First of all, there is not One Perfect Creative life. As there are many ways creativity can manifest itself, there are at as many ways to live and be creative. Creativity isn’t something mystical reserved only for artists. You can be creative as a painter, but also when working with math, as a carpenter or whatever. What makes the difference between just tasks or doing something creative depends roughly on two things: first of all whether or not you flirt with the edges of novelty in your field and secondly how you do so. Being creative is something you do for the sake of doing it rather than the end result. For the joy rather than the money. What keeps creativity going is how the act of creating itself becomes intrinsically rewarding also known as flow (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi).
The biggest plus: living a creative life bans the boredom of everyday life and gives you gratification.
How to live more creatively:
1. Be curious and open to impressions of the world around you. Try to find surprises and don’t assume that you know the world around you. Little example: most people can’t draw a bike without a reference. Not because of drawing skills but because of the complexity of its components that we don’t really observe. To stay in the field of art, I think drawing from observation is a great way to confront ourselves with what we believe is true. One of my art teachers (and exceptional artist himself) did not teach us the rules of drawing perspective. “If you really observe and draw what you see rather than what you know, ‘ he said, “ you will draw it right without those rules.”
2. Take advantage of opportunities that arise. Say yes. Live. Explore. Sow today the seeds of tomorrow’s discoveries. Listen to the whispers of your intuition. Dance on the wind of change.
3.Train being responsive to the reward of discovery and fight the natural/conservative urge to relax and park the brain in neutral. After a long day, when you’re tired, have worries,… fight the temptation of doing nothing and staring at a screen. You are what you feed your brain, you are your actions rather than your desires or plans.
4. Let go of the burden of self-awareness. Don’t care about what you think others might think. Be your own critic and listen to the voice of your muse and experts in your field. Learn from it. Insecurities are just empty spaces in the soul filled up with opinions of others. It’s like junkfood on an empty stomach. Quick and easy but useless in the long run.
5. No pain no gain. Be prepared for blood sweat and tears. It’s the struggle that adds the value and satisfaction in the end. If you’re staring at a blank page, scribble. Can’t find the right words? Go DaDa. Play. Wring yourself out like a wet sponge. There is always at least one drop left. Only by showing up and putting in the effort you create a path in your field of habits that you can walk again. But never loose the smile of your soul.
6. Mix and match fields of knowledge. Use inspiration from everywhere. Get out of your little bubble. For example: by studying art my dog photography got a huge boost. I found more inspiration and energy and my work developed faster. I also love to be inspired by words (even without context) or science (except numbers, I can’t do anything with that, yet).
1. Distractions. Life is busy. People expect things from you. However demanding one can be, if you really want to create something you have to find your focus, shut the voices of the world out for a while and distract yourself from your problems en running thoughts. Control the energy that you have and show some discipline and devotion to your goals and work. But don’t beat yourself up when it doesn’t happen or you end up at a party instead of working. You never know when you find inspiration for a next project, right?
2. Chronicle apathy and burn out are serious enemies of creativity. If you don’t care, you have no reason to solve a problem or to create anything. Observe understand and use your emotions in a constructive way.
3. Opinions of others can be discouraging, tedious (oh what a beautiful word) and even painful. It might be a teacher who says your work is sh*t, your partner not understanding what you’re doing or friends laughing when you talk about work. “Work, right?!” *insert derogatory laugh*. It is what it is.
4. Considered the time and effort it takes to master a skill there will be many hours of non-economic value. And except for that, not everything should be measured in financial revenue. Some things play on a different level like self-improvement, symbolic communication, flow, …
Our lives have become narrow enough. Our dreams strain to widen them, to bring our waking consciousness the awareness of greater discoveries that lie just beyond the limits of our sight.
Ben Okri – A way of being free.