Hello, everyone! As you all know, I’ve been trying to get back into the flow of writing and drawing. After several years at college and feeling like I had no time to do the things I love (which is sad and you should choose something that you at least tolerate, I’ll probably write something on that topic later), I now have some time. Not a lot, but I’m trying to utilize it as much as I can. These are the things that have really helped me thus far and I wanted to share them with you. I hope you enjoy my top three ideas for creativity.
Create with a partner
For many of the “creative types”, this sounds like the worst tip ever. Many of us are very guarded with our work. We may love to show it to other people and we appreciate the help of editors, critics, or teachers, but sharing the credit or sharing the idea making process? Nope. Nah. Negative. No. No. NO! I’m with ya there, I love having creative control. No one should ever put me in charge of a decorating committee at any sort of function because I will micromanage like nobody has ever micromanaged before.
But creating with a partner does not have to be annoying, scary, or even a big deal. It’s just another way to be inspired. Of course, without stealing their ideas, you can perhaps leave a session with something even better than what you were planning.
For example, my husband composes music, and I write stories. To get our “creative flows” going, we lean on each other’s strengths to make something even better. We do each “round” of creativity for 15 minutes per person and we take turns going first. He’ll write a song and I’ll write a passage about the song, and then we’ll switch off. I’ll write and he’ll compose a song about the passage.
Of course, with such a small time frame, we’re not going to produce amazing rainbow butterflies that will go off into the world and stop world hunger. No. It’s rough, somewhat crappy stuff. But at least we have something now. We can scrap it, or find the diamonds in the rough.
Create far, far, FAR outside of your comfort zone
I’m sure you’ve seen those online pictures that show a circle that is labeled “Your comfort zone” and then an arrow pointing to a point away from the circle labeled “Where the magic happens”. These are not just cheesy and sometimes poorly drawn pictures, they illustrate a true value of life.
Do you remember your first trip away from home where your parents were not present?
Perhaps you were very young and leaving for a school trip. Maybe you were being sent to visit a family member. Maybe it wasn’t until you left your home for college that you ever experienced the discomfort of being away from family.
Perhaps something more dramatic happened in your life, positive or negative. A death in the family. Divorce. Abuse. Addiction. Loss of home or self.
All of these prods or pushes you out of your comfort zone changed you, for better or for worse. You adapted, you learned, you grew, and you became something different. Of course, how we react to situations is what builds our character; our reactions shape what we will truly be for the next few moments before more adjustments occur. We always hope, that for the most part, we react in a positive manner.
Creativity depends on change. It depends on our flexibility. Whether or not you enjoy the music of The Beatles, you have to acknowledge the fact that they are one of the most famous and successful bands to date. As of 2016, they still hold the record for the most number-one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. (http://www.billboard.com/artist/383540/beatles/chart?f=379). Rolling Stone said “No band has influenced pop culture the way the Beatles have. They were one of the best things to happen in the twentieth century, let alone the Sixties” (http://www.rollingstone.com/music/artists/the-beatles/biography). Part of why they were so popular was because they were willing to change and to explore outside of their comfort zones. They started in rock & roll but then utilized pop, a little R&B, and psychedelic sounds and rhythms into their own craft.
Do you usually write high fantasy? Do you compose classical music? Take some time to explore other genres and to create within those genres. That’s not to say you have to abandon your one true love of J.R.R. Tolkien or Mozart, but instead of copying them, observe something different. Make something from your explorations. You could even abandon your craft as well. Instead of composing, take a painting class. As I said, you don’t have to disregard what you love for long, but making that time to be uncomfortable is going to benefit you much more than doing the same thing over and over again.
“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”
Create. Every. Freaking. Day.
This I think, is the most understood part of creating. Things won’t always just flow. Sometimes, you’re going to have to burrow through some stones and pebbles before you can get to the good soil. It’s not always going to be fun and it’s not always going to be rewarding. Sometimes there will be long nights, sometimes there will be crappy projects that you turn out. But each of these things helps us to get better. Don’t give up, just keep trying.
However, even though I may sound like I’m going against myself, creativity doesn’t always have to be hard and terrible. I’ve gone through several bouts of writer’s block and I know from experience that just trying to muscle through it isn’t always the best thing. If I try to push too hard, I’ll find myself resenting my writing and resenting myself. Sometimes I try to wring out words as though I was wringing out a rag. There is only so much you can wring out of a rag before it’s dry or before it tears.
Instead, of straining myself, I go at things from a different angle. I might not write things from the main story, but perhaps I’ll focus on a side character’s profile, or just write 200 words describing a scene. Taking the pressure off and allowing things to settle and simmer for a while is what is going to help you continue to create in the long run as opposed to burning out.
Maybe even stepping away from your project altogether might be a good idea, but while “creating” something else. Perhaps take some photographs while you walk outside, experiment with that recipe you found on Pinterest, or listen to some music and do a little doodle. Whatever you do, keep those juices flowing.
Well, those are my 3 Ideas for Creativity. Now I’m off to try to re-outline my novel . . . again. Wish me luck!
(Originally published on TheMiniMeditatingDragon.blogspot.com 10/19/16)