One of the most basic urges of every human being is the urge to create. From the doodles and fantasies of your childhood, to the poems and paintings of your teens, your life is full of examples when you have been creative. As you grow up and strive to find your place under the sun, sometimes it feels like the creative juices are drying up.
This is all the more so if your chosen field of accomplishment is one where creativity is key, such as design or writing. Do not worry. Self doubt and an apparent inability to be creative are phases that all creative people go through. Thanks to the amazing support system and networking capabilities of the digital social media, you can now benefit from the expert advice of others who have been there and come out of it. Here are 9 ways you can take action to re-awaken your creative self.
1. Don’t be afraid to be wrong
Most creative people are perfectionists, and for a perfectionist being wrong can be very undesirable. However, if you look through the lives of the greatest creative artists and writers, you will find that their lives are peppered with instances where they were wrong. Trying to be right only leads you up the garden path of conformity and normalcy. Creativity is all about challenging the traditional way of thinking about things.
2. Learn to be childish
One of the greatest blocks to creativity is the loss of childishness. Being childish does not mean you have to behave childishly in settings where it may not be appropriate. Instead, try and connect with the sense of discovery and exploration you experienced as a child. Look at things through the eyes of a child, with wonder and amazement. Often we fail to tap into our creative selves because we believe we have grown up and should no longer be amazed by anything. One can be creative only when one lets go of the need to have an explanation for everything.
3. Find your roots so that you can be connected
The modern world with all its networking and communications leads to more isolation than connectedness. With spouses sharing the same home having to wish each other a happy birthday on social networks, and status updates and “unfriending” replacing the beginning and ending of relationships, we live in an age of alienation. Connect to the people around you, to your family, friends, society, culture and your heritage. Creativity is about being able to see the human condition from new and thought-provoking perspectives. You cannot see the human condition if your only connection to them is through a computer. Get out of your comfort zone and connect as a human being to the other human beings in your life.
4. Be ready to take risks
One of life’s greatest tragedies can be found in the phrase, “I wish I had done that.” The reason that we hold ourselves back from expressing our creative thoughts, whether it be in the form of a business idea, a blog post or a software solution, is out of fear. Being fearless is often misunderstood as being without fear. On the contrary, those who have benefited the most from taking risks are those who went ahead in spite of their fears. Take a lesson from the greatest leaders of the Internet and computing industry, such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Page, or Mark Zuckerberg. Almost all of them set out by taking a risk, usually a wild one, betting only on the power of their creative idea.
5. Open to learn
Ask yourself what your talk is right now as you are reading this. The greatest killer of creativity is our need to say, “I know.” When we know, we are no longer teachable. Like the lesson brought by the Zen master who keeps pouring tea into an already full cup, our minds are already full of what we believe we know. There is no opportunity to learn new ways and new ideas. The creative mind is always open to new learning and new opportunities.
6. Learn to relax
It is rare that great creative ideas flow when you are tensed and worried. True, a creative block can be a frustrating experience, but being over-anxious about it will not solve the problem. When you are faced with a creative block, it might be life’s way of telling you to get out and let your hair down. Learn to relax and recreate, since a creative life can be a very taxing one. When you are stuck for ideas, worrying about it will only make it worse, so use this as an opportunity to have a good time away from your creative work.
7. Develop an attitude of gratitude
A common mistake that many creative people make is falling into the trap of arrogance. This comes in the form of the belief that your creativity is an accomplishment that you alone are responsible for. Always remember that creativity is a gift, one that is given equally to all, but utilized differently by different people. For those who are spiritually or religiously inclined, this attitude may come easily. For the rest, it may take some reflection on all the factors that have contributed to make you who you are, capable of expressing yourself in your chosen way. Reflect on how even a small difference in your life could have prevented you from becoming who you are today.
8. Be ready to accept your anger and negativities
We are taught to discard and disown those parts of our personalities that our culture identifies as negative, such as anger. However, most creative masters have used their negativities such as anger, hatred, envy, or even self pity, as springboards to craft their greatest creative works. Do not discard your negativities or your pain and sorrow. Instead use them as triggers for your creative expression. The only way out of a room is through it. It is the same with your negative emotions. Allow them to flow out of your life as you use their energy to create your masterpiece.
9. Be stubborn
Don’t give up. Many great creative artists have been lost to the world just because they gave up. Creative blocks are very difficult to endure. It seems tempting to forgo the pain of it by abandoning your creative pursuit rather than struggle through the loneliness and frustration of being unable to express yourself the way you need to. Remember, the night is darkest before dawn and that winters always turn to spring. Keep reminding yourself of your commitment to your art, and if faced with a creative block, tell yourself that this too shall pass. Be assured at all times that your greatest creative output is yet to come.
One of the difficult lessons that all creative artists have to learn is to deal with rejection. You will hear from others that your ideas are not good enough. Don’t judge yourself by what the world says about your creativity. Set your own standards and strive continuously to surpass them.