I’ve often wondered why we encourage play and creativity in children, but make it completely optional as adults. When you are creative, you are a better problem solver and have a built in outlet for stress.
Tony Wagner, Author of Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World says, “imagining and creating give us a sense of purpose. If you lack those things, a pervasive sense of emptiness becomes the default. The great seduction later in life is that many of us fill the vacuum with false friends, material things and medication, both legal and otherwise.”
My friends Joshua and Ryan recently wrote a great essay, Create More, Consume Less and I whole-heartedly agree. There are many benefits to living with less, but one we don’t mention enough is this:
When you live with less, you have the time and mental clarity to be more creative.
When you have fewer obligations on your plate, less stress in your family and fewer distractions, you have the freedom to be creative. That creativity could be anything from writing music, crafting blog posts, painting, photography, choreography, poetry, to making beautiful desserts and many other things.
Sometimes it feels silly to be creative, or you might not think you have the time, but your creative work is so important.
Kayla, a writer that I’ve been working with recently told me that she feels her work is self-indulgent and that it is hard to justify time to create. With household obligations and making time for family and friends, her creative work came last.
I shared this Steven Pressfield quote with her as a reminder that her creativity was not only important, but essential.
“It may help to think of it this way. If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself,. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.”
Her creativity is important to her, to her family and to the world. And so is yours. Just because your creativity might not pay the bills, or put food on the table doesn’t mean it doesn’t feed you, your family and community in so many other meaningful ways.
Awesome ways to get creative right now …
- Write out loud. Learn how to tell your story in the digital age, how to feed your creative juices, how to make time to write, and much more. Join author Tammy Strobel for a creative writing course: Writing in the Digital Age
- Play DJ. Create a playlist on 8tracks to share with friends and play it while you create.
- Document your life. 31 Things with Ali Edwards will help. Over the course of 31 days you’ll receive daily email that prompts you to document one story from your everyday life. Each email will include a specific word/theme for the day, a detailed writing prompt with suggestions on how to tell the story, and a photo prompt.
- Take a walk. Stretch your legs and clear your mind to ignite your creative spark.
- Read. Drawing Your Life by Michael Nobbs and The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron will inspire and encourage.
- Be playful and curious. Go outside and play! Balance on a rock and take a picture of your shadow as you are falling off, juggle lemons, or see if you still have the hip action to make a hula hoop go round. Author, Wagner says, “Creativity, imagination and innovation usually find us during moments of play.”
- Start a morning routine. Feed your body and brain before anyone else needs you in the morning. Create a meaningful morning routine and you will naturally be more intentional about creativity or other things that matter to you during the day.
Each of these ideas can help you get started creatively, or help if you are up against a creative block. When I am writing, if the words don’t flow, I take a walk or get on my yoga mat. Instead of trying to force ideas, I let them go completely. Often, you have to let go to let in.
There are many ways to be creative, but first you have to give yourself permission to do creative work. Think less about what you will get out of it and more about what you will put into it. Your efforts may result in a beautiful work of art, but regardless of the outcome, you will benefit from the work and play.
In that split second when you get lost in your scrapbooking/writing/painting/baking/photography project, you’ll discover why it’s so important.
What creative project are you thinking about or working on right now?