Creativity is a muscle, which we must exercise and hone for it to become sculpted and strong. If we ignore it, it simply withers and gathers fluff like an apple core in the bottom of your handbag. Luckily, like those disused muscles, once you get going again you can reignite creative spark with a little focus.
I had always lived a creative life. I worked in media and I often had multiple creative projects on the go.
Then came baby numero uno. I was devoured by parenthood with no time to workout my creative muscles, and I began to feel heartsick. This malaise only lifted when I started a blog at a friend’s suggestion and actively began cracking my artistic knuckles and stretching out my creative tendons.
There are many life-shaped things that impede our ability to nurture our creative selves, but Niki Simpson also found parenthood was her creatus interruptus, which spiraled into something more serious.
“After my first child was born I wasn’t doing enough creatively and I think this contributed to the post natal depression I experienced,” says Niki.
As a hair and make-up artist Niki’s work is creatively fulfilling but she also crochets “like a demon” in her downtime.
“When I don’t do something creative I feel flat, emotional, bored, frustrated, down on myself, insecure about my skills and unmotivated. When I am doing it I feel anything from on top of the world to really fulfilled and content,” she says.
Imagination needs space to breathe and Joanne Fedler, who is a creativity mentor and author, understands that simply living is often to blame for our creative inertia.
“I think we get creatively blocked from exhaustion, emotional pain, not having enough downtime or dreamtime; a life lived too fast and too deadline and money-driven,” she says.
“Often creativity is not credited with having a ‘value’ because it may not make us money or pay our bills. But without it, we go into the red spiritually. And that’s fatal to our sense of wellbeing.”
We need not channel our creativity through obvious methods.
We can add a little flair or colour to our every day activities in order to get our creativity rocking.
“It’s not what we do, but how we do it,” says Joanne. “We associate creativity with paint on canvas, words on a page, marks on paper, shapes in clay. Creativity is an attitude, it’s a way of being in the world.”
Finding the flint to reignite your creative spark may be as simple as daydreaming and doodling. Slowing down, rather than forcing action.
“We can journal, make visionboards, learn something new, listen to an audio book, read something inspirational, take a community art class – the options are endless,’ Joanne says.
“There are two places we will not find inspiration – and that’s in front of a mirror and in front of the TV. Both of those will destroy our creativity.”
Author of Craft for the Soul, Pip Lincolne, believes she has deflected the suck of the stagnant creativity by choosing a life designed for inspiration.
“I have set myself up for success, creativity-wise. I have a whole bunch of mini-frameworks in my day that facilitate bright sparks. Get up early. Read some cool stuff. Make something. Drink tea. Write something. Do some work. Go for a walk. Marvel at pair of loved-up birds down the street. Go home. Work. Make something. Talk to a friend. Sit quietly. Talk to a kid. Listen to something interesting,” she says.
“Life’s one big treasure hunt really, and I am pretty much always looking out for the gems.”
Before you can find external inspiration, however, taking ownership of your creative self, and believing you are good enough is the first step gem in your treasure chest.
“Firstly, own your creative side. Sing it loud and proud. Even if you think you are not up to scratch creatively or have been discouraged by someone in your life – possibly yourself – it’s really the best idea to own it and push through. Stop talking yourself out of it or getting in your own way,” says Pip.
“Make time for the creative bits of you.”
“Next, make time for the creative bits of you. I am sorry, but you are not too busy. Get up an hour earlier a couple of days a week and block out creative time for you. You don’t have to write a poem or knit a sock. Try writing in a journal, watching a creative doco in the early hours of the day, taking an online illustration class or reading a book that’s been in your reading pile for 248 weeks.”
“Thirdly. Stick at it. This is your life. You make the rules. Make creative time one of those rules. Make it non-negotiable. You deserve this stuff!”
Inspiration surrounds us and doing small acts regularly will help build back that creative muscle memory and soon you will see that your spark was never really gone. It was merely dormant. You must create space to allow it to spread its wings.
“Be a best friend to yourself and make time for the things you love,” says Pip. “You don’t have to change your whole life, just start small, do something that gladdens or restores or inspires you each day. Before you know it, it’s a habit and you’re humming along to a completely different, and totally heartening, energising, true-to-you tune!”
Check out author Amy Tan talk about creating something out of nothing and where creativity hides.