5 Ways to Support Your Creativity

The weight of political divisions, racial injustice, gender or ability discrimination, and natural disasters can be overwhelming. Particularly in 2020. Choose your meme, but many express dismay about the ongoing issues. And many creatives feel the impact of these important issues in a way that diminishes their creativity. Do you have a creative support network? Maybe it needs some reinforcement. Here are 5 ways to support your creativity with a support network.

A lit light bulb plugging itself is sort of what the 5 ways to support your creativity do for you.

Supportive Peeps

Mentors

You need mentors. People who are more advanced in their craft, who can share their experiences. Mentors come in many forms. They can be one-on-one in person, but they can also be teachers in your creative classes, a memoir, or in how-to books. You may find a mentor in your genre related creative organization. SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) has one such program.

Peers

Image of four writer friends, Peeps, Rob, Lynette, Bill, and Shandra

Peers who understand problems, frustration, and successes are vital. They be in person or classmates, critique partners, co-authors, or online friends. You can use twitter chat, forums, zoom, and writer groups online or on your favorite social media site. Make certain you choose peers who give more positive interactions than negative. And that you dish out more positive than negative.

Mentees

Your mentees are important for two reasons. One, so you can give back. That effort not only helps fulfill a need we all have, it also helps you. It reminds you of how far you’ve come. You solidify techniques and skills when you try to explain or teach them. Where do you get mentees? You can teach a class, write a how-to article or book, engage with critique partners who aren’t at your skill level, or join a mentoring program like the one from SFWA.

Refill the Well

By the well, I mean you—spiritually, creatively, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Creativity needs a source from which to draw. Make certain you give yourself the opportunity to have those sources all the time. (Okay, within the 5 ways to support your creativity are an additional 5 ways.)

Spiritually

image of zen stack of flat rocks in the middle of a sand raked in a circle, a spiritual  refill is just one of the 5 ways to support your creativity

No, not religion. (Not that I’m saying religion is bad.) There are many interpretations of spirituality. Replenish your inner self. Use meditation, prayer, sit or walk in nature, read spiritual or religious guidance and inspiration, read poetry, or listen to music. You’ll know you’ve used the best source of spirituality for you when you feel rested and at peace afterwards.

Creatively

There are many, many ways to refill your creativity. Visit museums (even online), read books you enjoy, learn or practice a different creative outlet (music, art, writing, gardening, etc), have an inspiration stash… Pinterest, Instagram, make a physical scrapbook, make a mood board, or change to a different media (if you use computer, try pen & paper, if you normally use pen & paper, try dictation, try crayons, if you normally do paper sculpture try clay, etc.) You may have other ways.

Physically

a black and white illustration of a man riding a bike--one of several ways to recharge physically listed in the 5 ways to support your creativity

There are several ways you should refill your physical well or wellness. Creatives rarely like this recommendation. But it’s important to get enough exercise and rest. If you are physically stronger, you will be more creative.

Set your workstation up for the best ergonomics. Mayo Clinic has some recommendations with illustrations of good office ergonomics.

Set a timer so you take regular breaks. Calisthenics can work, if that’s your thing. But exercise can also mean take your dog for a walk, dance, play tag with your kids, ride horses or motorbikes, or simple stretches in your office.

Emotionally

Bright green letters on dark green background states believe in what you do

Creatives are often emotional beings. Your emotional state affects your creativity. Prepare for those days when the emotional thunderclouds come. Create your own book of encouragements (book reviews, quotations that encourage you, copies or photos of your work, or letters you’ve written to encourage yourself.)

Friends who understand your creative work and are supportive are priceless.

Find examples that inspire you. A certain book writer used to keep a horribly written book on her desk because if that that author got published so could she.

Keep a journal of positives. Re-read them on those not-so-positive days.

Watch a short video for a refresher on being childlike.

Mentally

Refueling yourself mentally is perhaps the easiest of these tasks. You can learn new skills, language, or information. If one part of your craft is suddenly difficult — take a fresh approach. For example, if you normally write on the computer, try dictation or handwriting or drawing. Read a how-to, practice single parts of your craft—nonstop writing, doodling, copying masters, flash fiction, making the same stroke, etc.

