Fire Up that Creativity

“Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.” —Dee Hock, founder and former CEO of the Visa credit card association. 

Mr. Hock was really on to something. Everyone has some creative ability but not everyone recognizes it or gives it the chance to come forward. They may not even be aware they are using their creative energy. All forms of creativity, no matter how big or small, provide freedom of expression, the freedom to just be. It is a great tool or an emotional outlet and doesn’t have to lead to a great discovery or money-making venture to be successful.

How do you fill your creative space? Do you play an instrument? Maybe you are a writer, a visual artist, or a cook. Or, your creativity may shine in problem-solving or program management. Creativity is all about thinking outside the box and shouldn’t be confused with art. Remember, artists are creative, but not everyone who is creative is an artist. 

Let’s take a trip back in time. I still remember the joy I felt as a child when I would get a new colouring book. My parents didn’t care if I stayed between the lines or not, fortunately, because I rarely did. I loved getting new crayons. I loved the smell, the feel of them and how they blended. Then came pencil crayons, pastels, paint, and wow! So many wondrous ways to create colour! If I would have known then what I know now, I would have pursued that joy and taken some art classes. But hindsight is our worst enemy, and I didn’t go down that path. 

“Creativity itself doesn’t care at all about results – the only thing it craves is the process.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert, American journalist/author

Growing up I found many ways to fill my creative space. I fell in love with macramé. I would sit for hours, a glass of wine and a pile of macramé cord by my side and create plant hanger after plant hanger, and maybe the odd wall hanging. I tried rug hooking, knitting, crochet, quilting, weaving, etc. I loved the creative process, but the result was usually a disaster as I am not good at keeping the tension even. At work, my biggest joy was coming up with creative ideas and developing programs. 

After years of projects, I accidentally discovered alcohol ink. Yes! Something clicked and I have been exploring colour for the last four years. This isn’t to say I’ve stopped experimenting with other things. Thanks to online learning, I continue to explore. 

What is so special about alcohol ink? Well, it satisfies my love of colour, plus working with it is very therapeutic. There is no tension to worry about, no stitches to count, and no lines to stay within. Alcohol ink lends itself well to abstractness. It also needs time to flow, so you have to be patient (something I am learning!), or mindful of what the ink is saying. You need to sit back and watch. . . or you will end up with a dull shade of mud.

I was fortunate to sell one of my “experiments” and soon began creating pieces for various retail outlets. It can be very hard to strike a balance between creativity and sales. . . .more on that in a future blog with my friend and published author Kathie.  

It is hard to be creative on demand. Believe me, I’ve experienced enough writers’ blocks to last a lifetime. A few days ago, I was enjoying the day and admiring the colour blend in a mixed flower pot. It sparked the creative energy so out came the ink. Shades of green, yellows, purples, and pinky red. I dove in and let the colour flow. Sure, I could have been more exact and mixed some colours but I didn’t want to spoil the absolute freedom of just creating. 

When I left my job, I was excited about all the time I’d have to do art. That excitement has waned somewhat and is usually replaced by frustration at what I’m not doing. Yes, there is a lot of time to play, but my list of things to try gets longer every day and I think I need to see a professional about my Pinterest addiction. There are so many things to do that it gets overwhelming. So what do you do when that happens? Look at more ideas, of course. Or play Candy Crush. I’m still not used to “working” all day with alcohol ink, or creating new things. There is also the guilt that I feel about enjoying myself too much. . . I don’t feel entitled to my retirement time. Oh well, it has only been a short while since I’ve had this freedom and I’m sure things will change as I break some of my old habits and ways of thinking. 

If you are struggling to find your creativity, there are a few things you can do to fill that space. Your reasons for not being creative may be completely different. You have to make time for yourself. You have to let go of the need to do something concrete, and just let the thoughts flow.

 Here are a few fun activities to get those creative juices flowing:

  • Grab a dictionary and pick a random word. Take that word, a word above it, and a word below it. Now create a short story based on those 3 words. We’re talking very short, and it doesn’t have to be good! 
  • Grab a pen and piece of paper. Or, just open a new Word doc. Start writing. Write anything. Look out the window—what do you see? Look at your wall, what do you see? Just write whatever comes to mind and don’t be embarrassed. You can crumple it up and burn it. Don’t do that to your computer! Just hit delete!
  • Get yourself a colouring book. There are lots of books for adults so there should be something that interests you. Buy some beautiful pencil crayons and go for it! Don’t stay between the lines! 
  • Take a trip to your local dollar shop and buy some painting supplies. All you need is a canvas and a few of your favourite colours and a couple of brushes. Sit down, listen to some music, and swipe that paint-covered brush across the canvas. Wherever it wants to go is fine! Don’t even think about it and you will be surprised what comes up. If you still find yourself needing some guidance, there is a really good activity at DailyOm called Meditative Painting. It takes place over a few weeks but it is relaxing and surprising! 
  • Get creative in the kitchen! Start with the basics, say a muffin recipe. Then see what goodies you can add to create your own flavour. Try making smaller batches. Your taste buds will love you!
  • Nowadays there is no excuse not to learn—learn a new language, a craft, fitness routine. There are many classes offered locally and also online if you prefer remote learning. Online you can find many free introductory sessions which are great if you aren’t sure what you are interested in. Thanks to YouTube, you can learn just about anything! This is a great way to stretch your creative side.

Be creative. Don’t fret if you can’t produce a million dollar piece of art or write a novel. Just let your heart run wild and think outside the box. You will feel better. Your brain will get a good work out and you will be better at problem-solving. You will be more productive, you will have an easier time getting up in the morning—you’ll be energized and raring to go!

Here are two YouTube videos that I like. They are short and to the point. I especially like the one that tells you its okay to eat chocolate! (Watch to find out which!)

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