Hardwired for creativity
or we can inspire our own creative life purpose
and truly feel the wind beneath our wings.
– Steve Parish
I consider our current ever-changing life restrictions as a massive opportunity for creatives to evolve in new directions. I’m sensing a new normal in the air. Old fears have been knocking on my door again, and I have to remind myself how I use creativity to overcome anxiety and get that endorphin rush and internal “Yes!” again. In this post I’ll talk you through how I do it and give you my top 12 tips for developing a joyful, creative life.
When I finish a creative project, I always get an endorphin rush and a “Yes!” even if it’s a single image. The better the work expresses my emotions in the moment of creation, the bigger the rush and the louder the “Yes!”. It’s the drug that keeps me going. It’s also how I KNOW that I’ve finished – it comes from the heart/gut.
Most creatives would agree that the more they exercise their creativity, the better their outcomes are, especially when their processes are free from overthinking adverse effects. It’s about practise and flow – you get better at creating by just starting and making things.
Above> Take a metaphor from nature. The reef heron may remain completely still for hours waiting for the tide to bring food within striking range. Then, just before striking out at its prey, the bird ever so gently rocks its body back and forth from left to right while the head remains entirely still. Then, through trial and error, the bird instinctively strikes out with alarming speed. If unsuccessful, the birds will repeat the activity until success is assured. Over, and over, and over, if necessary. After all, if it gives up, it is dead! Humans don’t die physically, but they can tell themselves they are a failure, and before long, they believe it to be true. For some, this can cause considerable anxiety.
While we can choose to go with the broader community flow and create what other people expect, we get the endorphin rush if we choreograph our creative life purpose and, therefore, our creative outcomes. It’s the key to feel the wind beneath our wings truly.
So, if you feel your creative life is a failure, try looking at that feeling through a different prism. Like all feelings, it’s not a permanent end or a giant full stop; it’s temporary. And it’s a learning experience. All creatives hit roadblocks. Don’t fight them – that creates mental and physical pain.
There is no doubt that life’s shifting goalposts can create mental barriers: I have no money, no time, too many family commitments, it’s all too technical, fear of the online world – these are just some of the many roadblocks. I hear the most common is “Too many others doing what I want to do – what can I add?”. There is only one of you! Remember, you are unique, so there is no competition if you create and present genuinely from your heart.
Learning to permit oneself to trust our decision-making processes truly is one way forward. But it’s challenging when everyone around you seems focused pessimistically on national or global events – COVID, lockdowns, international affairs and so on. I have felt this recently; however, I continue to find a breakthrough by ‘going positive’. In doing so, I created the hashtag #planet joy!
Creativity is not a competitive sport. Take time to stop and listen to your breath, your inner voice.
12 CREATIVE LIFE TIPS
- View your creative life as a collaboration between what you see and feel and your authentic inner you, your soul. It’s not a competition with others.
- Look at your work from a distance – perhaps it is a new style of work that needs time to germinate.
- What may be thought of as failure today could well be later thought of as success. This has been very common throughout my creative life.
- Never discard creative ideas. Keep them sacrosanct in a secret place if you feel you need to. They are your fuel.
- Always choose creative council with care, especially during the early, possibly fragile stages of your journey.
- Switch off all negative voices, voices that do not express your inner truth. This could mean shutting off the news or avoiding people who constantly voice their own pain.
- When you feel intimidated by a critic, embrace their comment then, quietly reflect on what they have said. Who knows, they may be right!
- Take risks. Banish overthinking from your creative processes. Learn to work instinctively in the present moment. Remember, there is no such thing as tomorrow.
- Consider your state of mind at the wheel of your creative journey. When still and alone, or when loud music booms, whatever turns you on, work in that space.
- When you lose what you have held precious in your life, that’s when the creative adventure can really begin. Remember, what you do is not who you are.
- Consider driven, creative life purpose as the arch-enemy of anxiety and depression.
- Watch out for pivotal life moments. They can come at any time, without warning. Embrace them without hesitation, as they can bring fundamental change to your life