At times of uncertainty, or stress, it can often feel as if our creativity has deserted us, but it hasn’t gone away, its power is still there waiting for the right moment to emerge again.
Sometimes we need to encourage it, by doing things that we know have worked in the past; going for a walk, even when this is restricted as in the current lockdown. All around us there are sources of inspiration, as the trees open with their blossom, in the garden, in the sky above. Take time to stop and take photographs in your phone, or with a camera.
You may want to go back to some of the basic disciplines of practising drawing, sketching, painting, writing, reading the work of other writers, looking at the work of other artists, revisiting some of your own early work.
When extra time is available you may wish to start thinking about how could you share your knowledge, instead of coming up with new ideas, think about sharing what you already know. Many creative people are naturally full of ideas; one of the challenges is finding ways of expressing all these ideas. Sharing this knowledge is often the way blogs develop into podcasts, or books.
Absorbing yourself in creating a structure for sharing this knowledge is a very natural way to rediscover your creativity. As you review what you have learned and plan a way of sharing it, you will often discover how much you actually know and new ideas will start to flow, and there are always people who want to learn.
Within this site there are reviews of many books that can help stimulate your creativity as well as interviews with authors about their inspiration.
One of my favourite exercises in Conscious Creativity – Look, Connect, Create is where Philippa Stanton encourages the collection of items of the same colour,
“Collecting colour through observation is another simple way to lead you into the daily practice of actually looking at what’s around you and loosens up your ‘noticing’ skills….. There is always ample opportunity for colour collecting. Whether you’re out on a walk or just doing chores at home, you will be surrounded by colours that most people don’t even notice. Once you start ‘collecting’ them, this can become informative and incredibly satisfying.…Colour collecting is something that a camera phone is really useful for, because when a colour jumps out at you, perhaps when you least expect it you have an instant way to ‘capture’ it.”
Philippa then suggests a Daily Practice of choosing to focus on one colour in a whole variety of contexts both outdoors and indoors.
This is an absolutely fascinating activity, and will heighten your appreciation of just how far-reaching colours can be and also inspire your creativity.
As you can see from the beautiful collections below, the richness of the colours when all the items are gathered together is absolutely amazing!
Images courtesy of Conscious Creativity – Look, Connect, Create by Philippa Stanton, published by Leaping Hare Press.
Learning a new skill can help guide you back to your own source of creativity, so if you are a writer, learning and practising another craft can help free up the words you may be missing.
I enjoy embroidery, but when I need to relax, or release tension, I often return to pieces which require very little thought, simply sewing tiny cross stitches to create land and seascapes. I find the repetition soothing and the colours of the threads as they blend together are inspiring. During this time the tensions slip away freeing me up to think more creatively.
The growth in the use of adult colouring books also achieved a very similar result, people saw them as an opportunity to escape from the stresses of their day to day life.
Inhabiting other characters can also help, fiction writers often describe how the pages sometimes write themselves as their characters progress through the pages of their manuscript.
Doodling, making marks on a page, seeing how patterns emerge, translating your photographs into drawings or paintings can help with creating new ideas.
If you want to develop your own writing style, The Writer’s Creative Workbook by Joy Keyword, is an inspiring place to start.
Joy has created a workbook set out over ten chapters, that can be used as a ten session course. Throughout the book there are many opportunities to stimulate your creativity. In a very supportive style her questions encourage reflection, discovery, and creative ambition as well as an opportunity to recognise the joy that writing can bring both to the writer and the reader.
One of my favourite parts of the book is the chapter when she considers Fiction – Another World. As she describes,
‘We don’t need a definition to enjoy reading fiction, and we don’t need any excuse to enjoy writing it. Fiction opens up all the imaginary worlds we could wish for.They may be worlds very like our own, or they may be visions of entire fantasy. In the best stories, the reader feels they have been taken by the hand and walked through the world of the story, seeing and hearing it in their mind just as clearly as their own day-to-day life.It can be great fun to create settings – wide landscapes, tiny rooms, oceans, forests – and to place fascinating characters there. Welcome to wonderland ’
Beautifully illustrated by Ruth Allen, and full of suggestions, prompts, and space for you to write, The Writer’s Creative Workbook is a delightful exploration of how to find your voice, and develop your own unique way of writing and above all enjoy it!
The Writer’s Creative Workbook by Joy Kenward, with illustrations by Ruth Allen, published by Leaping Hare Press
Another really valuable resource is keeping a personal notebook, journal, or sketchbook; the reason I started this website was because of my love of notepads. In every role throughout my quite varied careers, I have always used notepads, from tiny ones to keep with me when on my daily commute, larger ones to use in the office, exquisite ones I found in Venice for capturing special thoughts. Normally written in pencil, or using a pen with turquoise ink, they chart a history of all the books I have written, and ideas for others that never quite made it into production. Embryonic ideas for new businesses, sketches for paintings, or embroideries, mind-maps for features, or in my very early career, lesson plans. Archived together they chart my whole creative journey.
We all experience times when we lose that creative energy, that spark of inspiration that drives us to create, but eventually one day, often completely unbidden, your creativity will return, no one can predict when it will happen, those magical moments when your senses start to zing and you know you want to connect brush to canvas, or pen to paper when the rush of creativity starts to pour out of you. It often arrives unexpectedly, but the joy of its return makes your heart sing.
‘Hello old friend’ you say as you recognize the feeling of excitement, passion and urgency return. ‘Can I capture it all before you disappear again?’
When you are in ‘flow’ allow yourself time to exhaust the moment, but don’t be afraid to walk away and return later, the brilliance may have dulled, but recognize what you have achieved.
Don’t overwork it, every artist will tell you stories of how they have added additional brushstrokes, or continued with something when they should have stopped.
Like a precious gift using your creativity is also another way to express your gratitude to everyone who is keeping us safe, to family and friends for their love even in separation, and inspiring others with memories of happier times.