Creative Space

an artists desk crowded with pens and pencil and brushes and sculptures and books--a designated work space is one of 5 ways to support your creativity

Give yourself and your creativity the gift of a dedicated space. Use part of a room, a whole room, a closet, a she/he/they shed, or go to a favorite shop or library. Your space can be portable or temporary. The setting up of your space will be the wake up call your brain needs to be creative.

Not only do you need a regular place to work, you need the right tools. Pick out tools you need and that you’ll love to use. If you can’t afford the tool you want at the moment, make an inspiration board to keep you motivated and working toward acquiring that tool.

Layout your space in a way that’s not only ergonomic but pleasing. Surround yourself with what you love AND your best work. Inspire yourself. Again, it might not be affordable to do it all at once—but aim for it.

Minimize the Negative

 Minimize the things, events, or people that drain or kill your creative energy. If you must have contact, try to schedule contact with the negative for a time at the end of your creative day.

Set Yourself Up for Success

Here are six ways to set yourself up for success. Yes, there really are more than 5 ways to support your creativity.

1. Attitude—know yourself and have a positive attitude

2. Routine—schedule your creative time during the time of day you are most creative.

3. Comfort—Get a good chair meant for the job you’re doing.

4. Light—Have light for the job you need to do. Daylight bulbs and computer glasses may help.

5. Minimal distractions—This is highly individual. Do what will help you focus.

6. Music, nature sounds, or silence—Again, a highly individual choice. Try out different things. Journal how that music or sound or absence of sound worked for you. Finally, choose what works. Sometimes we have to choose second best, that’s okay. Choose whatever will support your creativity.

Support Your Creativity

There are endless ways to inspire yourself and support your creative endeavors. You may find there will be times when you need more or less support from any of the 5 ways to support your creativity mentioned here. Do you have a good support network for your creativity? If you use something not listed here, please share with us in the comments.

Get Cozy with Your Creative Chaos

Creativity is easy when you’re a preschool-aged child. Slowly but surely, the need for the “right” answers and approval grows and creativity shrinks. We become afraid of the chaos that is creativity. Stop being afraid. Get cozy with your creative chaos.

Count to Five and Start

Starting is the hardest part, facing a blank page you balk. Your brain wants to find order. There’s safety and security in order. But creativity is not a straight line from concept to the idea to execution to product. 

What Creative Chaos Looks Like

Image shows graphic representation of creativity with a squiggly, chaotic line morphing into a disjointed line and then a line with ups and downs
Image adapted from an image on https://www.creativityatwork.com/2019/02/27/finding-creative-clarity-out-of-chaos/  

Allow Failure

Part of creativity is failure. And often, failure sets off alarms in our brain. It triggers the fight-or-flight response. There are no right or wrong answers. Does that make you uncomfortable? Good. You can’t create without a little discomfort and a lot of chaos. Plan for failure. For writers, that means write a crappy first draft. Plan for it to be crappy. Editing it will turn it into the polished piece.

Input

Feed your creativity the images, words, sounds, rhythms it needs to replenish. Gathering lots of ideas is critical to creativity. Use all the arts, all the media you can get your hands on. The things you feed your creativity mix and meld and mash together into something new and different.

Processing Time

You sit down at your creative station, your desk, and…nothing happens. Your mind is a blank. Most likely you’ve not given your brain the processing time it needs. Do something else. Unleash your creative chaos. Your ideas need time in the primordial ooze to reshape them into something creative. 

Be Open

The first idea you come up with is usually predictable, trite, or blah. Be open to lots of ideas, even the ones that seem crazy. Play with each of them a little. Have fun with it!

Be Ready

Creativity often comes in the middle of something else. Be prepared. Keep a notebook and pen or electronic device by your bed, in your pocket or purse, everywhere. Prepare your family/friends. That blank stare in the middle of a conversation isn’t about them; it’s your brain finally pulling something out of your creative chaos.

You don’t have to be an artist. Everyone is creative. But many adults have stifled that creativity for so long they believe they have no creativity. Undo the brainwashing. Build up your creativity muscles with ways you can be more creative and what you should know about creativity. Creativity isn’t a straight line. It isn’t neat. But it is mighty rewarding. Get cozy with your creative chaos and go be a maker.

