How to Have a Creativity Day - Christine Kane

In my pre-teen days, one of my favorite magazines featured an article about how to have a “Marvelous Me Day.” Looking back, I think it was designed to build self-esteem. At the time, I loved the idea. The pictures made it look so exciting to style my hair and do face masks and jot things down in my diary.

The reality – as often happens – wasn’t nearly as cool as the idea.

For one thing, it rained that day. For another, my mom kept yelling at me to pick up my room. Then, my sister was in the bathroom with the door locked most of the afternoon. And jotting lists in my diary wasn’t really my style.

I ended up feeling less than Marvelous, actually.

This memory appeared when my friend Gina told me that she wanted to start having a “Creativity Day” once a week. She wanted to get in touch with her Creativity and allow space for that to blossom.

It’s a great intention, no?

Only problem is that when we set out to be Creative (with a capital C), the pressure is on. It’s like demanding that we “Feel Spiritual” each time we sit down to meditate. (Or “Marvelous” because of an herbal face mask!)

So, my friend asked me if I had any thoughts about what she should do during her “Creativity Day.”

I did.

Here they are…

Creativity Day Tip #1: Lose the Capital “C”

I capitalize Creativity a lot – because it’s the name of my weekly eZine and my blog. But it’s not a word that needs a capital C.

That’s because Creativity is our natural state. It’s not a Holiday. Or a proper noun.

In fact, creativity is simple, even boring in its silent uneventful-ness. Trying to catch it in a day is a lot like trying to get my cat Billie to come to me when I’m holding the nail clippers.

Creativity Day Tip #2: Think HOUR. Not DAY.

Much as I love the boldness of “Creativity Day,” I suggest starting small. “Creativity Hour” is good.

Again, it’s about the pressure.

If you’re longing to experience the simple pleasure of creativity, then “Creativity Day” is requiring a lot. Especially if you’re a little bit unsure.

In fact, it’s a lot like looking at your husband on Valentines Day morning and saying: “Tonight, we need to have the best sex we’ve EVER had in our entire lives!”

Am I saying it’s all about what you TELL YOURSELF about creativity?

Kinda.

I joke with my clients that doing ANYTHING well is a lot about tricking your ego.

So, in the same way you might experience more sexual wonderment with your husband if you say, “I’m thinking pizza and the Tarheels game tonight,” you’ll also have better luck with your creativity if you say, “Let’s just try this for an hour.”

Creativity Day Tip #3: Define the Activity.

When I asked my friend what she was going to do on her Creativity Day, she said, “I was just going to see what I felt “inspired” to do.”

(Pause for a deep breath.)

Okay, that’s fine.

That works.

Sometimes.

But when you’re tapping into the flow of creativity – it will probably be easier on you if you DEFINE an activity in advance.

I told my friend that I had lots of ways of experiencing creativity: songwriting, collage, blogging – even the work in my business feels creative! But rarely do I just let “inspiration” guide me. I used to try that with songwriting, and I would jump from song to song to song and never get very deep – because I was waiting for inspiration. I would also lose focus and eventually end up mindlessly eating junk food.

My experience is that creativity begins to flow when you define your activity first.

Gina told me that she LOVES collage. She also loves giving to her friends. So, I suggested that she begin collaging postcards or greeting cards.

A defined activity will help her enter that hour with a starting point. The piece or purpose might change, for sure.
But as the saying goes: You can’t correct course if you’re not moving.

Creativity Day Tip #4: Set a Timer.

(My apologies to those people who think Creativity comes fully equipped with angel wings and fairy dust.)

Use your iPhone timer. Use the clunky timer that’s stuffed in the back of your kitchen junk drawer. It matters not.

When you set a timer, it’s not about saying “Ready Set Go!” It’s about creating a habit. And the timer tells the ego, “This is our defined time. You can just sit back and be quiet because the next hour is Creativity Hour. Hush up.”

I use a timer for all of my creative activities. It keeps the focus strong. And it lets me know there’s an end point.

Creativity Day Tip #5: Your Habits Create Creativity.

Confession: I’ve released seven CD’s and a DVD. I’ve written hundreds of songs, over 500 blogs and articles, and have countless journals and collage collections…

…and I rarely “feel” creative.

