Staying Stylish in Suburbia

5 ways to stimulate creativity

Thursday, July 18, 2013

I wish I could say that my creativity was a rushing river that never slowed or became shallow. That would be a lie though. It's more like a ditch that fills up to the brim during a good rain and then dries out again with frequent short lived mud cracking droughts. During a dry spell I'm always gestating though, even if I'm not actively creating. As frustrating as these lapses in innovation can be I've come to recognize them as another part of my personal process. While some artist/writers advocate the method of continued work no matter what (keep writing or painting even if it's garbage until you get back on track.) I've always found that a break in activity gives me time to replenish, taking a step back to gain clarity and perspective. When my husband asks how a project is coming along and I tell him I'm gestating he knows exactly what I mean. I mean that I am quietly accumulating, growing, swelling until I am able push something inspired out into the world again. Allowing the storm clouds to gather so to speak.



American author, Jack London, said that, "You can't wait for creativity, you have to go after it with a club."I take a slightly less aggressive approach but the basic ideas is the same. Meaning that there are certain things I know I can do to help stimulate the creative process. Not everything works all the time but I've learned to switch it up and to be patient with myself.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to get things going. A creative rain dance if you will.

1. Daydream 

And yes, you do have time. One of my favorite writers, Ann Patchett, talks about getting out of school and landing a dead end restaurant job. But instead of giving up while wiping down tables she used the time to develop the characters and plot in her very first novel. I've had similar experiences at bad jobs where it was precisely because I felt so stifled that my creativity suddenly kicked in. I would take my notebook with me during lunch breaks and write my heart out.

2. Read, read, read...

Poetry, novels and especially memoirs seem to help me tremendously.

3. Sleep and pay attention to your dreams

I have been totally stalled in my writing or with an art project until I went to sleep and dreamt up the perfect solution. Keep a notebook beside your bed and listen to your subconscious.
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4. Switch up your playlist 

Music is another great stimulant. Finding new music often triggers my imagination, inspiring me to create.

5. Get out of your comfort zone

This can be anything from eating at a new restaurant or taking a new class, to hiking somewhere different or traveling to another state, city or country. In other words take yourself out of your normal comfort zone. Get out of the house. Observe. Look at things from a different angles. And always bring your camera or your notebook along.

What about you? What helps you get back into the creative swing of things?

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