The Conditions of Creativity

So after giving it some thought I have decided (I know, if I have decided then this must be good right!) that the world is inherently creative.  But this doesn’t necessarily mean that creativity comes easily.

I refuse to have the debate about whether you have ‘creative’ people or not, so we are not going to get into that. That debate has been and gone and unless you live under a rock and need me to shout in your ear  ‘ TO BE ALIVE IS TO BE CREATIVE YOU FUCKING IDIOT’ (taking tough love to far??) (sorry) (can you tell I am passionate about this)  then I am pretty sure you know that you are creative.

However, just because we are innately creative this doesn’t necessarily mean that we are able to our best work, or even any work whenever we want.

The biggest struggle most people seem to have with this, is the reticence to actually get started with something. Or that horrible feeling where you make the time, you sit down and then nothing. Blank space. Nothing. Not even a spark.

Fuck, that is so frustrating. We then often decided that we are not creative, or that we aren’t in the right place today – we decided to wait to be inspired. But hell that is not a good plan for progress.

Firstly because inspiration is intangible, it is not on the schedule, so matter how great the idea you come up with, the sentence that floods into your head mid meeting, in the shower, or in the middle of a walk whilst are great, sometimes they fly off before we have the time to capitalise on them.  I think it is fair to say that walks, and showers are often the best time for us to generate ideas for the mere space they offer and we might have to live in peace with the idea that unless we develop a waterproof portable system for capturing these ideas some of them might get lost. But if these are our only fleeting moments of inspiration and creativity then it can be incredibly frustrating.

What I have learnt is that creativity is something we cultivate. And if you want to get an idea you just need to sit down and start. We can’t spend our time waiting for some divine muse to deliver the goods, we have to get out there and chase after that mischievous tease like a 18 year guy on a Saturday night (apoloigise for the generalisation about horny 18 year old men – but you know what I mean). She is a flirt and the only way to not be left horny and unsatisfied is to put in the ground work.

I think this ground work is different for different people – novel I know but creativity is unique (shocker!). Despite that I think there are some good places to start. So if you are desperate to keep that creative spark going and are bored of dashing to grab your phone to makes notes mid way through a shower then why not try one or all of these out.

  1. Go on a treasure hunt  – by this I mean search outside, inside, everywhere you go, whether in the real world, the digital world, or the tiny imaginary world that exists in your bedside table draw – go looking for inspiration and ideas. They are everywhere. Trust me on that one. Let the connections happen slowly, but keep looking. Pay attention, it will pay off.
  2. Be consistent – I know creativity doesn’t happen on a schedule but there is definite truth in the idea that if you show up, everyday, then the ideas will come. You need to practice.  So set a time to do your work everyday, and if one specific time doesn’t work then find another way to make it happen. But do it everyday. Even at the weekends.
  3. Walk, Walk, Walk– get the fuck out of your house, your office, your car… whatever it is. Go and see the world, watch people, look up – actually tilt your head back and look. Practice seeing the world a new everyday in the way you do when you travel, or visit a new place. Open your eyes bigger. And get the blood flowing through your body – there is nothing like a bit of movement to get some great ideas flowing.
  4. Have space and silence  – this is a no brainer, how can you have ideas if there is no space for them. If you are full you aren’t going to get anymore. So take the time and space to just allow things to flow in, for connections to be made, for a different way of being in the world. find the silence in-between the noise, however you get it. Maybe it’s your walk, maybe its meditation, maybe its lying on the grass and watching clouds overhead. Life and therefore creativity exists in all of these moments. Listen and see what you hear.
  5. Try something different  – so you write? Great put down your pen and try and capture your sentiment in a photo or a drawing (I know I banned pencils – so get creative – finger paint that mother fucker if you have to). Trying something new always sparks a new sort of creative energy and that sometimes can be the most intoxicating and beautiful thing
  6. Collaborate and converse  – yes speak to other people about your art/ creativity/ideas. (I know pushing the boat out. Be prepared to meet your vulnerability head on and show that bitch who is boss). Other people challenge us, stretch us, give us a different point of view, say the same thing in a different way, whatever it is relish being able to witness the workings of the brain and the creativity that pours from their soul. Other people can be that spark to something different, the thing you have been looking for. Often they say the right thing at exactly the right time. And if you are really scared of other people why not get started by listening to a creative mornings talk, or watching a ted video… Inspiration is everywhere.
  7. Carry a notebook, pen, pencil, box of paints, camera – whatever it is with you. Always. Have your tools on you all the time. And enjoy revelling in the opportunity to capture that spark as it hits.

And well that’s it for now. I am sure there are plenty more suggestions – in fact I would love to hear them. What have you got for me?

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