I think about this quite often.
The reality is that on any given day, I'm working on such a diversity of projects with such a great group of clients that my creative self has to flip a switch at a moment's notice. One moment I'm writing an annual appeal letter for a nonprofit that serves an immediate need in a community, and then the next I'm designing artwork for a show that explores the inner turmoil in a family, and then the next I'm working on a media pitch about a family foundation.
It takes some serious brain power. I'll fully own that I run on coffee... and the good work of the people we partner with. But I have also come to learn, and accept for myself, that there are other things this Numad must do to allow my creativity and ingenuity to spring forth (especially on rainy days like today when I'll hole myself up in the home office and not take 10 minutes to take a walk around our neighborhood).
So, what feeds creativity?
Perhaps the question is also on my mind, in part, thanks to a conversation I had earlier this week with Authentically Amy, a friend from undergraduate at St. Ambrose University who is working on taking something she is personally passionate about and moving it forward in bigger and greater ways (you go, Amy!).
For me, creativity is something that I hold close, as it is possibly the one thing that I feel confidently I can go to when I have a problem to solve or need some inspiration to move through work, or through life. I also differentiate it from inspiration. Inspiration is something that is easier to find. It's truly everywhere, especially in the work I get to participate in with nonprofits all across this country.
I've learned there isn't one way to increase my own personal creativity, but there are certain things I can do on an hourly or daily basis that will most certainly feed it. Here's a few things I try:
- Showing off. Okay, not literally. I try to be a humble person, but I also do love sharing the work we do with others. It is a way for me to get feedback, think of different ways to do something, or ways to do something better. One easy way we do this is by sharing some of our work on our Instagram page which, if you don't follow us, you should.
- Release the energy. I've become quite a fan, recently, of spin classes. Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays that is where you'll find me in the evenings. Sometimes it is my way of ending the work day, offering time to think and release any tension I may have allowed into my body on a given day. Oftentimes these days with later hours the norm (there's too much exciting stuff happening!) it is my way to think of new ideas to go back and work on in the evening.
- Listen to Hamilton. Or Sara Bareillis. Or whatever artist makes you happy. Investing in my $9.99 per month Spotify account has been one of the best things I've ever done. Working from home with no one around between the hours of 8am and 6pm, I blast music during my writing or design sessions. Sometimes a simple melody or a poignant lyric can instigate my creativity in an unexpected way.
- Find a peaceful place. My home office is peaceful (it is pictured above). I'll even call it beautiful. That's because it is uniquely me... always in order (you won't anything on my desk but a notebook, coffee mug and my computer), soothing colors on the wall, and filled with things most often created by other people. When I'm in my office, I feel calm (most of the time). That allows space for creativity.
- Never underestimate the power of the Sharpie. In my single desk drawer of my little writer's desk is a Sharpie that I pull out and sketch with whenever I'm feeling stuck. The act of a marker and a blank canvas and nothing else provides a welcome reprieve from the computer and the possibility of something new.
- Babies on Skype. I have some pretty great nieces and nephews, and friends who have young kids too who graciously call me Uncle Ted too. We don't have kids, but these little ones are a good reminder about why we do what we do, and that there really isn't a limit to what's possible. My sister is particularly great about getting one-year-old Henry on Skype to goo and gah with Uncle Ted for a few minutes. It fills my heart, and my creativity. Try it some time.
I'm curious what feeds your creativity. Don't be shy or bashful... share below so we can all consider ways to lead our best creative lives.