3 Simple Ways to Be More Creative (and why it’s important)

3 Simple Ways to Be More Creative

I’m often asked, “What’s next?” People want to know how I fill my time now that I’ve simplified my life, gotten rid of most of my stuff, and opted out of the corporate grind. They also want to know how they will spend their time.

If you are wondering what your life might look like on the other side of a hurried, jam-packed schedule or worry that you won’t know what you’ll do with extra time and space, you are not alone.

It looks different for everyone and the good news is that you don’t have to figure it all out in advance. That time and space you create will provide answers. You’ll finally be able to hear yourself think and discover what you like to do and really want to do.

After being on autopilot for decades, the freedom of deciding how I wanted to spend my day was almost paralyzing, but I eased in. I am so grateful to be able to design the majority of my time to engage thoughtfully in my work and do things that make me healthier and happier every day.

Now that I’ve created time and space in my life, I can be more creative. I’ve used that creative time to focus primarily on photography and writing, but recently, I broke out the watercolors and made a small painting for my friend Tammy. Her mom’s dog, Henry appears throughout Tammy’s book, My Morning View: An iPhone Photography Project about Gratitude, Grief & Good Coffee and I wanted to capture his essence with brush and paint.

3 important reasons to be more creative …

  • Creativity predicts a longer life. In this Scientific American article, “researchers found that only creativity—not intelligence or overall openness—decreased mortality risk. One possible reason creativity is protective of health is because it draws on a variety of neural networks within the brain.” James Clear cites studies and research that demonstrate creating art decreases negative emotions, reduces stress and anxiety, and improved medical outcomes. Not only can being creative help you live longer, but it can improve your quality of health and life too.
  • Solve problems. Being creative helps you become a better problem solver in all areas of your life and work. Instead of coming from a linear, logical approach, your creative side can approach a situation from all angles. Creativity helps you see things differently and better deal with uncertainty. Studies show that creative people are better able to live with uncertainty because they can adapt their thinking to allow for the flow of the unknown.
  • Develop confidence. Being creative comes with many ups and downs and a high risk of failure. You have to be vulnerable to share your art, and willing to take the risk that what you create may never see the light of the day. Engaging in the creative process is a great confidence builder, because you discover that failure is part of the process. Once we see failure as something that is survivable, and something that helps us grow and that it makes our work better, we can release the fear and try new things even at the risk of failing.

I brought a small bag of paints and brushes when we moved last year, put them in a drawer, and told myself that if they were still in the drawer in a year, I would throw them out. I’m so glad I used them before my deadline arrived. I didn’t create a masterpiece and that might not look exactly like Henry, but the joy I felt putting brush to paper reminded me why making time for it is so important.

The creative process invites everyone to be creative. Art is not just for “creative-types” and even if you don’t think you are artistically inclined, you’ll be surprised at your capacity to create great work. If you haven’t created anything lately, keep it simple and fun. Write your next poem, or draw your next picture without judgement or fear and see what happens.

3 simple ways to be more creative …

1. Take a photography class.
Tammy Strobel is bringing back her live photography course. Click here to view more details about Everday Magic, a 5-week guided course beginning on June 16th. Learn composition, lighting and how to tell stories with your photos.

2. Try a writing workshop.
I write everyday. I write for work, for fun, and because I can’t imagine a day without putting pen to paper. Sarah Peck, writer and self proclaimed urban nerd offers a self-guided and live writer’s workshop where you can learn to cultivate your imagination and vision and unlock your inner creative. (and much more)

3. Make a scrapbook.
I am not a scrapbooker, but Ali Edwards always makes me wish I was. She makes the most beautiful things. I was just reading about her course, Yesterday and Today. It’s a beautiful way to honor your past and celebrate your future in the most creative way.

_____________________________

Taking a course can help you prioritize creativity and lean on experts to help gently guide you back to your creative ways.

These are all paid courses, but you don’t have to spend a cent to be more creative.

  • Turn up the tunes and dance around your living room.
  • Join Crystal’s Year of Creative Habits project.
  • Go for a photo-walk.
  • Write a poem.

I didn’t have the right brushes to paint the picture above, but I used what I had including a q-tips and a tiny screwdriver. Don’t worry about doing it wrong. Don’t wait until you know it all or have it all. Just ease in and and take advantage of everything creativity has to offer.

 

Sign up below for inbox inspiration

Comments

  1. says

    So interesting! I’ve always thought I am not creative and definitely not in the arena of art. I now see my writing as a creative endeavor because often it just pours forth. But to pick up a brush would be entering such unfamiliar and unknown territory! How brave you are!

    I knew this was Henry immediately! I thought: “What’s Henry doing on Courtney’s blog?” Then, I found out.

    As to how to spend extra time with a simplified life, I don’t find I have much spare time. Maybe I haven’t simplified enough! But, I do feel the space to sit out under the stars at night, float in the nearby warm pond, and take a rest or nap whenever I wish. All of which is so good.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Sandra, Working with you I know that you are amazingly creative. Time for a float or nap sounds lovely and a great way to spend time.

  2. Jonathan Duran says

    Brilliant post, thanks! One small criticism, the 3 simple ways at the end of the article seem a bit specific to your own tastes (not that you have bad tastes), maybe would be more useful to more folks if you phrased it more generally: 1) Take a class about something you’re interested in. 2) Join a club or workshop. 3) Do a craft project.

  3. Thomas says

    This is a great post and I would like to contribute with a quote by Erich Fromm (1900-1980):

    “Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.”

    Have a nice and creative day!

  4. Ron Nilson says

    That something of Henry’s essence is expressed through you is more to the point than whether or not it resembles his form. I’ve got a feeling that it does. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Muntaha says

    What happens in the case where you use your free time to declutter and organize but derive enjoyment from it? Is this then considered “work” or play? Should you be searching for other things as a means of creative outlet? I absolutely love doing the above along with re-designing spaces once they’re clear of stuff. Any thoughts?

    • Courtney Carver says

      Muntaha, I think you have to follow the joy. It sounds like this is a great creative outlet for you.

  6. Davina says

    You did a great job Courtney! I have seen Henry on Tammy’s blog, and recognized him in your painting. I have also been taking the time in my day to be creative, which for me right now is sewing. I think I used to get caught up in the fact that my stuff was not perfect, but then realized nothing is perfect! So now I just enjoy creating things for myself and my family.

  7. says

    Yes! Creativity is so important, thanks for the suggestions, I hope everyone will find a little more time to be creative.

  8. says

    Hey Courtney,

    I KNEW I recognised that pup! What a wonderful present for Tammy, she’s going to love that.

    Your life sounds a lot like mine – constant downsizing, getting as far away from the corporate grind as possible, and spending a lot of time doing the things I love – writing and photography – SNAP! :)

    I highly recommend Tammy’s photography course (and also writing course, they both did me wonders) and thanks for sharing the other courses – I’m going to check them out right now.

    Katie. X

  9. says

    This is one of my favorite articles here! I especially love that you included some research about how being creative is good for you.
    Hugs,
    Samantha

  10. says

    I have been having a similar awakening of late. Being a mother to four young children, I have witnessed a lot of painting in recent years but its only during the last few months I, myself, have put brush to paper, and what an experience! I now paint everyday and cant imagine going long without doing so.

    You’ve so eloquently put into words that which my heart has experienced… so thank you. I will bookmark this post to reread whenever I tell people why I paint.

    By the way, I love, love, love your blog, Courtney!!

  11. Flo says

    I recognised Henry immediately. Great job!

    Your article, as usual, is giving me more enthusiasm to minimize and be creative. Thank you. :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *