One of the most common refrains I hear when I’m chatting with someone about creativity is, “I’m not very artistic”. Sometimes the same sentiment is phrased as, “I’m not really the creative type”. And my response is twofold: 1) You don’t have to be an artist to be creative, and 2) We are all inherently creative, it’s just a matter of discovering what those unique creative gifts are and finding ways to tap into your creativity.
No matter what your beliefs about human origins, we each started out as a created being. As created beings, I believe we are all endowed with the ability to re-create. Whether that’s a tower of blocks or the Sistine Chapel, a batch of cookies or the cure for cancer. Children are naturally uninhibited in their creative expressions which are spurred on by their curious observances about the world around them. But as children get older and become more self-conscious, they begin to compare their creations and often hold back if they feel theirs are inferior. Curiosity, play, and unstructured exploration fade as responsibilities and more formal education take their place.
By the time we are adults, creativity is often viewed as something that those with creative professions use regularly, or a luxury that the rest only enjoy occassionaly as a hobby. Creativity isn’t usually something we’re encouraged to tap into on a daily basis in order to thrive.
That’s why after becoming a mom, and experiencing creative burnout after a decade of working as a professional in what’s considered a ‘creative’ industry (photography), I became passionate about helping others, women in particular, tap into their creativity. When I realized that I could harness my creative gifts in order to thrive during all seasons and situations that life threw my way, I knew I needed to share my discoveries. And so in 2018 I founded Bringing Inspiration Home as a space to share how we can bring inspiration from the world around us into our lives and utilize that inspiration as a springboard for our creative exploration and expression.
But why is tapping into our creativity so important and how can we do that without overhauling our entire lives or putting more pressure on ourselves? I’m going to share a few of the reasons why I believe tapping into creativity is so vital and how we can do that by using just a few very accessible resources.
Why Tapping Into Our Creativity Matters
- When we tap into our creativity on a regular basis, we begin to gain a deeper understanding of our true passions and unique giftings. When we become clear and confident in those areas, we are more likely to use our abilities and share our gifts in areas that bring both us, and others, life. And when we are using our gifts and abilities with passion and purpose, we also become more adept at saying ‘no’ to requests or opportunities that drain us. That’s not to say we never pitch in where needed because we’re asked, or roll up our sleeves to to do something that’s not in our wheelhouse. Of course there are times when stepping in to serve is required of us, and that’s both good for us and those we are coming alongside. But if we are routinely out of step with our giftings and creative abilities, then we will always be saying ‘yes’ to things that don’t enable us to thrive. When we tap into our creativity on a regular basis, we help ourselves discover what makes us tick and that helps us to live abundantly.
2. When we tap into creativity, and know our true passions and giftings, we create in such a way that we produce our very best with more ease and impact than we do when we work without that awareness. That doesn’t mean our efforts are easy or come without struggle, but when we connect with our deepest creative longings and hone the abilities that help us thrive, we stand a strong chance of inspiring, encouraging, and helping others with our creative expressions.
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” Maya Angelou
3. When we tap into our creativity on a regular basis, we shift our mindset from focusing on what is beyond our control to what we can create, solve, innovate, and enhance. This mindset shift helps us to thrive when seasons and situations threaten to overwhelm us, because we become focused on a positive outcome instead of becoming mired in the ‘what-ifs’. I come from a strong line of worriers, and believe me, almost nothing I’ve ever worried about has been solved through worrying. Also, most of the things I’ve worried about have never transpired, which means I’ve wasted valuable time that could have been spent creating beauty, inspiration, and solutions!
4. Tapping into our creativity is just one way that helps us to intentionally process our experiences and emotions. Tapping into creativity is a vehicle that can help us pull up out of a season of survival and return to a season of thriving.
If all or any of these reasons for tapping into creativity resonate with you, then let’s talk about 3 ways to do that on a consistent basis.
- Walking | Observing | Gathering
When we walk, we can’t do much else with our bodies. The action allows our minds to wander or focus, but we can’t really do much when our arms and legs are preoccupied with the present activity. And studies have shown that walking, whether indoors or outdoors, stimulates more creative, organic thought both while walking AND afterwards, than for those who have remained sedentary while trying to innovate. Walking and talking or walking and thinking have been a dynamite duo for millennia. From Jesus to Steve Jobs, walking has been a tremendous vehicle through which contemplation, restoration, exploration, and innovation have impacted society. And most of us can do it. In fact, most of us walk every day. But while we don’t usually walk with the kind of intention that can help us harness our creativity, it’s not difficult to start. Personally, I find that observation is a skill I can practice easily while on foot, whether I’m meandering through my garden or hiking the hills near home. I pay attention to the light, the sounds, the smells, the views overhead and the details underfoot. I look for differences that have occurred as the seasons shifts and make comparisons. And then I gather. I gather information and inspiration via iPhone photos. I gather physical items found on the path or clipped from a dead branch. I bring these things home to share with my family, use in decoration, or just to observe more closely. If you’d rather not bring anything into your home, just touch the things you see (the ones that won’t have a nasty side affect of course) and experience the feel of a fallen acorn or a fern as its leaves curl with the dryness of summer. Through walking, observing, and gathering, you awaken your senses and tap into your creativity.
