According to a global study by Adobe: 75% of people think they’re not living up to creative potential.
Creativity is over-romanticised and under-valued. And most of all, too many people think they aren’t creative, or don’t know how to be creative, or even worse, don’t know what creativity really is.
“Creativity takes courage. ” ― Henri Matisse
I think the real reason that such a shocking number of people don’t feel that they are living up to their creative potential, is because they are afraid. Afraid to do it wrong, afraid to be judged, afraid of what it means, and afraid of what they might discover.
You, me, and everyone around us has creativity written into their DNA. It is a large part of what makes us human. Creativity is a unique characteristic of living things.
“Creativity is the process of bringing something new into being. Creativity requires passion and commitment. It brings to our awareness what was previously hidden and points to new life. The experience is one of heightened consciousness: ecstasy.” ― Rollo May
Creativity involves two processes: thinking, then producing. If you have ideas, but don’t act on them, you are imaginative, but not being creative. Which is your true nature. And, my sweet, blocking that shit up ain’t good for you.
As I am in the midst of mega-creative mode, with the soon-to-begin Gypset Adventure, I’m pulling everything I’ve got out into the world. And sometimes the muse just doesn’t want to come play, so I’ve created a list of go-to tricks to move through those moment of creative blockage.
Because creativity takes courage. Here are 27 tricks to kick creative-block ass.
1. Create space. That means: make space and time to do creative things. I need big chunks of time in my days in which I know I can just write (my personal Number 1 creative pursuit). If my days are crammed with too many things, creativity feels jammed up and just can’t flow.
2. Learn from Jim: “Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.” ― Jim Jarmusch
3. Try some releasing rituals to get things moving again.
4. Move your body. It’s the best way to get things flowing again. My personal favourites are mountain hikes and yoga.
5. Just start. Even when you are resisting, sit your ass down and start. It doesn’t have to be something on your list. It can be anything. But once you begin, the creative juices start flowing.
6. Remember this: “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” ― Maya Angelou
7. Take away the pressure. Putting enormous pressure on yourself to be creative, will scare any desire to be creative away into the deepest corners of your world, so be gentle with yourself. Allow your creativity to arise out of you, rather than pushing and forcing it out.
8. Flex your creativity muscle in many different ways. When we look at life from a grander point of view, we begin to recognise that many of our every day tasks can become creative pursuits. The way we speak with a stranger in a store, our interactions with our lover, cooking a meal, taking a walk, hanging the washing. All of these can be done in the most creative ways.
9. Make mistakes: “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” ― Scott Adams
10. Be relaxed and spontaneous.
11. Take naps often. I can’t even begin to tell you how much of my creativity come from dreams. The #10WeeksofFree program being just one of them. Even Michelangelo, who painted the Sistine Chapel from his dreams, can attest to that.
12. Talk to people. I mean really, intimately talk to them. Get to know them. See their perspective. Understand their point of view.
13. Travel. Always and often. Here’s one of the many reasons why.
14. Learn new things. There’s nothing like a really good book, a course, or a totally new experience to break you out of your rut and re-inspire your creativity.
15. Learn to value yourself and things you love to do. My bet is, they’re all creative, and yet someone, somewhere along the way, told you that they aren’t worth doing. They lied. They so are worth doing. Start doing them again. Even if they are bad, and crazy and messy. I’ll love you all the more for it.
16. Know that you won’t be the best. And be okay with that.
17. Strive to be the best. That’ll keep you on your creative toes!
18. And as Andy says: “You have to do stuff that average people don’t understand because those are the only good things.” ― Andy Warhol
19. Play music that inspires you. When I need to get into my creative zone the most, I like to play this:
20. Eat foods that nourish you. You want to be creative? Feed your brain foods to fuel it. Apparently there are 7 super-foods that super-charge creativity: dark chocolate (obviously); eggs; nuts; broccoli; oatmeal; kale and perhaps not-so-surprisingly — alcohol. (*Sneaking off to get a glass of red wine.)
21. Be experimental. Which means try new things and keep trying until you get it right. There are no formulas. That’s what being creative is all about. Figuring things out for ourselves.
22. Break all the rules.
23. Spend time alone. “People who do a job that claims to be creative have to be alone to recharge their batteries. You can’t live 24 hours a day in the spotlight and remain creative. For people like me, solitude is a victory.” ― Karl Lagerfeld
24. Watch this marvellous TED talk on creativity to get your fame going: Your Elusive Creative Genius by Elizabeth Gilbert.
25. Meditate. One of the things that people really get stuck with in their creative pursuits, is their inner critic taking over and telling them that what they are doing “isn’t good enough”. So what if you suck! If you keep doing it, one day you will wake up amongst the masters. And the best way to overcome those voices, is to go into a meditative state before you start. That way, those voices are subdued and you can focus clearly and unobtrusively on your greatest work.
26. Know that every masterpiece is created one little step at a time.
27. Nurture your relationship with your inner creative muse by noting down her / his ideas, and following her / his whims. “That’s the great secret of creativity. You treat ideas like cats: you make them follow you.” ― Ray Bradbury