Sometimes, creativity is a choice. You miraculously have the afternoon free to take on your creative project, be it writing, painting, crafts or whatever else lets you be expressive.
Sometimes, creativity is not a choice. You have more days than not in your career where a creative solution from you is needed either minutes before the end of the day or at a high-peak, high-stress moment.
That’s why I wrote this blog post.
Perhaps you’re reading because you want to be creative during the one hour each day that you have time for your creative project, but it’s not your ideal power hour. Perhaps you’re reading because your job begs for your creativity on assignments that do not spark your interest.
You’re here because you’re ready to change. And if you’re not, you’ll soon realize that you’ll need to change to make creativity happen on command.
You’re thinking about creativity the wrong way.
We think that creativity is something we can take out and put away like a toy. It’s time to be creative now. It’s time to put your creativity away.
That’s not how creativity works.
Creativity is a muscle that needs to be continually in motion for it to be ready for use when you need it most. If you keep storing it away in the figurative closet of your mind, you are less likely to find it easily amongst the other clutter you store there.
Enough analogies? I thought so.
We approach the process of creativity all wrong. If you desire to be creative on command, then you must make creativity a lifestyle choice, not a moment’s choice.
We let the clutter of our lives take over our creativity until it’s so hard to find that we don’t seek to find it anymore.
It’s time to clean house.
Choose the Right Fuel for Your Creativity
Year ago, back when I was in grad school earning my MFA in Fiction Writing, I decided it was time to reassess my diet. I wasn’t gorging on junk food on the daily and back then I still had an impressive metabolism. Yet I knew something wasn’t right with my diet.
For years, I felt funny after I ate. I had brain fog. I felt gross and sluggish. It was a struggle to concentrate until it was time to think about eating again.
I didn’t have time to deal with this in grad school. I was on a strict timeline to meet an impossible graduation goal of three years and I couldn’t tolerate any hiccups. Especially when I was thrown the curveball of rewriting my entire 200-page thesis in two months.
So I tested out different food lifestyles each week, assessing how each diet plan made me feel. When I tried the vegetarian lifestyle, I never knew I could feel this healthy. I was sleeping more soundly at night. I had more energy during the day, energy I needed to keep my creative writing going. And brain fog was a thing of the past.
(They say you can’t go “cold turkey” on switching to a new diet. But when I found the right food lifestyle that matched what I needed, it was a crave-less easy choice.)
I recommend seeking out the right food lifestyle for you. I say “food lifestyle” because “diet” puts us in the wrong mindset of thinking we need a quick fix. What you eat impacts who you are and what you do every single day.
Creativity can’t thrive on junk food. When you eat junk, you feel like junk, then you act like junk.
Choose food that lets your creativity shine and makes you feel whole. By choosing the foods your body needs, you’ll find that creativity quickly becomes an easy choice.
Take the Right Steps Towards Your Creativity
During the workweek, I am awake and out the door in my running shoes by 6AM (at the very latest). I give myself 45 minutes to run around town and sort out my thoughts.
While it’s sometimes hard to roll out of bed or take the first running stride, I am always content that I made that choice. Why? Because even though I’m physically tired, my mind is warmed up for the day and ready to be creative.
You cage your creativity by choosing to be a couch potato. So choose not to be.
Exercise helps your thoughts align with your body, so choose a physical activity that lets you express yourself. I choose running because I have found it to be the most gratifying. Choose what’s best for you.
In the Name of Creativity, Show Yourself Some Love
This is where I struggle the most. From family to colleagues, it’s an ongoing joke for everyone that I excel at over-restricting enjoyment out of my life.
In fact, I have a co-worker that reminds me every Friday to do something fun on the weekend.
Creativity can’t spark if you’re always focused on your to-do list. You need to engage in some self-care activities.
When it’s cold outside, I enjoy taking a bubble bath on the weekend. When it’s warm outside, I enjoy sitting on my patio reading a good book. I’m also considering pampering myself with a foot massager.
When you feel awesome, you feel ready to take on anything, including chances to be creative.
Start Your Day the Creative Way
During the work week, I begin my day with a morning run, a scenic drive to work while playing classical music and pouring myself a cup of coffee before sitting down at my desk. I arrive thirty minutes before the usual early crowd so that I can warm up my brain with a creative task of my choice while listening to a spiritual video. That way, I feel fulfilled to be creative on command for other interdepartmental requests once the rest of the team arrives and the usual morning conversation picks up.
On Saturday morning—the best moment of the week—I wake up to the rising sun, stream some smooth jazz music, brew myself a mug of oolong tea and start writing next week’s blog post.
When you begin your day by coaxing your creativity with a healthy routine, chances are you’ll continue to be creative throughout the day.