What You Should Know About Creativity

What should you know about creativity? You know you can “Undo the Brainwashing,” that there are more than “3 Ways You Can Be More Creative,” and it’s possible to find “creativity in a time of chaos.” There’s much, much more to learn. Here are a few more inspirational thoughts.

What Is Creativity?

Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected. William Plomer

Creativity comes from a conflict of ideas. Donatella Versace

 “Creativity involves breaking out of expected patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” -Edward de Bono

Creativity is intelligence having fun. Albert Einstein

In the end, creativity isn’t just the things we choose to put in, it’s the things we choose to leave out. Austin Kleon

Creativity is the ability to introduce order into the randomness of nature. Eric Hoffer

Creativity is based on the belief that there’s no particular virtue in doing things they way they’ve always been done. Rudolph Flesch

Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous. Bill Moyers

Who Can Be Creative?

“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.” — Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“The creative adult is the child who survived.” — Ursula Leguin

In order to create you have to believe in your ability to do so and that often means excluding whole chunks of normal life, and, of course, pumping yourself up as much as possible as a way of keeping on. Sort of cheering for yourself in the great football stadium of life. T.C. Boyle

What You Should Know About Creativity

“The chief enemy of creativity is “good” sense.” — Pablo Picasso

Great things are not done by impulse, but a series of small things brought together. Vincent Van Gogh

Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change. Brené Brown

Create with the heart; build with the mind. Criss Jami

Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion. Jack Kerouac

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.  Maya Angelou

Art, freedom and creativity will change society faster than politics. Victor Pinchuk

Creativity is contagious. Pass it on. Albert Einstein


Do you have a favorite what you should know about creativity quote? Please, share it below. Or, share your own thoughts. What do you think everyone should know about creativity?

Undo the Brainwashing-Be Creative

Do you confuse being creative with being original? You might confuse being original with being unique. And do you think there’s no way you can be creative because your life is so ordinary? Society has brainwashed you. Undo the brainwashing: Be creative.

Definitions

According to Merriam-Webster creative means one is marked by the ability or power to create given to creating, having the quality of something created rather than imitated.

Original means the source or cause from which something arises; that from which a copy, reproduction, or translation is made; a work composed firsthand; a person of fresh initiative or inventive capacity; or a unique or eccentric person.

It’s easy to see why original and creative get confused. If one is the source or cause from which something arises that thing is an original created by someone who is creative. 

A creative person can create something original (never having been in existence before). But a creative person can also “create” a variation on something in existence.

“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” 

— Kurt Vonnegut
Image of a light bulb plugging itself in-undo the brainwashing: be creative.

Contemplate

Sometimes creativity needs rest, solitude, and meditation. Give your creativity time.  

If you have struggled with meditation in the past, try looking at it a different way. Meditation means engaging in contemplation or reflection. Yes, it can also mean to engage in mental exercise (such as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness. But the first definition is what’s important. You must take take time to contemplate what it is that you wish to do creatively. Step out of your busy, busy schedule and schedule some time to think. 

Trust Yourself

Schools and some parents and some persons in authority squash creativity. They justify themselves that they must do that to ‘control’ the classroom/work situation or to “make” a child/adult follow the rules. Some rules are important for health and safety. Group activities require some common behaviors, in other words, rules. But creativity needs nurturing. Under the pressure of all those rules, creativity can grow quiet and weak. You must listen carefully to hear your creative voice. And you must trust it. Trust that it doesn’t matter if there are failures. Most things you can do over. In the words of Neil Gaiman, make glorious mistakes. For it’s in those mistakes you’ll find your creativity.

Be a Vessel

Chance favors the prepared mind.

— Louis Pasteur

Give yourself what you need to undo the brainwashing: Be creative. Soak up as much information and inspiration as you can. But know what speaks to you. How do you know what will spark inspiration? Look for things in your learning/thinking style.

