3 simple steps towards cultivating creativity

Let yourself get playful in the process

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Sometimes I experience creativity overload. Not in the ‘doing’, unfortunately, but more in the ‘I want to do’.

What I mean by this is that often there are several creative projects I want to pursue at one time. Do I get busy creating my dream business offerings, which could potentially serve others? Do I start writing that book? (And if so, what type?) Do I get crafty with my hands, and start to learn some of those skills I am sorely lacking?

Once I’ve honed down the project, it suddenly becomes a moment of “what now?” Whether my mind is already busy and it simply requires a little bit of re-organising for clarity, or that I’m drawing a blank completely and have no clue where to start, I find I need a little push start. When this happens, my initial solution is generally the same.

Get out of my own way and get it out of my head.

Step One: Get that paper and coloured pens out

I like to use butchers paper, or packing paper, you can buy from storage outlets, because it’s big and reminds me of what it was like to be a kid and just create for the sake of creating. There’s something in my brain it taps in to on that level that then gives me extra permission and it feels actually fun to do so. I also use coloured pens for the same reason, but go with what feels clear and reliable for you. This is a whole step on its own because simply starting can often be the biggest step.

Step Two: Brain dump

What would it be like to let all of those ideas exist on paper? Without pressure of needing to necessarily do anything about them – you may never do anything with some of the things that come out – but simply letting them out of your head and exist on paper in front of you. It can be generalised, for example, all of the possible creative things you could be doing. Or it can be more specific to a project, such as all the potential types of stories you could write about. But keep as unspecific as that. If you struggle with attention or focus and find yourself reaching for your phone or getting up and coming back constantly, set yourself a timer of just 10-20 minutes where you can give yourself that permission to sit there and just let it out. Your brain knows that timer will eventually go off, so it won’t go an indefinite amount of time without that all important socials feed scroll. I also like to play a little bit of Ludavico Einaudi while I do this as well. There’s a certain sense of grand creation at play there.

Step Three: Dive a little deeper

Okay, so your timer has gone off and you’ve got yourself a page full of your brain’s most assorted thoughts. Maybe there were even things that came up you weren’t previously aware of before you sat down and allowed the space for it to come through. Kind of magical, that bit.

Now, as you look at your paper, there will be maybe one or two things that you felt a little more excited about or drawn to than the others. These are what you focus on next. Forget the rest for the moment. See, you’ve got it all on paper now so you don’t actually need to keep it front of mind anymore because you did yourself the favour of noting it down. Smart cookie, right? Get a second piece of paper out and do another brain dump, this time about that one or two things rather than the whole. Dive deeper. Explore what shows up and, no matter how silly any of them might seem, let every single idea or thought that comes up around them exist on paper. Same process, deeper exploration. Key step.

By the time you finish up this step, you’re probably feeling a lot clearer, maybe even a little more excited to keep going instead of that overwhelm that was plaguing you. Set yourself an action point. If there’s any research you need to undertake to learn something before you can continue, schedule it in and do it. The more we simplify our creative process, the clearer it becomes. Creating the space and giving permission to ourselves for it to come out and be explored is the biggest thing. The rest comes down to dedication of time and energy. But that’s another post.

Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

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