Growing up, my brain was filled with the fleeting possibility of limitlessness. That the world was a place infinitely large, and that possibility held no boundaries–a house with no walls or barriers. You want to be a painter, be a painter! You want to be a professional crocheter, be a professional crocheter!
And yet, the crushing weight of adulthood has strangled the essence of creativity out of us all. In the pursuit of money and comfort, social status and necessity, many have lost their creative spark amongst the never ending piles of bills and emails that must be sent out that very day. So, the question begs to be asked–what is to be done?
Maintaining your creative side is an uphill battle. For the artist inside us all, there’s the perpetual distraction from what, deep down, we know to be the most essential of human pursuits–that is, to make life better. For the artist or aesthete, this manifests as an inexplicable drive that to most appears as nothing more tangible than scribbles on a sheet of paper or paint smears across a canvas. But to the artist or poet or writer, or whatever, it is something poignantly profound and impactful.
Thus: how do we maintain our creative spirit throughout our day-to-day working lives?
Write: I believe that creativity is a mindset. We are constantly creating, but for most of us, this results in an intangible thought or expression that we happen to love, if only for the fleeting moment it exists in the air before being swallowed up by the conversation. I carry around a little notebook in my pocket to jot down all the minuscule tidbits of wisdom I hear throughout the day, and then expand those into pieces that possibly resemble what you’re reading now. Write it down and linger upon it. Contemplation of the world around us is always a good thing.
Read Everything: Read it all. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, essays, newspapers, magazines, blogs (yup), instruction manuals. Reading has the power to take us into different climes and worlds. Why wouldn’t we want to escape once in a while? For me, though, the one type of text that has benefited my creativity is poetry. Its emphasis on allegory and metaphor is something that has come to inform not only my writing, but my reading of other forms as well.
Read a poem a day to insure those creative juices keep flowing. Read the tough stuff. The philosophical treatises. Read the books you’ve always dreamed of reading, and move past those bits of candy we call “young adult” and “new adult.” Dig into the meat of the literary world with ravenous hunger, because only then, will you recognize that creativity is not something you’re born with. It’s something you acquire, tooth and nail, along the way.
Be Bored: Probably the most counterintuitive of suggestions–boredom is the incubation chamber required to really let your good ideas develop into great ones. Be willing and able to beckon boredom into your life like a long-lost friend and take time (however brief) to let your mind wander. Let your thoughts drift aimlessly, and tune out the world for a moment. Let silence and muse into your life. Those moments of boredom will ultimately allow you to shift to the place where you will be able to take the chances and risks needed to truly create something essential.
Be fearless and create.
“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” – Kurt Vonnegut: If This Isn’t Nice, What is? Advice for the Young