That’s because it’s more about my habits and my actions than about “feeling” it. When I first started writing songs, I felt a lot like Gina. It was a Big Deal. It was SONGWRITING and CREATIVITY with capital letters. (And exclamation points!)

But I started using a timer. And I started showing up song by song, I became aware of this thing that always exists.

It always exists in you too.

Your job is to remove the ego gunk – the pressure and perfectionism that blocks it. Your job is to show up. Your job is to not require that it be bigger than it needs to be!

27 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • Jen Adams

    This is such a perfect post for what I am going through right now. For the first time, I actually listed the things I want to accomplish this year. Actually, I did not only list them, I created a new blog for them (thejenadamsproject.blogspot.com) to give me more push so that for once, I will be able to accomplish all of my new year’s resolutions which mostly involve creative work.

    And you’re right. Being creative, is not just waiting for inspiration to strike. It has something to do with routines too..something that I wish to accomplish/incorporate in my lifestyle before this year ends.

    Thanks for this wonderful post!

  • cindi

    as always… perfect timing! just what I needed to hear!
    thank you for sharing ❤

  • Nomalizo

    Hi Christine. I’m so glad I came across your blog (quite by chance). So here I am, sitting in front of my computer and reading your posts, all the way in South Africa, and I cannot get over just how I SO GET YOU, in everything I have read. Thank you. Thank you for such wonderful posts, thank you for your wisdom and authenticity. I so appreciate you sharing all that you share. May you be blessed a million times over.
    With deep gratitude, Nomalizo

  • Wendi Kelly~Life’s Little Inspirations

    What good reminders, and…what perfect timing as I hit the end of another swooshy fast month looking at all of the creative endeavors I wanted to tackle and never touched. I can easily slip into the “I don’t have time for this” because I don’t have a block of hours to chisel out. Baby, baby baby steps, baby moments! Stolen moments if need be. They are there. I just have to condition myself to create the habits and discipline to make it happen.

  • Deanne

    You always have such delightful insightful nuggets to share. Thanks

  • Cilente

    Thanks for sharing this excellent post! Our members at artsbowl.com would be very interested in reading your tips on creativity. We’re always on the lookout for new contributing members if you’re interested.
    Kind regards, Cilente

  • Julie Thompson

    Great post, Christine! My work load demands creativity 5-6 days a week and so several hours a day are devoted to studio time. I’ve learned that I can bring about the right mindset for creativity through isolation from the rest of the household, and stimulating the other senses. Some great music playing is a necessity for me! Add in a fragrant candle or incense, and a nice cup of tea… and I’m ready to work. 🙂

  • kathleen

    Thanks Christine, you always manage to put into words exactly what we need to hear and you do it with such humour and clarity!!
    The thing I’ve discovered with creativity is that for me, its more about the process and less about the end result…and that has taken so much pressure off – I LOVE the act of creating (usually writing sometimes cooking, other times photographing) that feeling of connection to source, that ‘flow’ – and sometimes I produce something wonderful, and other times I don’t (or I don’t THINK so)…but I’ve learnt to keep doing because the end result is secondary to the joy I experience while creating.
    x

  • Damaris

    Good advice, Christine. Somehow we take appointments with others more seriously than those with ourselves. Creative time warrants commitment, getting ready and follow through, as well as saying NO to anything that may jeopardize it.
    Blessings and Gratitude,
    Damaris

  • Susan Daffron

    Christine…I finally figured I should get outta blurk mode and say that like so many of your articles, I love this 😉

    I agree that most of the time I don’t “feel creative” either. Yet I’ve written and published 10 books. I wrote an article for my newsletter not too long ago called “Moods are for Cattle, Not Writing” which pointed out sometimes you just have to start writing something (anything) to get the creative juices flowing. (If I only wrote stuff when I actually felt like it, I’d never write anything!)

    You don’t know this, but I often stop by your blog when I need a little inspiration and encouragement. So a belated “thank you” for being there!

    – Susan

  • Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo

    Thanks for the reminder, again, that it’s all about habits. Feeling like it often only comes when you’re already doing it. Thanks Christine!