2) Reading | Observing | Gathering
Almost all of us read every day. Granted we might do that more on a device than with something tangible on our hands, but reading at its most basic level is a form of tapping into creativity that is achievable for most of us. While I tend to listen to plenty of audiobooks and do my fair share of scrolling, there is truly nothing like the sensory experience of picking up a tangible book, magazine, or newspaper. Reading is also one of those experiences that you won’t regret, like a walk. I’ve never regretted any time I’ve spent walking or reading, whereas I have regretted time spent scrolling.
If reading feels daunting, I’d recommend starting with a magazine as they take little commitment and are filled with visual inspiration. Books that you can crack open and start almost anywhere, like a book of poetry, letters, essays (travel and food essays are my favourite) also offer easy entry. Coffee table books are also usually lighter fare that offer ideas on anything from gardening to home design to travel and beyond. Reading, like walking, is one of those things that builds momentum once you hit on an author or genre you enjoy. And as you read, you can enter more deeply into the experience by observing lines or sections that inspire, irritate, or challenge you. Consider which aspects of the book spark interest. Is is the content or are you also drawn to the feel of the book, the font, the art on the book jacket, or the bio on the inside flap. What about the weight of the book do you like or do you find cumbersome? These are all observations that will help awaken your creativity. And then take the time to gather. Highlight sections or dog-ear pages (of books you own) that really impact you. Underline words that you want to look up. Gather vocabulary you’d like to integrate into your own lexicon. Journal about or re-write passages that have made an impact on you. And then look for more books that draw you deeper into the subject, or are written by the same author, or that expand your knowledge of a certain genre.
3) Resting | Observing | Gathering
Resting is something we all do, but not always well. We sleep, but we don’t exactly tend to rest well in our society. We go on vacation, we nap here and there, we lounge around the house on a Saturday morning. But when we rest with more intention, we can also activate and tap into our creative zone.
Now for some, resting might look like meditation—a quiet room, recitation of Scripture, prayer, or affirmations. But for others it might look like pruning in a garden or beachcombing by the ocean, or exploring a city street. It might mean sitting on the couch reading books to your children, or relaxing on the porch after a long day with a glass of wine. Resting revolves around minimal activity so that your body and mind can relax and so that you can process your situation or relieve yourself of stress. If you were to rest on a regular basis in order to tap into your creativity, what might that look like? Consider where you would be and who might be with you. What time of day is most restful for you? Are food and drink involved? How long would this time last?
One thing I recommend inserting into your vision of rest is the limiting of devices. Silent, but even better, stowed away, will enable you to experience a more full and present rest. While you’re resting, take time to observe your surroundings and the people you’re with. Take note of your breathing and of how your senses are being stimulated. Let go of negative thoughts and mindsets and invite truth and positivity into your mental space. To go even deeper, gather your thoughts and observations by journaling. If that feels too difficult to tackle, jot down the things that you’re grateful for, even just the things and people that are surrounding you in this place of rest. If your moments of rest are short, make them sweet. Make sure to have your coziest spot and most relaxing drink easily accessible so you can enjoy them even when a sliver of time transpires. Can you keep a lap blanket and slippers in a drawer at work with a thermos of tea nearby for a short break? Do you have a notebook and pen next to your favourite chair in the backyard with a bottle of kombucha chilled for when the kids are down for a nap? Intentional rest that restores and invites creativity might require a little prep…just like a walk or a good read.
If you can practice some or all of these very simplistic yet intentional activities on a regular basis, I can guarantee you’ll clear your mental space and open up a floodgate of creativity. The wellspring is there within all of us, it just needs a little nudge in order to release the flow.
If you’d like to learn more about how to harness your creativity and integrate it into your daily life, my Creative Catalyst is a 12-week coaching experience that walks you through tapping into your creativity and harnessing it in order to find forms of expression that fit your lifestyle and fulfill your purpose. I use a combination of short weekly audio teaching and weekly coaching calls to help tap into your creativity and nurture creative rhythms that help you thrive, as well as help you take seedlings of ideas and bring them to fruition. Click the link HERE to find out more. Doors open only a few times per year.