Insert Creative Title: Flipping the Switch on Creativity

May 13, 2020

I’m struggling. Anyone else? I’m also surprised I'm struggling as a seasoned pro at remote working, juggling a litter of children (both furry and human), and keeping things moving. I’ve been doing my best to show up for our clients and my teammates, care for my family and friends, and take time for myself along the way. I’ve also tested ALL the tips to stay productive. Yet, this is my first pandemic, so it’s no surprise that my energy, focus and creativity are taking a hit. 

In a recent webinar hosted by achieve Engagement, I learned that some very real risks of our current COVID reality are a loss of collaboration, innovation and creativity, not a loss of productivity. Obviously, productivity will dip because everyone is juggling far more at home. However, in an effort to get more done with less time and less focus, we might not be looping in the right people or pushing for the most creative solutions. Yikes!

And Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic, recently reminded me:

“Creativity best thrives in an environment that is soft and gentle and as peaceful as it can be. And what’s going on in the world, feels to be the opposite of that.”

So what can I do to get that elusive creative magic flowing again? With luck, Brilliant Ink’s resident creativity expert, Claire Stuart, was available to talk about just that. 

Why is creativity important for people who aren’t designers/artists/ super-cool-people like you?

Creativity is good for the soul. When you create something, you’re using your imagination and critical thinking, and it’s firing up your brain in new ways. That same energy carries over to the work you do and how you show up in your relationships.

If someone, me, tells you their creativity is broken, what advice would you have?

Creativity is tricky because you can’t just decide it’s time to create. If I’m having trouble, I usually try one of three techniques:

  • I take a break. I go for a walk and listen to a podcast (like Unlocking Us or Absolutely Not), or I sit outside and read a book for a bit, then come back to it. 
  • I find something to redo. I like to shake up my home office a lot.
  • I go back to the basics. Instead of staring at a blank screen, I’ll switch to pen and paper to sketch something out.
What can we do in our workspaces to shake them up?

Oh! So many things! New notebooks really get me going. There is nothing like a good, thick piece of paper and my favorite pen to get me jazzed. I like to bring new plant babies into my workspace or rotate the ones I already have. I often rearrange my office to get a new point of view and maximize natural light. And I like to light a candle or turn on music to shift the energy.

What about other sources of inspiration? Anything we should try or check out?

If I’m looking for inspiration for something specific, I love to look at Dribbble, a design web community where people share work and showcase their skills. I also like to check out Pinterest to see designs and visual inspiration. There is so much on Pinterest — it’s more than KETO recipes and DIY bathroom remodels. Lastly, I love to follow inspiring accounts on Instagram. I have a separate account where I only follow artists, local shops, makers and designers. When those are the only folks you follow and engage with, the algorithm adjusts and suggests new sources of inspiration.

Are there any creativity-boosting exercises you recommend, aside from cutting and/or dying your own hair?

I definitely cut my hair already. You know, it’s interesting. Some people create a plan to journal or sketch for 30 minutes a day, but that’s not how my brain works. Sometimes when I’m painting and it’s not coming together, I don’t force it. 

Creativity isn’t a switch you can flip. When the power is out, don’t stand there, flipping the switch on and off. Go do something else, use your brain in a different way, and come back once the power is on. 

Moral of the story? 

Creativity can be added to the list of “Things Not Entirely in Our Control.” However, there are a lot of little things we can do to stack the deck in our favor. And if you see me with purple hair, you know why. 

For even more ideas for recharging your creativity, be sure to read Claire’s post “Brilliant Inspo: Reigniting Your Creativity.” Want more bite-sized brilliance? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, the Inkwell, and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter!

Sara Forner Howland

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