Creativity Lessons Learned
Don't Wait Until Morning
You won't remember or be able to believe in the inspiration the same way. I've done this on numerous occasions and the times I do take the time to write/jot down the inspiration are some of my better ideas. There is something magical about bedtime. Sometimes. The last moments of the day that you are left to wander through your mind unburdened by tasks (hopefully). Sometimes I spend it just passing out, but often I lay there and let my mind wander. For a while, stuck in my strict schedule, I've been afraid and anxious about getting up just as I've gotten settled in for sleep...but I'm learning if I don't do anything it's gone by morning. So, I'm trying to push myself to, at least, try to jot it down. If I'm really feeling it, I'll get up and write a portion of a blog post or something.
Give It Some Breathing Room
Creativity is squirrelly, you can't look directly at it and expect it to come to you. At least mine won't. Anybody experiencing differently, please let me know! It's weird, this has gotten me thinking about stories my mother would tell about me as a baby. She apparently learned that she couldn't look directly at me or interact with me until I had fully woken up. I feel like that is my creativity. It needs to come to me, but I cannot expect it. That's why I've started to give it some breathing room. I was so worried that it was dead, inside me, that I was focusing on it quite intently...and nothing was happening. Sure, there was stirring, but it wasn't consistent and I was feeling more and more stressed that it was gone. At least the way it used to be. This intensity wasn't helping anything. Then I started trying to let it be, give it some room. That's when things started to work again. Not perfectly, or even close to what it was, but it felt better, somehow. I'm not necessarily creative every single day, but it happens much more than rarely and that is enough for now.
This one has been, and still is, a huge problem for me. I've been working in technical fields for quite a while and have needed to be strictly on schedule and following expectations. Being an obliger (from Gretchen Rubin's The Four Tendencies) means that I will do something if it is someone else's expectation for me...but if it's mine, I'm straight outta luck. Usually. Meaning that untethering is my expectation and really, really hard for me to do. Especially because it may include the issue of re-tethering later...which I don't feel confident of being able to do so well, even when expected by others. I run on scheduling, I need it to stay sane...but I also hate it. This is why untethering scares me so bad, it means I must let go of my carefully built structures and trust that it will still be there when I come back. Also, I would need to trust that I was willing to go back. And most days I'm terrified that I won't.
Go Back in Time
Take a trip down memory lane. See how you used to do things. I've found my poetry blast from the past extremely useful and inspirational. Looking back has shown me that I was creative and I can be again. Being older, and possibly (hopefully) wiser, I can bring new vision to it. I can, at once, appreciate my previous talent and learn from my, now, noticeable errors.
Take the time for yourself. Meditate, maybe. Be patient. It will come, just give it space.
Appreciate/Be Inspired, Don't Covet
I don't know that I can count the times that I have seen someone else's work and thought: I am not good at x because they are so much better at x than me. This is useless and ultimately one of the worst things you can do to yourself. If you spend all your time lamenting your lack of skill and coveting someone else's, you'll have no time to improve or develop your own. Been there, and it's so much easier these days with social media. I follow a lot of cool artists, but sometimes I need to lay off because I find myself falling into the trap that I'll never reach their level. You have your own unique gifts, talents and style. Though, sometimes, it takes a lot of time and concerted effort to find them. But coveting other's abilities or style gets you nowhere. In many ways I am still working towards finding mine.
The First 5 Minutes Are the Hardest, Just Start Something!
Do you hate starting projects? I do, quite often. I have so many excuses and other things to take care of that come leaping out at the first hint of starting a "difficult" project. I use quotations around difficult to suggest that we're just avoiding the project, but it really isn't that difficult. I've learned, again and again, that once I start something I generally start to enjoy the process and appreciate the project. But does that help me actually get things started? Nope! I am still procrastinating with the best of them...on some things, namely, creative things. It's so much easier to watch that one more episode of Community that is now available on Netflix (6 seasons and we are still waiting for that movie!) Or, much more interesting, I have yet another book to read. And better yet, I've checked it out from the library and absolutely must read it ASAP before the due date. Everyday life gets in the way of most of my creative endeavors, so I must strive to start something regardless of the more interesting or easy thing that sits right in front of me.