I’ve never really considered myself to be particularly creative. But a few years ago it struck me (like a bolt of lightening actually) that I really am. After all, creativity doesn’t have to be confined to ‘the arts’. It can show up everywhere: how we resolve problems, design a business, choose plants for the garden, cook or decorate our home.
Over the years I’ve coached lots of ‘lapsed creatives’ who have allowed their creative pursuits to get pushed aside in favour of activities that will make money (very important of course) and/or that are perceived — by themselves and others — as more acceptable. But that urge to be creative never goes away. Sometimes they just need some encouragement, and to give themselves permission to pick up a sketch book again, take their much-loved violin out of its case or revisit an abandoned novel.
We say that we haven’t got time, but it could be argued that it’s absolutely imperative to make time for creative expression and that doing so can only have a beneficial effect on all facets of our lives.
With this in mind, I thought that this month I’d share a couple of exercises from the excellent book ‘The Artist’s Way‘ (by Julia Cameron) to help give a kick-start to your creative expression. The first is the Morning Pages. This is your chance to get all the rubbish out of your head and to make way for new ideas, inspiration and possibilities. First thing in the morning before you do anything else you write three pages (handwritten, not on a laptop or tablet) of absolutely anything that comes to mind. It’s a stream of consciousness which nobody else will see so it doesn’t have to be neatly written, spelled correctly or make sense to anyone but you.
There’s no right or wrong way to do the morning pages. The idea is just to get everything in your head out and down on paper. Cameron explains: “All that angry, whiny, petty stuff that you write down in the morning stands between you and your creativity. Worrying about the job, the laundry, the funny knock in the car, the weird look in your lover’s eye – this stuff eddies through our subconscious and muddies our days. Get it on the page.”
Some people treat the morning pages as daily meditation. Many love the process of writing them so much, and find them so helpful, that they continue to do them long after they’ve finished reading the book.
The second exercise is the Artist’s Date. Once a week, block out some time for yourself and choose an activity where you simply have fun and let your creative self out to play. Anything goes. Consider that your artist is a child, so you might choose to go to the beach, visit an aquarium or art gallery, take in a movie, go for a long country walk, go to a club to listen to music, attend a poetry reading or spend an hour or two making cards or jewellery. The possibilities are endless.
Be sure to make this time out non-negotiable and don’t take others with you on your artist’s date as that could dilute the experience. Like the morning pages, these excursions may well start ideas flowing and open up the channels for new possibilities and opportunities.
I’ll leave the last words to Jalai Ud-Din Rumi:
“Inside you there’s an artist you don’t know about … Say yes quickly, if you know, if you’ve known it from before the beginning of the universe.”
Have a wonderful month.