Creativity is romanticised, isn’t it?
We long to be creative, inspired people but we’re stuck in our day to day with no time to create.
But when we do have time to create we feel stuck. We face a mental block as if our pools of inspiration have all but dried up.
That could be for a number of factors. A niggling anxiety at the back of your mind, exhaustion from a night of bad sleep, or the comparison trap where whatever you create isn’t as good as what insert name here does.
How can we strike a balance between being creative and being consistent?
Perhaps you use some of your creativity in your job. Writing content or designing graphics.
Maybe you use your creativity after work or on the weekends where you get to paint or craft sculptures out of clay.
Or maybe it’s as simple as reading a book and being transported into a section of your imagination where you can live out this fictional reality.
Whatever your definition of creativity may be, the hard truth is that it will take practice.
The more that you wait for inspiration the less chance you have of creating amazing work. It’s better to create something that you see as crap than to not create at all. Because one piece of crap could turn into an idea or spark for something great.
Which is where consistency comes in.
Perhaps you set aside a few minutes a day to do something creative. Something that challenges your creative side and inspires you to keep thinking up unique and interesting ideas.
Remember the self-care calendar from last week’s note? You could repurpose that (look at me go with my repurposing shtick) into a habit or creativity tracker to mark off when you’ve taken that time to nurture your creativity.
I do, however, have an idea as to how you can kickstart your dormant creativity.
Yes, here I go again: The Jar Concept.
I did a blog post about it a few years ago but I feel like it need revisiting as it can be a powerful tool to help you on your way to practicing creativity.
Now, I was always told that practice DOES NOT make perfect but it does make improvement. And these days I feel like even a small step forward is an incredible achievement.
With so many devastating events going on in the world (with what feels like 100 new ones popping up each day) it’s important to remain kind to yourself.
So what if you didn’t do what you hoped today? You got through today and in my opinion that’s all that matters. Our productivity and energy levels are not the same every single day and it’s important to keep that in mind when you’re going about your day.
But I digress.
The Jar Concept!
This is a little something that I thought of almost a decade ago (yikes) to help me be a little more motivated in my teenage years. The idea was to practice my creativity and try to improve so that one day when I study graphic design (I didn’t but there’s still hope!) I will have some skills to utilise.
It was as simple as coming up with a few activities, writing them on small pieces of bright colourful paper, and popping them into an old honey jar.
The idea is that when I feel like I’m stuck or need a little push forward, I can draw out a task from the jar and get creating.
It was silly things at that time such as create a logo for a band as that was a similar question to an application for a tertiary institution I was eyeing.
Depending on your niche or interests, write down a list of 5-10 activities that you could do to hone your craft – or even explore new avenues. I like to duplicate some of the activities as you may have a fresh perspective to explore the second time round.
When you’re feeling stuck, simply draw out a slip of folded up paper and follow the instructions that past you set out for future (and now present) you.
Remember to set the space.
If you’re writing a short story or designing a mock logo, make sure that your surroundings are conducive to that.
Maybe you like to have a clean desk (even if that means just shoving everything into a drawer for an hour) or soft music playing. Set up your space to help you stay accountable to your commitment.
Give yourself a time limit too. I know from experience that I can overthink a brief for hours but if you give yourself 10-15 minutes you’re forced to make a quick decision. With any luck, after those 10-15 minutes you’ll be in a state of flow to keep going. If not – that’s fine too. Perhaps the next time you do it you’ll start to feel your inspiration creep back in.
I’ve put together a few little ideas that you can print out if you need a place to start. If you need any ideas for a different niche, please let me know in the comments and I’ll update the list.
As a little refresh, to get started on the Jar Concept you’ll need to:
- Write down (or print from the above lists) 5-10 activities.
- Pop them in a jar and place that somewhere you’ll see it (no out of sight out of mind here please)
- When you’re feeling stuck, take out a piece of paper and read your “brief”
- Set up your space to one that will help you focus on this task at hand
- Set a timer and get going!
There you go. Five simple steps to follow to help you start practicing your creativity.
Another little tip – although it may be slightly cheesy – is to print out a few little positive quotes or affirmations to pop into a different jar. If you’re feeling a little low or discouraged, pull out a quote and read it.
Keep that positivity with you to keep on keeping on.
A quote I really resonate with is from Seth Godin:
“There’s no such thing as writer’s block. There’s simply a fear of bad writing. Do enough bad writing and some good writing is bound to show up.”
That’s pretty much the premise of this Editor’s Note. It can be tempting to give up before you start for fear of not being good enough. But the more you make mistakes and stuff up (consistently), the greater chance you have of creating something amazing.
Take care and keep creating!