Remember those days when you were a kid and that cardboard box was really a castle to be defended? Or when mom’s closet was a princess wardrobe? We’re all creative at heart, but as we grow older, we let the whimsy get pushed back with the all things we have to do. Things that take the creative life away so we no longer recognize our unlocked potential.
“A creative economy is the fuel of magnificence” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Everyone talks about fuel these days. Fuel efficiency, renewable fuels, alternative fuels. How can we harness the right kind of fuel we need to be creative?
When I was a kid, I spent hours at the piano figuring out what a chord was or a scale. My teacher told me to play a certain note with a certain finger, though I didn’t have a clue why. I’d try my own way, play a lot of wrong notes. When it was time for my lesson, she’d make me do it the right way. Again. I hated piano lessons, but I loved to play. If I hadn’t learned how to play, I wouldn’t have the ability to create music today.
When it comes to creativity, we have to learn the skills necessary before we can break the rules or turn it into something unique. The same holds true in writing. If you don’t know understand POV or the mechanics of dialogue, your reader will get confused. Preparation is fundamental to creating anything of importance.
I’ve heard the story of Mozart my whole life. A prodigy, a child genius who composed his first musical pieces at the age of five. There’s a little more to the story than the glamour and magic we remember as Mozart. His sister, Nannerl, recalled after his death that as a young child, Mozart spent much time at the keyboard. He was always picking out thirds and striking keys. His father began to teach him to play at age four.
At age five, Mozart was composing pieces by playing them on the keyboard, which his father wrote down for him, since he hadn’t mastered writing the mechanics of music at that time. Later, Mozart toured Europe, performing for royalty and meeting with famous composers who influenced his music. Mozart’s most famous works were written during his later years.
Mozart was practicing from an early age. He was learning how to play, how music worked. It wasn’t magic. He didn’t sit down at the keyboard one day and plunk out a perfect concerto. Sure, he was a prodigy and a genius, but he still had to learn and practice.
This holds true for any creative field, whether you are a writer, an artist, a musician. Or maybe your not in an “artistic” field. Maybe you’re a teacher who creates lessons to inspire young students, or you’re creating a presentation to a potential business investor. Practice unlocks your creativity.
“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…” Proverbs 23:7 KJV
What we put in our hearts and our minds will shape the output of what we produce. It’s crucial to practice daily habits that will foster your creativity. If you’re not feeding your writing, you’ll get sparse words back. If you starve your musical mind, you won’t be able to create melodies that move others.
Busyness is the enemy of creativity. When we turn off the opportunity for our brains to think or process, we stifle the growth of creativity that could be possible. Take time to try some of these ideas, and start filling the creative reservoir God gave you.
Fuel the Creativity:
- Read – books, magazines, blogs, quotes, etc.
- Exercise – Blood flow improves cognitive processes.
- Ask questions – Why is something like this? How could it be better? What could I do with these elements?
- Take a trip.
- Go to a store that inspires you, like a craft store (Don’t spend any money. Just get ideas!).
- Observe people at the mall.
- Go to the zoo, botanical gardens, park or lake.
- Go somewhere or do something you’ve never done before – horseback riding, archery, historical reenacting, etc.
- Serve others – feed the homeless, work at a women’s shelter, help at an orphanage or boys and girls home, etc.
- Volunteer – at an archaeology dig, in a lab, at a hospital, at a vet clinic, etc.
- Go on a police ride.
- Go on a mission trip.
- Volunteer at your child’s school.
- Volunteer at church – VBS, kids programs, media ministry, etc.
- Take a class/workshop – writing class, art class, pottery, cooking class, music lessons, dance class, astronomy class, etc.
- Go to the symphony or a play, recitals and broadway show.
- Go to a museum or observatory.
The key is to do something different. You never know when the inspiration will hit you when you open yourself up to new places and activities.
What ways have you found to fill up your creativity?
If you missed Part I, check it out here: Finding Your Creative Voice.