Cultivating Creativity

As a member of the Minnesota Christian Writers Guild (MCWG), I enjoy attending the organization’s monthly meetings for inspiration and accountability in my writing practice. However, more often than not, the subject matter applies to all of my creative endeavors. The most recent meeting was no different.

Michelle Rayburn, a published author and accomplished editor from Wisconsin, presented our group with “50 Ways to Cultivate Creativity.” About a dozen of those ideas applied to how “to handle a momentary lapse of creativity;” the rest dealt with “cultivating a lifestyle of creativity.” Rayburn encouraged us to record the ideas that resonated most with us; I ended up with nine that I hope—no, that I plan—to implement:

Idea 1: Create an atmosphere that inspires me.
Private. Bright. Functional. Orderly. These are a few of the qualities that make a space more inviting, comfortable and creativity-inducing for me. My husband and I talked this past summer about creating a space for art and writing, but were devising plans for our basement. After further contemplation, we agreed that the space needs to be upstairs with more natural light, less clutter, etc. The guest room it is! As a first step in the room’s transformation, we’re in the market for a murphy bed to help free up that space.

Idea 2: Switch between projects.
This seems like a no brainer: If I get frustrated or altogether stuck, work on something else. I’m never short of project ideas, so I hope to fight the hesitation to begin another one when the first is only half done. Guilt, be gone!

Idea 3: Have someone hold me to a deadline.
As a writer by trade, I know the power of a deadline, but it’s time to start applying the concept to other aspirations. For example, I’d love to have an entire book written over the next three years. It seems totally doable, but I know that some personal accountability is in order to help me through the paces. It might be time to return to a critique group, which in years past, compelled me to always have new material ready for each meeting.

Idea 4: Develop a creativity ritual.
I’m a morning person by nature, I know that for sure, but I’d love to get even more in tune with when I’m especially creative during the day and capitalize on that rhythm. The trick? Carving that time out on my calendar and making a standing appointment with myself to write, paint, and create in all sorts of different ways.

Idea 5: Practice spiritual discipline.
I am committed to growing in my faith every day and in all areas of life, but I’m yet to land on a routine that I stick to every day and in all areas of life. Of course, getting too legalistic about it will do me no good, but being very intentional about how I relate with the God I love and follow should be my top priority. I believe that relationship should, does, and will guide all I do, including writing and the making of art.

Idea 6: Get away for artist’s retreats on a regular basis.
I simply don’t “get” the folks who are totally void of creative ideas—my problem is exactly the opposite: sooooo many. Some dedicated time away to work on my growing list seems like a good way to make some progress on it.

Idea 7: Accrue vacation time.
In my day job, I’m a freelance writer. That means no PTO. Sure, I’ve taken days off and travelled here and there, but I’ve never thought about compensating myself through my own vacation time program of sorts. It’s time!

Idea 8: Remember that what I love or what I want to do is not a reward for doing what I don’t like to do.
This is indeed a creativity-robbing mindset for me, to think all the crappy housework and other demands need to get done before I sit down with my writing, an art project, a good book, etc. This idea is going to take some work, nothing short of brain surgery, but it seems like a healthier way to handle projects.

Idea 9: Use my cell phone more for recording ideas—set up Siri to document my ideas on the spot.
It frustrates me to no end when I know I had a great idea and it slips away. I’m not totally tied to my cell phone like some, but I like the idea of using it as a tool for capturing ideas in the car or anywhere on the run. I’m hoping Siri can help me do that very thing.

Are these ideas doable? Too ambitious? Time will tell, but I figure even if I adopt just one or two of these new habits, I’ve made some progress. Stay tuned!

 

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