Thursday, January 24, 2013

Feed your Creativity - A List

Posted by Jennifer Baylor at The Writing Cocoon.  

I've been going through a bit of a slow patch the last week. I still managed some free writing and wrote a short story (it received rave reviews from my readers - hooray!), but I've not worked on The Beast (AKA WiP1) in a week. The creativity impulse has been wavering, wilted, waning (Yes, already...funny how these things go).

I saw this list, 33 Ways to Stay Creative, on Google+ (thanks, Girl Writer) and it made me think about how we creative types need to take care of ourselves and protect our creativity from perfectionism, insecurity, boredom, isolation, negativity, burn-out and fear.

The list has some good ideas ("carry a notebook everywhere"), some ideas I subscribe to but that are not as universal ("drink tea or coffee"), and then there are some ones I'm not sure what to do with ("be otherworldly"). The list made me ask myself: how can I do a better job of nurturing my creativity and protecting this still-fragile writer identity?

So, without further ado, I present to you (I've borrowed a few suggestions from the above linked list where noted with an *) my version of the list:

Feed Your Creativity - A List
  1. Carry a notebook everywhere.* (I have tiny notepads with tiny pens. They fit in the tiniest of bags or pockets. I record: overheard conversation snippets, funny signs, random thoughts, etc.)
  2. Take a daily walk outdoors. (Preferably somewhere pretty or inspiring and filled with nature.)
  3. Write badly, boldly - just write. (or draw or paint or whatever you do)
  4. Experiment with various hobbies/activities (I took boxing lessons for a while, for example, and I want to learn to pick locks.)
  5. Take up a creative hobby different than your main passion. (For example: if you're a writer, do something wordless, like knitting or painting or photography.)
  6. Create a pleasant, healthy ritual around your work. (Sit down to your workstation with a cup of nice tea or cocoa, start your day with your favorite song, or light a candle or incense. Don't start your creative sessions with a cigarette (or something addictive and bad for you) - trust me.)
  7. Collect "found objects" and keep them in a box for inspiration. (This came from a writing teacher. I collect pine cones and dried leaves/seeds, bits of fabric or buttons, weird items from thrift shops, toys, old pictures and postcards, etc. and keep them in a nice tin or box.)
  8. Take breaks and get plenty of rest.*
  9. Learn how to accept criticism graciously. (Don't take it personally - you are not your art. Also, recognize when criticism doesn't feel true for you. Which leads to...)
  10. Trust your gut.
  11. Meditate daily. (Seems like creative types have a lot going on upstairs - ten minutes of quiet every day does wonders). 
  12. Drink your water. (Hydration - it's important)
  13. Take a class or join a group. (A lot of art work is solitary work. Being with others who share your passion can be invigorating.)
  14. Read books, watch plays, see a film, go to a museum. Travel if you can.*
  15. Study a foreign language.
  16. Learn to like yourself. 
  17. Don't always wait on the Muse. (Sometimes you just have to make things happen. )
  18. Have goals you can control, and know how you're going to make them happen.
  19. Put yourself out there: be vulnerable.  (Go ahead and create a blog, submit a story, tell your friends you wrote a book, etc.)
  20. Finish something.* (Nothing feels as good as finishing a project. It will keep you going for quite some time.)
  21. Cut negative people out of your life. (If someone is sucking the life out of you - take a hard look at their place in your life. Some people are vampires.)
  22. Make note cards with creative, inspirational or funny quotes or images and hang them around your work station.
  23. Laugh daily. 
  24. Don't take yourself (or your art) too seriously. If you can laugh at yourself or your work every once in a while, it takes the edge off.
  25. Share your work with others. 
  26. If you can, change your work setting once a week. (For writers, it is easy: grab pen and notepad and go to the local coffee shop, park or library.)
  27. Take care of your health. (Go to the dentist, already!)
  28. Let yourself cry.
  29. Love a pet. 
  30. Enjoy the small things: a sunset, a sleeping cat, holding hands, quiet mornings, the smell of a flower, dark chocolate.
  31. Be content with now, enjoy where you're at in your artistic journey. 
  32. Don't expect to master your craft immediately.  (Goes along with #31)
  33. Accept that there will be bad days.
  34. Create a space dedicated to your art. (My "writing space" is the corner of the guest room/sewing room/exercise room/storage room, but that corner is organized with all my "tools" and decorated with stuff that inspires me.)
  35. Respect your art. (Dedicate time to it, study "the masters," have your work critiqued, commit yourself to your work, finish your projects.)
  36. Enjoy what you do. (If you don't, do something else.)

What do you do to protect your creativity?


  1. Love that list....thanks for posting it. Totally agree with them all..especially #32 :)

    1. Thanks, Mark! Yeah, #32 is an interesting one. I'm amazed that people don't realize that writing is a skill that takes practice and effort and time, but completely puzzled when they are discouraged by this.

  2. I'm taking a month off writing to read, go to the gym, sort through other WIP's. Hope to restart next month with a new mindset.

    1. That sounds like a great idea, Debbie. Sometimes stepping away from something helps - it usually yields an interesting perspective, at least. I should probably follow that "go to the gym" idea...

  3. That's quite a list, and quite a lot of them I agree with. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Jeff! It was probably more a reminder to myself than anything. Do as I say...and all that.