This week on the podcast, I’m pivoting to talk about something that’s still super important, but is way, way lighter than the pandemic-related themes I’ve been covering lately. And that thing is creativity.
I mean, doesn’t that sound nice right about now? Stepping away from worrying about whatever you’re worrying about, and letting your mind go into a zone where it’s focused on making something that didn’t exist before?
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Broaden Your Definition of Creativity
Now, I’m guessing when I say creativity, you’re thinking of something related to the arts–maybe painting, or writing, or playing music. And yes, all those things are creative pursuits, but creativity is in no way limited to the realm of the arts. When you broaden your definition of creativity, you see a lot more opportunities to express it. My definition of creativity is making something real that wasn’t before. It’s having an idea and then acting on it, letting that idea come out through your body–your hands, your voice, your limbs–to make it so that someone else can witness or experience that glimmer that was only in your head a little while ago.
Creativity is Alchemy
It turns ideas into reality the same way that alchemy sought to transform a lowly metal into gold. By that definition all kinds of things become creativity. Cooking, for example. Gardening. Re-organizing a part of your home. Playing with your kids–even if you’re not building Legos, just getting into their headspace to play pretend with them and participating in a world that the two of you share and embodying it in real time. That’s creativity.
Of course, you can be creative in your work, and I fully believe that when you are making time for creative things outside of work, you strengthen your mental muscles so that you can bring out of the box thinking to everything in your life–your relationships, your home, your finances, and certainly, your work. But to be clear, I think some of you might be thinking “Oh I think very creatively in my work, I don’t need to do anything else.” Maybe your work is something creative; maybe you’re a designer, or a ceramic artist, or a full-time artist.
I’m sure I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but you still need to keep your creative fires stoked, and I hope the things I cover this week will help you do that. I know for me, as a writer, and someone who writes 5 podcast episodes a week plus books for myself and for other people–if I’m not doing something creative that’s NOT tied to my professional life, my professional work feels a lot harder.
To me, Creativity is Like A River
You need to continually allow inspiration in for your output to keep flowing. You need the fun, low-stakes creativity in order to be able to be able to bring creative thinking to the things that truly matter to you.
Maya Angelou said, You cannot use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.
Why Is Creativity so Important?
It gets your brain waves moving in a very distinct way. You can’t be doomscrolling and be making something at the same time. You’ve got to shut out the daily blather, and that is a gift. Creativity is like meditation in that way. It’s refreshing. It restores you. Even when what you make isn’t that great, or even if it’s an epic fail, you still spent time in the service of inspiration and that is a worthy thing.
Creativity is also an exercise in ignoring your inner critic. Or at least persisting despite it. Because when you get the idea and you don’t act on it, that’s your ego running the show. And letting your ego talk yourself out of your ideas just gives the ego strength. It only wants you to stay safe. And safety is an illusion. It also quickly turns into a cage that feels mighty hard to break out of.
And frankly, creativity is what helps us process whatever nutty things are happening, and there nutty things are not in short supply during this pandemic election season! It gives you an outlet to get some of that worry or frustration out.
Creativity is what will lead you to the next iteration of you
It teaches you to listen for inspiration, and then to act on it. Each idea leads to the next. It’s like crossing a stream by stepping on rocks–each idea leads to the next rock, and then the next, and then the next. It’s how you wind up somewhere that’s way better than you could have even imagined when you were sitting there batting away your good ideas. And it’s true that there will very likely be a difference between your idea and what comes out, but that gap is what helps lead you to ideas and places that go beyond what you expect. Acting on your creativity is how you collaborate with life.
I mean, I know creativity is a light and fun subject, but it’s also really, really deep and important.
This week I’m going to be sharing three creativity mantras with you:
Make the headspace, where we’ll talk about how to tune out the noise and drop into the creative zone
Let It Suck, which I think is pretty self-explanatory, ha ha,
Keep Showing Up, which is all about how to develop consistency around your creative pursuits. I’m also interviewing Zarinah El-Amin, CEO of Book Power Publishing about how to stop talking yourself out of being creative. It’s gonna be a fun week. And I for one am so pumped for some fun!! Be sure to come back tomorrow, when we’re talking about the first creativity mantra: making the space in your head for creativity.