperate I am about wiping off the fog, the bigger mess I make. The reality is that the mirror will defog itself if I leave it in peace.
Have you ever felt like that? You are trying to be creative and innovative and unique and you see what everyone else is doing. Then you try to force yourself to be even more creative and you end up spinning around in circles and possibly wrecking that which you have already created? I know a little bit about that feeling. It happens to me from time to time.
There are two types of creativity: artistic and conceptual. Artistic creativity is what you think it is: food, art, music, dance, theatre, jewellery, crafts, writing. The wonderful thing about it is that it doesn’t have to be relevant to anyone else. You can create for yourself. Conceptual creativity is solving problems, filling a need, and is usually goal-oriented. As a writer, you might fall into both categories. Maybe you are writing your story of growing up in an alcoholic household with the artistic aim of getting it out of yourself and the conceptual aim of helping someone who has gone through the same thing.
What do you do when you are stuck? The ideas aren’t flowing. You have misplaced your motivation. That unwanted guest called perfectionism has reared its ugly head. Here are some of my favorite ideas to get myself kick-started:4 tips for #creativity from @MichelleHamelin Click To Tweet
Morning Pages: This is right out of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. In its easiest form, you grab some paper (whatever is handy: spiral bound notebook, refill paper, leather bound journal) and a pen and write out three full pages of long hand stream of consciousness. Do it first thing in the morning. It helps get the clutter out of your mind.
Change Your Environment: Sometimes when you are feeling stuck, you need to change where you are. When I am writing, I alternate between the quiet of my desk, the cacophony of my local coffee shop (lovingly called my branch office), and somewhere out in nature, like a park bench. I do my some of my best writing at the coffee shop. Others must be the same since there are ambient noise simulators that include a coffee shop selection.
Go Through Your Idea Book / File: This means going back to your notes, wherever they are kept. Maybe you have a notebook that you carry around in case inspiration hits. Or you keep a file with a selection of thought-provoking articles. Or you have a Pinterest account. Or… you have an app on your phone. On my phone, I use a voice memo app and a notes app. Whichever mechanism you use, if you are feeling blocked, now is the time to go back and review those pieces of brilliance you have stored away.
Do Something Else Creative or Take a Shower: Do you find that you get inspiration while you are washing your hair? I get some of my best ideas when I am not working on my ‘stuff’. I could be gardening or planning out a quilt and BAM: my subconscious hits me with a zinger.
Those are my main ways to boost my creativity. There are many others, like creating a ritual, visualization, mind-mapping, or even learning something new. I’ll leave you to explore those ideas. Who knows? They may trigger a new idea for you and you’ll be back to the creativity races once again!
Michelle Hamelin, MBA, is a business and accountability coach, working with individuals who are motivated to focus, get things done, and achieve their goals. She is also a fan of the Oxford comma.
You can find Michelle’s favourite tool, My Daily Get It Done List, here:
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