After all this time, I’ve learned a few things about creativity, and I hope this list encourages you.
1. We sometimes limit creativity to mean only one thing (writing a breakout novel, overflowing with wisdom in some area, or feeling inspired to produce something in one category). But creativity, like water, takes many forms. When I feel blocked or burned out in one area of my creative life, I don’t try to write something inauthentic or forced. That’s why some of my blogs might feature just a photograph or just a few sentences. I often must wait hours (or days, or weeks!) before I feel anything like creativity bubbling up. But I’m learning not to despair in times of a perceived creativity drought. I think this: Maybe God is directing my creativity to think of original ideas in the form of parenting, cooking, friendship, fashion, home decorating, my spiritual life, marriage, or even pet care. Creativity is all about making new connections, producing something beautiful for others to enjoy, or dreaming up something new in your life. If you feel creatively blocked in one area, picture a dam that’s creating a reservoir of ideas for another area of your life. You might become a photographer this week instead of a writer, for example. Dip into those creative waters to foster creativity in another area.
2. Ask yourself what in your life enhances or drains creativity. If I looked at you and asked, “What do you think is draining your creativity right now?“– something would come to mind. What is it? Can you limit exposure to that thing? And, on the flip side, let me ask, “When you were most creative, what was happening in your life?” Something just came to mind. Were you walking in the woods more? Were you taking photographs? Were you resting more? Were you with a certain group of people who inspired you? Were you eating better foods?
3. Go back to the most basic and unglamorous forms of creativity: problem solving. Write down a few problems or burdens in your life, and then begin to problem-solve. This is highly creative work that we often forget about. Problem solving includes reframing the problem (maybe it’s not actually a problem but an opportunity), asking yourself what’s in your power to change, and thinking of little steps you might take to solve this problem. Start with just a few problems, and see how creative you become!