You’re no Frida Kahlo but love to paint? No Anne Tyler but writing is your passion? Or maybe you can’t act your way out of a paper bag but dream of performing Lady Macbeth to a packed house (even if it is community theater)?
Fear not. Being creative isn’t about talent; it’s a state of mind. A kind of “I create, therefore I am!” mentality. Below, 7 ways to get your creativity in gear – and how to keep the momentum going…
1. Do what you love; love what you do.
It’s one thing to say, “I’m a creative person.” It’s another to actually go out and be one. One way to walk your talk is to do the thing that makes you feel passionate and alive; something that really floats your boat.
If strolling through a rose garden puts a smile on your face, for instance, why not create your own floral fantasy, right in your own backyard? (Don’t fret, city-dwellers; that’s what window boxes – or even vases – are for.) If you’ve always suspected that the actor’s life is for you, why not enroll in a drama class or volunteer for a community theater production? Or, if you’ve always wanted to tap dance but have two left feet, dare to take a dance class. Even Savion Glover had to start somewhere. So can you.
2. Think outside the box.
Convinced that you don’t have a creative bone in your body? Pish-tish! Everyone – and I mean everyone – has the capacity to be creative. You just need to redefine what “creativity” actually is and then approach it from that angle.
My client Jen, for example, a business-school grad with a keen, analytical mind, expresses her creativity via a blog she writes about standardization ([http://standardizationglobalization.blogspot.com/]). Another client, Allison, is able to express her creativity via her work as a hairstylist. Although she’s already good at what she does, she’s exploring the possibility of taking cut-and-color classes to add a dash of creativity to her professional development. And my friend Cindy, a no-nonsense accountant who swears up and down that she is not in the least artistic, expresses her creativity via the pages of her beautiful, intricately laid out scrapbooks.
Therefore, ask yourself this: What outside-the-box things can you do to express your creativity? Start brainstorming and see what you come up with. Your answers might surprise, delight and even fascinate you. Give it a try!
3. Keep an open mind.
Even after several attempts at brainstorming, it may turn out that your mind feels blanker than a MoMA canvas. If that’s the case, don’t give up. Try this visualization technique instead: In a quiet place, with no noise, no kids, no cell phone or any other distractions, close your eyes and picture yourself engaged in an activity that genuinely interests and excites you. What are you doing? Whom are you doing it with — are you alone or with a partner? What do you feel? What do you see? Now grab your journal and start jotting down these images, ideas and feelings. Keep writing until your vision begins to take shape.
When you’re in a relaxed, receptive state, open to new thoughts, new feelings and new ideas, chances are that your creativity will rise to the occasion.
4. Work from the outside in.
Another way to flex your creativity muscle is to slightly alter or update your look. If you’re a cashmere twin set and pearls kinda gal, why not shake it up a bit and try something new? A brightly colored scarf? Dangly earrings? Funky shoes? Or, if you’ve sported the same hairstyle since college – or even, heaven forbid, high school – you might consider a subtle update (bangs, anyone?). Same goes for your perfume. Sure, having a signature scent is fine, but don’t be afraid sample other scents too. You might discover that there’s more to life than Chanel No. 5 (sorry, Coco, but it’s true).
That’s not to say you should ignore what you like or change your style completely; going from glam to Goth is not a smooth move. Feeling comfortable and secure in who you are and how you look is, above all, key.
The bottom line? Getting stuck in a rut can be hazardous to your creativity.
5. Have the right tools.
If you’re a wannabe creative writer, you’d better make sure to carry a small journal or notebook with you at all times, to record your thoughts and observations; bits of conversation picked up in your travels; interesting or unusual occurrences; even street signs, T-shirt slogans and bumper stickers (my recent favorite: “Men Are the New Women.”) If you’re an aspiring artist, having a sketchpad and colored pencils or charcoal on hand is key. If you’re a composer, having a tape recorder within reach can be useful.
The point is, writers write. Artists draw. Composers compose. Having the right tools on hand to ply your trade is essential. After all, you never know when the muse will strike. And if it strikes when you’re unprepared, you’ll feel as if you missed out. Or, to put it bluntly, if you snooze… you lose!
6. Step outside your comfort zone.
Playing it safe might work for you in some instances (driving comes to mind), but not when it comes to getting your creative juices flowing. For that, you’ve got to journey along the path not taken. Dare to dream. Take a walk on the wild side. (For inspiration, check out Sark’s The Bodacious Book of Succulence: Daring to Live Your Succulent Wild Life, Fireside Books, 1998).
Now, that’s not to say that you’ve got to run out and get a rose tattooed on your upper thigh, or pierce your septum, or even dye your hair fuchsia in order to be a “wild,” “succulent” and creative woman. Walking on the wild side – at least in this case – involves ignoring that whiny, self-deflating inner voice that keeps trying to tell you, “I can’t.” “I shouldn’t.” Or, “This is not for me.”
Unless you take a chance and see what is out there for you, you may run the risk one day of asking yourself, “Why didn’t I at least try?”
Don’t sell yourself short. Take out all the stops and see what happens. You might surprise yourself.
7. Play the (art) field.
Once you’ve narrowed down what floats your creative boat, get out there and give it your all. Paint up a storm. Dance to abandon. Write your heart out. Ham it up!
If, however, you come to the conclusion that your original vision of what floats your boat isn’t working for you, for whatever reason, don’t despair. Regroup, and try again. Perform the visualization exercise once more and see where it leads. Remember, there is an artistic outlet for you. All you have to do is plug it in, and turn it on!
About The Author:
Melissa Roske, ACC, founder of Wheels in Motion Coaching (http://www.WheelsInMotionCoaching.com), is a New York University-trained Life and Personal Coach, committed to helping women realize their potential and to successfuly attain their goals. Certified by the International Coach Federation (ICF), Melissa is an internationally published author, advice columnist and relationships advisor.
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