By now I have posted the major ideas of an informal model of creativity. Surely it’s not entirely original, I have incorporated several key concepts from well established lines of thought and research. Now I want to share some applications of the model. What follows are some steps for living a more creative life.
1. Expand the palette. Many people fall into a rut of reading the same kinds of books, listening to the same music, and in short, staying in their comfort zone. This limits the experiences we can draw upon for creativity. Challenge yourself to seek out new sources of creative energy— listen to new music, read a book from a section of the book store you have never even been in, try a new kind of food, watch a movie from a decade you weren’t even around for.
2. Minimize depression. This might seem obvious, but creative slumps often involve depression and can be maintained by depressive thinking. Depression interferes with our work flow, and skews our evaluation of the work we have done. Worst of all depression assaults our motivation to start new tasks. If this is happening to you, do something about it. Talk to someone who can help.
3. Build a community. Expand the number of people with which you can talk about your work, and about creativity in general. This might be done through one of the many online communities, or it might be just offering a friend the chance to read something you wrote. Just make sure the exchange goes both ways. Discussing ideas that other people are excited about could go a long way towards inspiring you.
4. Balance your life. Sometimes progress comes from working on problems unrelated to your creative work, especially if other areas of your life are causing you anxiety or worry. Is there something you have been procrastinating to do? Taking care of it might go a long way towards improving your concentration and opening the door to inspiration.
5. Hone your craft. Sometimes working on the basic skills that underly your craft can pay off big. With writing I find that reading about mechanics and usage can be empowering. Or reading “how to write books” can also stir things up.
6. Improve your workflow. Take a look at how you approach the tasks involved in creating. Sometimes organizing a bit can help things get moving. Make a list of projects you want to work on. Break down your current project into a number of steps. Work out a schedule to allow you to put more time into your projects.
7. Protect your attention. Give some thought to how you could minimize distraction. Create a space that will allow you to work comfortably and with minimal intrusion.
8. Contact the Muses. Creativity happens most easily when we are inspired. And inspiration happens when we have experiences that bring us in contact with the basic emotions. Seek out experiences of love, beauty and awe. When emotions occur, let them unfold. Study frustration, excitement, jealousy…anger. Consider both your own organic emotions and those that are fostered by the creativity of others. Effective creativity results when you have a clear experience in mind and want to create it within others. You create using your mind—using your self. Everything that happens to you is your palette. Looked at this way, as long as you are alive you will have a depth of resources to draw upon that no one else could ever touch. Let the muses of your own emotional experiences serve as your guides.