Creative ruts & re-filling your cup
I've been thinking a lot about inspiration and creativity lately. Amber's guest post on creativity and consumption has really had me questioning my own creative process, and how getting sidetracked on social media has a huge impact on my work and what I produce. And Helen's guest post on women, creativity and creative afternoons has really had me thinking on the space I create in my own life to be creative.
Couple that with the work of the late Scott Dinsmore, on how surrounding yourself with people who inspire you is essential to creating work that matters, and Elizabeth Gilbert's new book Big Magic (on creativity, fear and magic), I think it's fair to say, creativity and inspiration has definitely been on my mind.
And it's on my mind because I've felt a bit stuck in a creative rut. I've been getting lost in the black hole that is the comparison trap, and I've been spending too much time looking at what other people are doing, and not enough time focusing on myself.
So, the last two weeks have seen me going back to things I know work for me. And I want to share them with you today!
1. Find an environment that works for you
Since I've started working from home, it's taken me a while to get into a routine. If I get up late, the quality of my work is sacrificed. If I start the day on Facebook, I waste half the day. Home is full of distractions, and it's taken me the past couple of weeks to really remember that my best way to start a project is in a coffee shop, and as much as I love music, I can concentrate the best with earphones in but no music on. But working from a coffee shop all the time = expensive. Working from a coffee shop all the time while saving up for a round the world trip = a bit silly. Libraries however? Here I come. It may take time but it's worth it to find the environment that best feeds your creativity. Everyone has somewhere different, there is no right and wrong, it just takes a bit of practice!
2. Take the time to realise that there is enough room for all of us
This is something I've been really struggling with. And I know I'm not alone in this. We start looking at what other people are doing, how they're doing it and trying to measure their success compared to our own. We know we're doing it, but perhaps we don't realise the effects of it for a while. The effects for me are being creatively blocked, feeling like there's no point in anything because everyone has already done it all, and feeling completely uninspired. So here's a reminder, to myself as well as you. There is room for all of us. We all have unique stories, and a rare combination of skills, strengths and values. We could all write a book about changing the world tomorrow, and every single one of those books would be different. Different stories, different approaches, different take aways. No matter what you're working on right now, the world needs to hear it, and we need to hear it from you!
3. Read books that have been on your shelf/reading list for years
It's SO easy to get seduced by shiny object syndrome and spend your time searching out new books to read. But if you're anything like me, there are probably many sitting on your shelf that you couldn't wait to get, but still haven't read! Be inspired by what you already have, not just by what you want. For me, exchanging the time I've spent procrastinating to actually reading things I've wanted to read for years has made me so much happier. If I'm not feeling in the mood to work, instead of farting about on the internet looking at a whole lot of nothing, I grab something off my shelf, or binge read someone's blog that I've been meaning to do for months. If you're on the search for inspiration, you're gonna have more light bulbs going off doing this instead of beating yourself up over your lack of productivity.
4. Cut the shit out/ turn off notifications
So, I deleted Facebook from my phone, and it feels AMAZING! Our lives are full of so much shit that we don't even notice. Okay, not all of it is shit, but do you really need notifications from every Facebook group you're a part of, and to see what your friend of ten years ago is cooking for dinner? No. Now, instead of perusing the lives of people who I haven't seen in years, I've enjoy commuting to places, looking out the window, people watching, reading things that I want to read and surrounding myself with people that make me feel great. And it's had such a big effect. (Pocket is a great app for saving articles and posts you've been wanting to read but haven't got around to. It saves everything offline, so you can peruse at your own leisure, anywhere)
This is easily the biggest one for me. When I was stuck HATING my office job and feeling like this was all my life was ever going to amount to and being desperately unhappy, I discovered Emilie Wapnick, The Lively Show and Good Life Project. I surrounded myself with people who were actively going against the grain and creating a life they loved. By listening to a podcast every morning and listening to other people's stories, I found there was a new alternative to my life. I could live a life that existed outside the mainstream. Find and surround yourself with people you admire and find inspiring. And do it on purpose. This is the big thing. Before when I was getting myself through that period and learning that there could be another way, I was purposefully choosing who I spent my headphone time with. But somewhere along the way, I got out of the routine. Find people who set your heart on fire and make you feel alive, and purposefully surround yourself with them. It will honestly change your life
Since becoming more intentional about my creativity and finding inspiration, things have changed a lot. In the last two weeks, I have started work on a book I've been thinking of writing for a couple of years now, and I've also started work on another book. I've also written an entire e-mail course which I'm really proud of, which is going to be a game changer for many people.
If things feel stagnant right now, change it up. Approach your creativity and inspiration like a glass of water. You need it to live your fullest life and it needs to be topped up on a regular basis.
Thank you to Amber Thomas, Helen Jones, Scott Dinsmore and Elizabeth Gilbert who have filled my glass and helped me get back to work that matters.
You have so many gifts to give the world. Your way of looking at the world, the order you write your words and the way you put paint onto paper - it all comes from your unique perspective. No one can create that. Only you.