…finding a way to encourage creativity back to the table, when it would rather be holidaying in the Caribbean with a pineapple mocktail in hand and a floral lei round its neck, is so important.
If you are anything like me, then around this time every January you hit a bit of a wobble. Not necessarily complete overwhelm, but that slightly unsettled feeling that goes hand-in-hand with imposter syndrome (doubting your abilities), tiredness, and a disheartening realisation that you’ve got a long to-do list to get through before you can reach those new year’s goals! The kinds of thoughts and feelings that don’t always lend themselves to creativity – which can be somewhat of an issue when your work relies heavily on creative ideas and tasks. There is a little trick, however, and quite an obvious one at that (though, that’s not to say it’s easy). ‘What is this magically-simplistic-but-takes-some-perseverance-to-implement tactic?’ I hear you ask. Well – if you’ve fallen into a slump, then making time for creativity will improve your creative business. Ta-da! I told you it was simple. Okay, let me explain…
The amazing ripple that is creativity
We’ve heard it all before, but the more you exercise those creative muscles, the more your creativity grows. Engaging in creative activities stimulates that part of the brain (or so I’m guessing…I mean, I’m not a neurologist – but it makes sense, right?). It must be the equivalent of someone waiving your favourite biscuit under your nose. It sparks your interest and makes you take action (in the case of the biscuit, that action would be – to eat it!).
If you are a creative person, and by that, I mean someone who not only loves creating but someone who feels a ‘need’ to create – then being creative will instantly lift your mood. In turn it will trigger more creative ideas, which you’ll then want to create – inspiring even more creativity…and so the wonderful ripple of creativity begins.
How can you be creative when you don’t feel creative?
I know, it sounds like an impossible situation – to be creative when you don’t feel creative…but stay with me. Creativity can’t be forced. Well, actually, that’s not entirely true. Creativity can be forced, but the results aren’t likely to be your best. Instead, you have to make time for creativity.
Making time for creativity means giving yourself the opportunity to do what brings you joy and, if it’s part of your work, what you’re good at. It means recognising when the balance is off, not beating yourself up for a lack of ideas or inspiration, and purposefully allowing your mind the space it needs.
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of expecting our creativity to deliver. When, in reality, it takes time and patience to develop the skill of making those juices flow on cue. Making time for creativity doesn’t mean forgetting your responsibilities or work deadlines – far from it. It means setting yourself up for the best chance of achieving the desired outcome, and to schedule.
It can feel counterproductive to set aside extra time for creativity when you aren’t ‘feeling it’, especially if you have a growing list of tasks and you’re stressed about getting everything done. However, the opposite is true. Making time for creativity will improve your creative business.
Setting aside time in your week or month to do something creative outside of work can trigger that creative ripple. Maybe there’s a project you’ve been wanting to create for months, or a hobby you’ve not made time to enjoy for a while (you could even try one of my creative lifestyle projects). Creativity in your personal life doesn’t have to have the same constraints as work projects, and that really helps the creative muscle relax.
Moving any negotiable and mind-numbing tasks from your workday (which can wait until another week) can give you more space to let a client project flourish. Take an extra hour or two to browse inspiring images, put together a mood board, make notes, or just see where the time takes you. It doesn’t have to be something you ever show the client, if you don’t want to, but your work will be all the better for it.
Encouraging creativity back to the table
I’m very thankful that over recent years I’ve learnt to notice little shifts in myself. Shifts that suggest I’m feeling a bit drained or under pressure. That’s when I know I need to look at my diary and make more time for creativity. In the last couple of weeks those signs started appearing. So, not wanting to impact the quality of my work, I followed my own advice. I blocked out extra time for my current client projects and less for admin that isn’t necessary right now. I’m also scheduling in some creative time, just for fun, next week.
There’s no point pretending creativity always flows on tap – it’s just not true. It’s also unsustainable (in most strategies) to run a creative business where you only work when you feel like it. Therefore, finding a way to encourage creativity back to the table, when it would rather be holidaying in the Caribbean with a pineapple mocktail in hand and a floral lei round its neck, is so important. This little trick isn’t about instant strikes of genius or magical results but making time for creativity will (with patience and practice) improve your creative business.