Is it Time to Let Your Creativity Evolve?

Welcome to Good Enough Creative, a podcast for creative people.

Hi again, I’m your host, Marie Greene, and today marks the start of our February Podcast-athon! Every day during the month of February I’ll have a brand new episode of Good Enough Creative. I’ll have 5 regular episodes and 2 bonus premium episodes each week – with the goal of kickstarting our creativity as we move through this new year.

Have you always been creative? I’ve been wondering about this over the years, because I grew up just knowing – instinctively – that I was a creative person. And I wonder sometimes if I believed (or knew) that because someone else told me that I was. Or maybe someone in my life just recognized it and gave it a name. I don’t know – I don’t know if we inherently know this about ourselves or not.

But I do think we’re all naturally creative. Some of us more than others. And yet no matter how creative we might be, there will always be times when we hit a slump. When we don’t feel super creative. When we’re not inspired. Or when we just feel like we’re in a rut. Have you ever just felt like – I don’t want to start a new project. I just want to sit here and binge-watch true crime and not make art.

It’s weird because I feel like I always want to be creative, make art, dive into a new project, and then… there’s just this moment when …. I don’t. I just don’t feel it. Or sometimes it’s that I can’t figure out what it is that I DO want to do. I feel like doing something… but just something else. And I don’t know what.

Why do we go through phases of feeling inspired and then suddenly not?

In today’s episode we’re talking about how to evolve in your creative practice when you need a little bit of fresh new inspiration.

There are three things that we can do to tap into some fresh new inspiration. And one of these I’ve talked about before, so I want to approach it a little differently for this episode.

Those three things are this:

  • Change your habits.
  • Change your mindset.
  • Change your circle.

And it’s not lost on me that all three of these start with the word change. When you need a change, you have to make a change.

So let’s start with habits.

There’s a quote that is attributed to a couple of different authors, but essentially it says, “I only write when inspiration strikes. And fortunately, inspiration strikes every morning at 9 AM.”

Some portion of the creative process is just showing up and being consistent – and that’s something I really believe in. If you don’t already have some creative habits in place, and you’re feeling uninspired, sometimes what you need is to schedule that time for yourself, make the habit, so that you are ready and waiting for inspiration when it DOES strike. So often I sit down to my computer to work on the next book, podcast, pattern, whatever, and I just stare at that blank page for a little bit until something comes. And when it does, it’s not always amazing, but – it does seem to get the ball rolling.

Sometimes it’s not about waiting until you’re inspired, sometimes it’s about putting yourself in the right place to receive it, so that when it’s ready for you – you’ll be ready for it.

Showing up is half the battle.

But if showing up at your scheduled creative time isn’t doing the trick, sometimes what you might need is a new habit. I’m a big fan of Bullet Journals, and the more I learn about the founder and the process, the more I love how it works. I participated in a creator conference last week and one of the speakers talked about his bullet journal and how he kept writing the same things down every day – and then he didn’t do it, so he had to move that thing to the next day. And then the next day. And then the next day. And he said, there’s actually something that happens when you keep writing that one item over and over and just don’t get to it. At some point you look at your page and think, is there a bigger reason here? Do I just not want to do this? And I sort of relate this to times when I feel myself dragging my feet in some area of my life, and in this case we’re talking about something creative, and I think… do I need to ask a different question here? Is that I need to force myself to do this, or do I need to step back a bit and ask – why don’t I want to?

Sometimes it’s because a deadline sort of squashes our creativity. (Although, I’m highly deadline driven, and for me – deadlines just ensure that I reach the finish line. But I know for some people, having a deadline really ruins the fun.)

Other times it’s because we don’t like the project.

Sometimes we’re worried about how it will be received.

And sometimes we just need a change of pace.

Regardless of the reason, when you change a habit, you will make some space for new ideas and inspiration to circulate.

I think – for many of us – we try to fit creativity into the margins of our lives. We don’t all have the luxury of scheduling writing time at 9 am every morning. But we can look at our schedules and ask if maybe what we need is to actually MAKE the time, create a new habit, so we can make that connection again and find our way back to being inspired.

Changing your mindset is also really important. I work with a lot of makers, entrepreneurs, creatives and artists – so many amazing creative people. And I see the difference between those who focus on what’s not working instead of shifting their focus to what is. We can so easily end up in a spiral when we feel stuck. It might look like focusing on what isn’t working out the way you wanted it to. Or feeling like maybe it doesn’t look very good. Or you spend time criticizing yourself and all the areas that aren’t perfect.

When you’re focused on what’s wrong, you really miss out on seeing what’s right. And of course you’re going to feel stuck and uninspired.

Changing your mindset isn’t always super easy, but it’s not impossible. Listen to audiobooks that are written by inspiring people. Listen to an uplifting podcast. Positivity loves company (and so doesn’t negativity) – so if you need a shift, look at what you’re listening to, reading, and how you’re spending your time. Is there something in your routine that you could change to make more room for things that will uplift you? It doesn’t even have to be specifically about creativity. I follow this flower company in Washington State and their whole thing is growing flowers and selling seeds – and I always feel so inspired and uplifted when I read their posts, when I watch their videos, and even though it really has nothing to do with any of my creative work (except that I am trying to get into a little bit of a flower arranging hobby) – it still leaves me feeling inspired. So if you’re feeling like your creativity sort of needs to evolve because you’re in a rut, then maybe just look for a little bit of new inspiration – on any subject – that can help you shift your mindset.

Last – Change your circle. Creativity is often considered to be passed through our connections to other people. Sometimes what you need to get unstuck is to spend an afternoon with new people. Once in a while when I’m feeling like I am on the cusp of a good idea, but I still don’t quite know what it is, I’ll go downtown and sit in a coffee shop with my laptop. Or I’ll sign up for a free lecture at the library on a topic I know absolutely nothing about, and probably would never have considered attending, except that I just know that if I put myself into a new situation, surrounded by different people, I’m likely to land on inspiration that I didn’t know I needed. I once sat through a water quality lecture at the library and it was absolutely fascinating. I have very little interest in the topic (other than that I do want to drink good water), but the whole thing just shook the cobwebs loose. I had all of these random ideas about writing a book that had a water quality expert as a character (which, to be fair, I didn’t do) – and it really doesn’t matter what you do with the information that comes your way when you change your circle (even just for one afternoon). It’s just that being around a different group of people can help you think different thoughts. Any time you’re feeling stuck, different thoughts are welcome. Maybe one of those thoughts is the one you’re looking for.

Getting stuck is easy. But so is getting UNstuck. Sometimes you just have to acknowledge that you feel stuck, and make a few changes. When you do, you may find your joy again – or you might discover a whole new creative path. We don’t have to keep doing what we’ve always done if it’s not working anymore – let yourself and your creativity evolve.

Change your habits, change your mindset, change your circle – change your life.

Until next time, my friend – you’ve got this.

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