1. Saying things like “Me? I’m just not creative”
Ever said this, even just to yourself? We have this terrible tendency to label people as tall or short, blond or brunette, creative or not creative. And while there is a certain je ne sais quoi about some super creative people, we all have a bit of that fairy dust in us. Not buying it? Picture your three year old self playing as a child. Were you the one that loved colouring in? building crazy sand castle creations? Whatever it was, I guarantee there was something you did that was creative. And this my friend is the point. We grow up and we look for approval and applause to say we have done the right thing. And we learn to fit in. Which doesn’t exactly help us hold onto our creativity.
First of all you need to know that you do have at your core the capacity to be creative. You might just need to create some space to stop being so adult all the time! And accept that you are creative. Stop judging yourself or labelling and just dive in and have fun.
And if at all possible, have fun without any hope or attachment to the outcome.
It really doesn’t matter if your macaroons come out flat, what matters is that you got in there to make them and had a bit of fun.
Need a bit more of a nudge, even Harvard Business Review says if you think you are creative you are more likely to actually be creative. So get thinking! (you can read more about this here)
2. “I have no time”
When you are rushing and huffing and puffing to get through your to do list before you run out the door, creativity definitely isn’t going to feel like visiting. If you were inspiration, searching around for someone to bring forth your piece of wonder, would you chose that frantic person rushing around? Probably not! It really doesn’t seem like a path to success does it?
What can you do about it? Find a routine that works for you. Where in your day or week can you regularly carve out say 30 minutes to do something on your creative wish list? A lot of people find getting gup a bit earlier and doing this in the quiet of the morning is the best way (a lot of really creative and super productive people get us before the rest of us. So there has to be a bit of magic dust in there somewhere). Or maybe for you it’s when you get home, before making dinner and prior to sitting on the couch. If you are anything like me, the second your butt hits the couch at night all bets are off and nothing much will happen after that! Not you? I seriously want to know your secret.
Another way to think about this is reflect on when you get your best ideas. If you are like most people it’s in ‘down time’ like when you are in the shower, doing the dishes, driving to work, after meditating, during yoga. This isn’t accidental. Our brain needs a bit of quiet time to throw up these creative gems for us. So, find a way to be still. Even if just for a few minutes.
If you are stuck for an idea, go and do something banal and routine. I can almost guarantee you that inspiration will strike. As an aside, this also works for getting an answer to complex questions. Ask yourself the question, think about it a bit, then go do something else and / or sleep on it. Yes, this means that coffee break may be one of the best things you are do for your productivity!
I talk more about finding the time for your creative pursuit in this blog post here
3. “I don’t have what I need”
If I am honest I feel this one regularly. I don’t have that widget to be able to do that creative thing runs through my mind a lot. If this is you, my blog post on just starting where you are might be a good read, and can be found here. This is really an extravagant procrastination technique though. And often all we need to do is sit down, really think through what we need to achieve, create a list of things we think we need, consider alternatives, and get moving.
Even if that means you can’t do it today, what can you do today so you can do it tomorrow? What do you need to borrow? What can you shop your home for or place everything you
need together in a convenient place ready for you the next time you feel the creative urge?
Clutter is also a major killer here. If you honestly don’t know what you have, then it might be time to have a big spring clean. Get rid of things you don’t need or haven’t touched and organise the rest so it’s on hand when you need it. If you are after some decluttering inspiration I love The Life Changing Art of Tidying Up.
4. I’m not good enough.
First of all, who says? Second of all, why do you have to be ‘good’?
Our tendency to compare our experiments and ‘failures’ with everyone else’s beautifully curated and photo shopped social media feed can be crippling. So first of all, put the phone away. Second of all, stop thinking about being like anyone else. Most of all, you either are that good or you most certainly can be.
One the of the big game changing moments here for me came when I was reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘Outliers’. Outliers is all about those people that are at the top of their game. And how they got there. Now, there are a whole range of factors at play, but the one I really want to focus on is ‘10,000 hours’. Essentially, research shows that to be world class at something (yes, even that creative pursuit) takes 10,000 hours of focussed practice.
Now, stick with me! This doesn’t mean you needed to start when you were 2 years old. Because the magic also happens on the way to 10,000 hours. For each hour of focussed practice there is an equal increase in ability or skill.
This means all you need to do, is more of what you want to be better at. With energy, focus and regularity you will eventually become amazingly fabulous at it. Every moment you spend having fun with your creative pursuit is going into that bank account. This my friend is why writers write and painters paint.
So the one thing you can do right now to be fabulously good? Put in some focussed practice. And we can all do that!
When all is said and done I think a few of the above points come down to this. Essentially we are a little (or a lot) fearful of something. Whether its failing (best way to learn ever!), not being as good as someone else, being ridiculed or having someone important to us marginalise our efforts. Fear is a very strong influence in our lives. If it wasn’t we wouldn’t celebrate courage so much. And you are most definitely capable of being courageous.
But why can’t you get your creative mojo happening when fear is in the way, even if you show up and try? It’s just the way we are wired. When we sense threat our brains naturally close down our focus. We stop thinking about possibility, we stop looking at alternatives. And this is definitely not conducive to creativity! Very handy for survival though.
What to do? Stop rushing and stressing. Rather, show up, be calm, visualise success and take a few deep breaths in the quiet. And then gently start on your way.
If you knew you would be world class amazing at something, what would you be doing right now, this very second?
Now go do it!