Children are the most creative beings on earth. I think that’s because they still know that creativity—be it painting, writing, singing, dancing, baking, or any of the other countless ways we create every day—is all about having fun. As adults we often lose sight of this, and allow issues and insecurities to creep in, robbing us of our fun and creativity.
I thought of some of the fun-thiefs that have hindered me on my own writing journey.
Things that Hinder my Creativity
- Comparing myself to others.
- Writing to impress a person or group of people.
- Working to deadlines that are too tight (although there is a balance here—deadlines can also push me forward in my creativity)
- Defining myself too narrowly, thereby ‘boxing myself in’, eg. telling myself I’m only good at writing a certain style or genre.
- Writing too much of the same thing. I’m easily bored and like to have a variety of things on the go. I’m starting to ‘listen’ to my inner voice telling me what project I feel like working on. If I feel like working on my children’s book, even though today is the day I usually write a blog post, I work on the book. The creative part of me is somewhat child-like and whimsical and doesn’t like too much rigidity, so—like an indulgent mother—I tend to give her her own way.
- Taking others’ criticism to heart or allowing my own critical voice to attack what I’m doing. When I am writing I ‘switch off’ that critical, editorial voice and just let the creative fun happen. There will be plenty of time for editing and plenty of people telling me how to improve things later on.
- Working too hard and not taking time out for fun. Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way) sheds light on this:
“Art is an image-using system. In order to create, we draw from our inner-well. This inner-well, an artistic reservoir, is ideally like a well-stocked trout pond. Any extended period or piece of work draws heavily on our artistic well. Over-tapping the well, like overfishing the pond, leaves us with diminished resources. We fish in vain for the images we require. Our work dries up and we wonder why.”
An Artist’s Date to ‘fill up’ your Creativity
One of Cameron’s techniques is the “Artist’s Date” where you take out a block of time every week and set it aside to go on an excursion or ‘play date.’ This can take any form that you (and especially the creative, whimsical part of you) like.
Yesterday I went to see a delightful French movie with subtitles. I loved the characters, the scenes of Paris, the music and the rich rythym of the language (that I couldn’t understand, but filled me up nonetheless). Then I found a little Bistro/Deli that was playing Italian music and was choc-a-block full of interesting items and culinary products from all over the world. There were black and white photos on the wall of scenes from Old Havana, and the menu was an unusual eclectic affair. Even my order surprised me. Instead of the traditional salmon salad I had expected, I was given a wooden board containing lots of little ramekins full of ingredients. I had to ‘construct’ my own taste combinations and…it was surprisingly fun. My whimsical self loved it. I went home with my creative pond restocked.
Browsing through antique stores or dusty second-hand book stores, visiting an ethnic neighbourhood or market, taking in foreign sights and sounds can ‘fill us up’ and bring the fun back to our creative projects.
Being out in Nature Inspires Creativity
One of the greatest places for inspiration is nature, and this should come as no surprise to us. Being in the middle of God’s creative masterpiece so full of vibrant colour, majestic beauty, sounds and smells, has the ability to infuse us with a sense of child-like (there it is!) awe and joy, and countless poems and paintings attest to just how inspiring that can be. Everywhere we look we can see that God had fun in the process of creating the world: – caterpillars turning into butterflies; fluffy kittens; playful puppies. My favourite is the penguin, which has “fun” written all over it. One look at that cute bird and you just know God was enjoying Himself.
As we allow this same joyful, inspiring fun to permeate our lives, our work—be it a book, painting, poem, or Sunday dinner—will be the better for it, bringing even more enjoyment to others.
Photo of Child playing on beach: Freedigitalphotos.net