  • Mindful Mimi

    Christine,
    This is so true. I have my Tuesday afternoons to be creative. I often just end up blogging (oh yeah, that is creativity too, thanks for reminding me), surfing the net and eating cookies…
    And since I’m a seven, I now want to start collaging cards for my friends 🙂
    I agree it’s all about small doses. Yesterday I fiddled with a painting, Tuesday I wrote a post and wrote down first dafts for an activity charter and questionnaire for my charity project (now callled interAct).
    I didn’t feel like I accomplished muchn or that Ihad been creative. But later I gave myself credit. It WAS creative.
    Thanks for the reminder. And I should try the timer.
    Hope your dad is well.
    Mimi

  • Kirsty Hall

    Right, I’m closing this page & Twitter, then I’m setting my timer for 30 minutes, opening WordPress and starting to write that long overdue blog post.

  • Laura

    Great reminder that creativity is not something you do, it’s who you are. I smile when people comment about how creative I am, when like you, I don’t feel creative. Hey — I don’t even write songs, poetry or play the guitar like you “cool, creative” chicks.;-) What I like about your motto, “Live Creative,” is that it suggests that living creatively is the opposite of living reactively, and is even more authentic than living “proactively.” We are all meant to create.

  • Carina

    Thank you for this post. It is a very good reminder that it is better to do a little than be overwhelmed by the desire/pressure to do lots. Even the longest journey starts with that first step… 🙂

  • Kathy Troidle Jackson

    Ah yes – “Your job is to remove the ego gunk – the pressure and perfectionism that blocks it. Your job is to show up.” This goes along with what I learned when I LISTENed this week and what I worked through with my weight loss coach, Tonya Leigh Williams, as I fought the resistance to sign up at a gym. My ego was telling me that people would judge me. When really it was me judging me. I just needed to show up there. Walk in. Get a flyer. See that it doesn’t smell and isn’t crowded with sweaty people outshining me on those weight loss machines. And when I removed that resistance, that energy leak, I found all the time in the world to be creative. To write blog posts, leave thoughtful comments on other blogs, and add to my collection of White Dog Haikus. Even to bring my creativity to work and create the presentations I need for my planning sessions next week.

    p.s. it means so much to me that you would take the time to read and write on MY blog. You do so much for so many yet still make the time to show your peeps that you are there for them no matter what is going on in your own life. You never cease to inspire. Thanks again Christine. You rock!

  • Charlotte Rains Dixon

    Just this morning, I was telling a friend how I had not yet had a chance to use all the acrylic paints I got for Christmas. And, I’ve been thinking that I needed a whole day to do it….but of course, I know better than that. An hour will do! With writing, I can get a lot done in just a few minutes, because I’m so used to it. Being creative in a different field is much more intimidating! But I am going to find an hour sometime this week to dive in.

  • Anna

    I really appreciate this, because I started reading it thinking, creativity DAY, must be nice to have that kind of time …

    … jealous much?

    But I ended up thinking, I have an HOUR … I can carve out an hour every week to do the things that I love, that feed my soul, that take me where I want to be …

  • kelly

    Perfect timing! I set aside today as a “Creativity Day” and in doing so, effectively shutting it down before beginning. It’s 11:30 and I’ve been wandering about the house all morning- bumping in to things to do. I’m going to find the kitchen timer right now and start again… this time, for an hour… of collage. Wish me luck! Thank you, Christine – and a deep bow.

  • Ulla Hennig

    I like your creativity day tip #3: define the activity, and your advice to begin with a creative hour. For me those creative hours are the hours of writing blog posts or creating squidoo webpages (or doing weird things with photoshop!)

  • sarah seidelmann

    LOVE THIS!! Discovered you a mnoth ago- thank you! I find I can get orwhleemed as I dive into a project and love the idea of a timer- there is a limit (whch is good because otherwise I might not come up for air for 28 hours and them- well I am exhausted and may avoid creativity for a while!) Love the analogy with the pressure of great sex! Like sex- I guess creativity can be scheduled and making sure you get a little bit more often is sooooo much better than waiting for the angel wings to tickle your fancy! I love how your brain works!

  • Helen

    Wow! I’ve needed to hear the last paragraph of this piece for so many years. I’m going to paste it above my desk and read it every day! Thank you.

  • Lorraine

    I find that creativity needs thinking time, away from distractions. I come up with some of my best ideas while walking my dog. My daughter finds her morning workout gives her brain time to roam free.

  • cynthia

    wow, I really like the cat nail clippers example. And Valentine’s Day.
    This post has very helpful ideas. I always get hung up on the capital C thing.