  • Visual—you learn best from pictures, images, and spacial relationships. Feed your creativity with trips to museums, art and craft shows, or other visual feasts. 
  • Aural—You prefer using sound and music. Music, rhythms tapped on your desk, and lectures or webinars will probably feed your creativity.
  • Verbal—you learn best using words (speech, writing, and reading). Reading, audiobooks, and/or journaling may work for feeding your creative self.
  • Physical (kinesthetic)—you prefer using your body, hands, or sense of touch to learn. Perhaps you would get inspiration during a power walk or a run. Gather a list of inspirational activities—a touch museum or zoo, working with clay or tools, or keeping your hands busy knitting or sewing as a way of feeding your creative self.
  • Mathematical (Logical)—Logic and reasoning systems are your preferred method of learning.Try numbering your ideas or create a systematic routine—try several—to spark your creativity. 
  • Social—you love to learn in a group setting with other people. Your inspiration may be at a party, in a large classroom, or in other social settings.
  • Solitary—you work best alone and learn best when you use self-directed-study. Carving time out of your day to be alone to think or study will be key for feeding your creativity.

Don’t know what your learning or thinking style is? Experiment with the suggestions above. I’ll be you find one that works better than the others.

Be Creative

Creativity doesn’t wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones.

 — Bruce Garrabrandt

Remember, you don’t have to be an artist to be creative. Undo the brainwashing: be creative. Give yourself permission to be creative. Fill your creative well and your soul and your happiness will grow. 

3 Ways You Can Be More Creative

You still think you aren’t creative or you aren’t creative enough? Even after you read “You Don’t Have to be an Artist?” Hint: everyone is creative. But, you may be out of practice. Creativity needs to be practiced, repeated, made a habit. Here are 3 ways you can be more creative.

Image of a row of lightbulbs with one lit...Creativity needs to practiced. Here are 3 ways you can be more creative.

Change Your Approach

You feel stymied. Blunted. Perhaps you feel you’ve used up all your creativity. If your creative self has spent time in a deep, dark hole you need to change your approach. Don’t expect it to spring out of the hole and work on demand. Think about it. Would you expect a mistreated dog or cat to let you waltz up to it and pet it without getting scratched or bit? Of course, you wouldn’t. You’d try coaxing the animal out. You’d re-establish trust and show it that you would be gentle.

Treat your creative self gently. Don’t allow negative self-talk. At least recognize and stop the negative self-talk. Creativity seems to make us all nervous. Watch this TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert about the fear we have around creativity.

Look for the ways you are creative and give yourself a pep talk. You fixed that thing-a-bob with a hairpin? Way to be creative! You whipped up dinner by combining two different leftovers? Look at your creative self!

Make Room for Creativity

Make a date with your creativity. Let’s say you want to be more creative with your mealtimes. A set time and place where you’ll allow for more creative thoughts.

You can’t just give someone a creativity injection. You have to create an environment for curiosity and a way to encourage people and get the best out of them.

Ken Robinson

Give yourself permission to say yes to every idea that comes into your head. Pickled steak? Yes, I could make that a meal or…I could make pickle steaks…or….you get the idea. Crazy ideas you won’t use—of course, but I’ll bet a good one will pop up when you least expect it. (By the way, I’m a terrible cook so my creativity has to really stretch there. Lol)

Feed your Creativity

To be more creative, feed your creativity a varied diet. Go to museums, concerts, nature centers, arts & crafts fairs, aquariums, or zoos. Take a class. Go window shopping for a fantasy gift. Read—fiction, nonfiction, poetry, song lyrics, plays traditional, avant-garde.

Try something new—horseback riding, skiing, fishing, something you’ve never done before. Notice how you feel when you try it and how you feel afterward.

Creativity requires input, and that’s what research is. You’re gathering material with which to build.

Gene Luen Yang

Make yourself a vessel for creativity. Read about or watch folks who inspire you with new and different ideas. James Clear is one person on line who blogs about creativity. See what he has to say about How to Unlock Your Hidden Creative Genuis.


By the way, I’m celebrating a little of my creativity. My new novel, Fellowship, is available on Amazon and most online bookstores starting today. Buy your copy today.

So, those are 3 ways you can be more creative. Have you tried any of the things listed here? Did you find one thing that worked best for you? Please share your discoveries in the comments. Next week we’ll discuss more things you can do to properly feed and care for your creativity. Until then, practice.