7 Creative Ways to Embrace Your Creativity
I sat down with a few paints, a brush, and some old flash cards. I put on some music and sat at my kitchen table and reached for my phone. I wanted to spend some time being creative before dinner and Netflix later that evening. So I had taken out these art supplies and I was reaching for my phone to search Pinterest for some drawing examples that I could copy onto my old flash cards from school (my quality paper supply is running empty at the moment).
I paused as I scrolled through stunning paintings on my Pinterest feed, when was the last time I painted, or drew, or created much of anything without copying it from something I found on the internet? I guess if you count taking photos, or writing this blog, or creating social content for my clients, then not that long ago. But specifically painting? I honestly could not remember the last time I had sat and just painted something from nothing. Using my own imagination to create something on the page. Not as a part of a job or entrepreneurial venture.
Creativity predicts a longer life, decreases stress, brings us joy, makes us problem solvers, etc. etc. etc. I have heard this all before. But at a certain point, it feels like there isn’t a lot of time for creativity or art, unless you do it well. And efficiently. I LOVED art as a kid. We drew a lot in my house growing up. Always crafting, learning to sew, paint, carve sticks, play with play dough – OH my gosh do you all remember Play-Dough??
Along with having more designated “creative, artistic time” when we were kids, my sisters and I also were more likely to just splash paint on a page or draw from an idea in our heads. But at some point it become “cooler” to create something amazing on the first try. So we started to look up beautiful drawings to imitate on our own pages. Looking back, I can’t name an age when it became “better” to be able to imitate someone else’s art than to create your own, but it happened. And coming up with your own ideas for crafts and paintings became a thing of the past.
I think at one point it felt like I was being “inspired” by the images I would find on Pinterest. But when you sit down and cannot – literally cannot think of the last time you created something that came from your own ideas, that something has moved from inspiring, to limiting.
And hey. Not everyone can even remember a time being creative at all. Maybe you didn’t grow up drawing everyday. Maybe you never loved crafting or painting. But here’s the thing. The more I thought about my lack of creativity in the past few years. The more I thought about creativity in general. And I think we are all more creative than we think. And it is, like many things, our ability to notice when we are creating that makes all the difference. So I brainstormed some ways you can embrace your creativity – whether you have extra time during COVID-19 or not.
Play with Art Supplies
Make the time. Take a night off Netflix. Lay out some art supplies and have them on hand on the weekend. Put on a great podcast or album and spend 10, 15, 30 minutes just playing with crayons or paints or anything you have. I have done this with just a pen and paper. But here’s the thing: you CANNOT expect it to be a beautiful piece of art when that 30 minutes is up. Just PLAY. Doodle, sketch, write a few meaningful words in funny letters. Draw squiggly lines if nothing else comes to mind. Spending some time with art supplies and ZERO expectation of creating anything amazing will unleash the space in your mind where you are free to try things, make mistakes, and create.
Find a Solution
Creativity is another way of saying “connecting the dots” or “finding a way”. Because all it requires is some thinking outside of your usual thoughts. Every time you solve a problem at work, figure out a new way to keep germs away, tie your shoelaces in a way that makes them shorter (not sure why I thought of that one…), you are being creative. Really try to notice when you solve a problem and know that that is a kind of creativity.
Re-arrange Your Home
Sometimes the best way to feel good about yourself is to switch up your surroundings. Move your couch, Move your bed, Move your blender. Find a new way to exist in your same space and it will feel like you just hit refresh.
Make a Meal
Creativity is literally all about creating! And creating definitely does not just mean art & music. I see cooking as a time to be creative. Making a salad? Re-frame that sentence and all of a sudden you’re “creating” a beautiful salad. I think it “paints” cooking in a much lovelier light when you think of creating your meals. I tend to take more care slicing my veggies when I think of it that way.
Everyone journals differently. I used to journal almost every day in my early teen years. Then less and less. But I have gotten back to it by keeping gratitude journals that I write in every morning. I forgot how much I love putting pen to paper. Since COVID has afforded me more time at home, I have also started just regular journalling. What I did that day, how I feel, any problems I’m having, or just any little thoughts I have. This is another form of creativity that lets you create without worrying about being efficient or particularly excellent at it.
Plant a Garden
CREATE A GARDEN. Plant house plants on your window sill. Plant a few little seeds and watch them grow. Creation is amazing and it doesn’t need to be artistic if you don’t want it to. It could be as simple as watering some sweet potted plants and knowing that you are creating every time you pull a weed or shift a pot so it hits the sun. I have to admit I am not a wizard at keeping house plants alive but I do love gardening.
Be Mindful of Your Actions
I think the real trick to being creative is to notice when you’re creating. Notice when you are problem solving or making anything. Write some emails for work? No. You crafted some emails for your clients. Cleaned the house? No. You created a clean space to help how you feel in the space. It sounds a bit flowery but if you really notice all the ways you create during the day, it opens up the opportunity to create even more because it doesn’t feel so out of reach.
So I put away my phone and painted some calming shapes on my old flash cards. I didn’t try to make the lines perfect or the colours all match. I didn’t have any plan really. Just painted some circles and then wrote some of my favourite quotes. Practiced a few line drawings. Drew a face I didn’t like that much. Kept going. Did one I really loved. Kept creating. My handwriting wasn’t perfectly lined up, kept writing. Missed a letter, kept writing. Shoulders relaxed. I sang along with the song I had put on and just let myself create.