As a child, I had a vivid imagination.
I would play make-believe shop, post-office, estate agent, zoo keeper (with my entire collection of cuddly toys) and even a ‘hungry hippo’ cafe with real life food that I’m sure my family were concerned to eat.
When it was nice weather, I spent a lot of time outside in the garden playing games by myself — which sometimes went too far. I once imagined a wolf was chasing me and proceeded to knock myself out by running into the side of the house.
That still didn’t phase me.
On the rainy days, I’d draw and paint, and even created my own magazine complete with not so funny jokes, word searches and random facts. I then proceeded to sit on the stairs chanting ‘50p for the RSPCA’ to encourage my family to donate to the local animal shelter.
They put up with a lot. But at least I kept out of trouble.
The point is, as kids, creativity came to us naturally. We didn’t care what anyone thought.
When family friends came over to dinner who we hadn’t met before, we had no problem in delighting them with our loud singing voices or showing them our latest scribbled drawing, with the colour most definitely outside of the lines.
We truly danced like no-one was watching and we had so much joy in our lives.
Every child is an artist. The Problem is how to remain an artist once he grows upPablo Picasso
Somewhere along the line and as I began to get older, I started to lose my creative streak.
I focused on achieving good grades at School, College and University, and wasted countless hours worrying about flunking my exams. I never did. And I suppose you could say I conformed.
Creativity is not about conformity. It’s about uniqueness. In a way, it’s an act of defiance. But in a world where technology rules and more jobs are becoming automated, isn’t creative minds exactly what we need?
Life is about dreaming big, making mistakes, saying ‘no’ to the expectations and demands of others, honouring our uniqueness, and saying ‘yes’ to our true calling.
We all have a fire in our belly. Sometimes it just takes a little longer to figure out what that is. So can we help ourselves to do that?
Sitting at my desk in ‘work mode’ is hardly the best setting to get my creative juices flowing. Step away from your work by going for a walk or even moving to a different room. Believe it or not, I always have my best ideas in the shower. It’s the one time I know I won’t be disturbed and I can’t hear anything else that’s going on around me other than my own thoughts. Sometimes you just need to take a break and clear your mind to make space for some epic ideas.
Listen to your heart, not your head
Trusting, and then acting upon your feelings is the key to creativity. Sometimes you just know what you want to do for no rhyme or reason other than that it’s a gut instinct that you want to follow. And if you need more convincing, research by the HeartMath Institute shows that your heart contains a little brain in its own right. The heart brain sends messages to the head brain about how the body feels and more. Listen to it.
Lean into mistakes and the unexpected
Mistakes and messiness are unintended outcomes that quite often do you a favour and put you on the path you should have been on all along. For example, when we went into lockdown, I felt like my life had been put on hold when in actual fact it made room for me to start writing my very first novel. The same goes for losing your job, going through a break-up or a difficult injury. What seem to be bumps in the road may actually be great opportunities, as long as you can learn from them.
Actively seek out new experiences and inspiration
If you’re stuck in the same routine day after day, it leaves little room for thinking differently. To one degree or another, we are all creatures of habit. The more things we read, people we speak with, and places we go to (when we can go to them), will help our creativity to evolve. Sincerely try to learn something new every day. Inspiration often comes from the most unlikely of places, so doing things you don’t normally do will increase your chances of coming up with something you never dreamed of before.
Do it for you
If you’re anything like me, you may have often done things just to please other people, or at least sought out approval for your achievements. Stop focusing on what other people think and whether what you’re creating is ‘good enough’. When we do something just for ourselves, we’re less likely to get in our own way. Put yourself first. Indulge in self-care. Do it because it brings you joy — this is the best way you can serve the world.
To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to your make your soul grow. So do it.Kurt Vonnegut