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.”
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?
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.
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!