Tuesday, May 27, 2008

How to Get Your Creative Mojo Back

Oh, it gets tough, sometimes. Tough to be creative.

Maybe it's because I spent so long not being creative. Maybe it's because my life got so caught up with moving and being a mom and changing my life around.

Sometimes I lose my creativity through fear and indecision.

Sometimes I stop being creativity because of good things. Wonderful celebrations, holidays, visiting friends and family, projects.

Sometimes I just get stuck in the routine of everyday living. If I let it, the grind of the To Do, geared to doing what I have to do to keep everybody going and the bills paid and the piles of laundry at bay, can take over the deeper but often less pressing need to be creative.

When I'm not feeling creative, it's worth my ocean of tears to get me to do all that work to get the gears grinding again. But the thing is, I really want to do it. I want to be creative. I have a deep seated and well established desire to be creative. I just have to get the creative muscles exercised enough to be able to live up to the desire... and overcome the resistance.

I have some tricks though. This is what happens when you have gone through the resistance and come out the other side enough times, you develop a strategies. I'm sure every creative type has them, because it is the nature of creativity to have struggles.

One of my favorite tricks is to give myself assignments.

That is what I did with my self challenge; saying I would write a page a day in my novel or give up chocolate. When you challenge yourself, though, make sure that you have realistic goals, that they are set within a time frame, that you can know when you have reached them-- and so my goal was only for a month's time, and I'm not giving up chocolate forever, but only one day of chocolate for every day of writing missed, because otherwise, I would feel like I had failed after that first hard day. Don't do that. Allow yourself the perfection of your process, and some backsliding, too. And make sure you can see your own progress towards your goal. Keep a log of your word count, or the time you spent practicing your moves. Take photographs of the development of your painting. If you can, make yourself accountable to someone else, an online buddy, your partner, a girlfriend. Live up to your self assignment, but don't be brutal to yourself.

Another thing that is a great exercise to get through my rough patches is to give myself a theme to explore. I have done this with broken heart poems, (can you guess what caused my hiatus from creating with that one?) or with paintings, drawings and collages based around the outline of my hand. That's right, the same activity that kindergardeners get, but one done with the artistic sensibilities of an adult. I have also tried drawing pictures based on my children's day, whatever they have done or said or experienced that day. Another theme was to sketch whatever I saw when I sat down with my journal.

If I am trying to get into a novel or a story that has been neglected, one fun activity is to do character interviews. You ask the characters questions, and then let them answer. This always surprises me. My characters always reveal things I did not know about them. How does it work? I don't know. I only know that the mind is a wild and fertile jungle.

One good way to kick start your creativity is to join a class... or even better, teach one. I know that isn't always realistic, but teaching teenagers about poetry or essays or drawing or what have you has always gotten some great [whatever I was teaching] out of me. Barring teaching, join a class or a group where everyone is doing and talking about and thinking about creating. Community is a great help for great endeavors. And being creative when you are starting out stuck is a great endeavor.

Morning pages, (the assignment from The Artist's Way where you write three pages as soon as you wake up in the morning,) can also serve to get those creative juices going. The more you are thinking about what you want to create, the more it starts to come alive. It doesn't have to be morning pages, either. Any journal writing can really serve this purpose. I have one caveat though: Do try not to spend all your time writing about how you can't write. I have spent SOOO many years filling journal upon journal with all the whys and wherefores of my creative blocks, thus expending all my energy on NOT WRITING, and very little on actually writing. Remember the law of attraction... spend all your focus on how you can't write, and it will be a self fulfilling prophecy. Spend all of your focus on what you are about to write next, and the words will come, oh yes they will.

Pick an inspiring book and go to it. Let the words of one of your favorite authors or non fiction writers or poets inspire your creativity. Or peruse the art of your hero-artist. Or spend some time with whatever artwork really fires you up. Sometimes watching Amadeus does it for me. Or sometimes I will read Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott. I love that book. Or playing some Joni Mitchell gets me in a watery, creative frame of mind. Pay attention to the things that get your inspiration going and then use those to trigger your creativity.

What are your triggers? What are your tricks for getting the creativity flowing again?


Natasha said...

Hey there - did you take that picture on your site?? The new header photo? It's such fun colors...I love it! It makes me think of Spring and Japanese gardens.

I loved the suggestions you gave to get your creatiev juices flowing and jump into the work! PUH-lease don't even mention all the journal pages I've filled with, "I want to write." Like Nike says, "JUST DO IT!" That's what I shout at myself now. Journaling is amazing though.

I am an avid people watcher so I like to watch people and then imagine what they are thinking or wonder about where they just came from or where they are going.

Bird by Bird Rocks! Anne Lamott is amazing - have you read Grace Eventually?

Rowena said...

Yes, the picture is mine. It's an avocado tree just leafing out. It reminds me of the VanGogh painting, what was it? Peach Blossoms?

All those "why can't I write?" twiddlings don't actually help you write, they reinforce your not being able to write. When I find myself doing that, I switch gears to a "what do I need to do next" line of questioning.

Is Grace Eventually a novel by Lamott?

Natasha said...

Hey there,

It's good that you switch gears and take yourself to the next step...I believe all good things have to start with a little floundering...look at tadpoles...

Van Gogh - I know what you are talking about but cannot think of the name...my favorite is Cafe Terrace at Night...

Grace Eventually is a collection of her essays on religion...I'm not a religious fanatic but like to think about what may be out there in the Universe that's bigger than us...it's just another thought-provokling book by her

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