The truth of the matter, one that has been explored by a number of creativity experts, is that creativity needs to be actively nourished. In doing so, it can become more reliable and certainly more powerful.
Nourishing Your Creativity
To nourish, as with our bodies, there is a need to replenish constantly. If we imagine our creative potential to be like water, we need to frame ourselves as a fountain rather than a leaking tap. The mantra? Creativity in and creativity out. Just as you wouldn’t embark on a marathon without eating the right food, your creativity needs to be fed in the right way.
You can whet your creative appetite in many different ways.
It may be taking up ballroom dancing; taking a new route to work; wearing a different tie or a different shade of lipstick; listening to a new CD or genre; renting a foreign film that strikes you; rearranging your furniture. The good news is that it can be whatever you darn please.
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the bestseller Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, says, “Do whatever brings you to life… Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.” She rightly echoes the fact that what nourishes you, “brings you to life.” Each creative whim that you act out becomes another building block to healthy creative flow.
What will you gain from these new creative endeavours?
You may start to solve problems differently, book a different holiday destination or sleep better. You may find that your creativity is less jolted, stymied, or nowhere to be found. The level that this will affect you will depend on how much you rely on creativity in your day to day lives and profession. What is clear to me is that the more that we nourish our creativity, the more it will nourish us back in return.
We use our mind so much in everyday life, and being more creative allows those overworked parts of our brain to breathe a sigh of relief and relax, allowing them to repair and replenish. I have often had students of my art classes report that they have felt a calming contentedness for days after a class; they have become more unlocked and unblocked, back in the flow.
As an artist, I deal with the paradox of demanding creativity. This is demanding in two senses. Firstly, I demand creativity to bring results for me professionally and thus have a lot riding on whether or not it shows up. Secondly, that creativity is demanding of me, using me to act out its whims, requiring me to show up. It’s a complex relationship to understand, and so I highly recommend picking up a copy of Big Magic if your professional vision is tied to creativity.
For those who want to nourish their creative general-health, I would suggest sitting down with some paper and a writing implement. You may want to try a pen that’s a little wilder than your usual ballpoint. Perhaps you could use a felt pen, crayon or your teenager's metallic gel pens. Take a few deep breaths, stretch, light a candle, and then start to write down the things that you like doing. Keep adding to the list until you start putting down things that you have never done before. Some may surprise you. Then make it your creative business to start ticking some of those things off. Keep it in a secluded private spot or loudly on the fridge in front of curious spouses/children/friends.
Gilbert poetically states that, “The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”
The more you nourish your creative process, the brighter these jewels will shine.
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