You have the potential to make beautiful things. Yes, you. These anonymous words remind me to hear what my inner guidance is constantly trying to tell me, but that I’m often resistant to perceiving. Do you resist that creative guidance, as well? If so, I hope these six tips will help you learn to tune in more easily:
Find what holds you back.
“Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you ‘I’d like my crayon box back, please.'” — Hugh MacLeod
So much of creativity is unlearning the barriers that hold you back so you can once again hear and follow inner guidance. You have it. I have it. Why is it often so hard to listen to? MacLeod clarifies that whatever is uninspiring often stifles our creativity. For me it is the “shoulds” of life. Pay attention to what shuts you down. By recognizing the hold-backs, you’ll have the power to begin letting them go.
Find what makes you happy.
“Don’t waste time looking for your style…. The truth is…you already have it.” — Promise Tangeman
So much of art is about understanding the self. As you’re figuring out what holds you back, also pay attention to what makes you happy. At your core, joy is what you are. Often it’s buried under lists, obligations, and assumptions we’ve made about life and ourselves. Find what makes you smile! Ask, what is my crayon box?
Don’t doubt, just do.
When you’re a kid you create. You stick stickers, scrawl markers and spill creative energy into whatever is before you. You didn’t overly judge. You just moved from one step to the next. This is the mindset we need to reclaim. And sometimes you just have to start. Dedicate 10 minutes a day. You can accomplish a lot in that time! Whether it’s journaling, doodling, or other, just do. Let this be a journey for you to begin understanding your own process. Don’t let false starts hold you back. Be real, not perfect. Sometimes we need to learn what doesn’t work in order to be led to what does.
Know what inspires you.
“Respond to every call that excites your spirit.” — Rumi
I used to think I had to create something uninfluenced by others. This was me living from fear of plagiarism and copyright laws. Eventually, I realized you can’t create in a void. Writer Austin Kleon’s number one rule to a creative life is to “steal like an artist.” This doesn’t mean ripping off someone’s work. It means realizing what catches your eye, and somehow authentically making it your own. Notice what you notice! Example: Pinterest became an important tool for me to discover and record what I love.
Listen to that intuitive voice.
“Call it God, the authentic self, my imaginary friend, or the angel assigned to my case… His voice was mine, but also not mine.” — Janice MacLeod
In Paris Letters, Janice calls this intuitive voice Mr. Miyagi. This intuition guided her to clean her underwear drawer. It was the beginning of a creative adventure that lead her to realize her creative dreams! What is your Mr. Miyagi saying to you? Do you hear it whispering in your ear, calm and subtle? Maybe it’s requesting you take a walk or write down that interesting dream you had. Or, perhaps, it’s telling you to simply clean out your underwear drawer.
When passion strikes, take action now.
“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart…” — William Wordsworth
Notice what your triggers are and be prepared. Is it music? Movies or books? Walks in nature? Yoga? Showers? Have a pen and paper or some other way to record your inspiration when you know it will typically strike. If you’re caught off guard, napkins and receipts work just as well!
We often create to understand the mysteries of life. Maybe your creation is a poem, the way you decorate a space, or a meal you cook. Essentially, life itself is a creative action and at your heart you are a creative being, lead by an inherent creative wisdom. That spark is calling. Are you listening?