Creativity is a Drug

CBD creativity quote

I planned to start this essay by saying that creativity is like oxygen.  But it’s not really like oxygen.  Creativity is not actually necessary to live from a physical standpoint, but it’s hard to imagine a rich and fulfilled life without it.

So I think Cecil has it right. Creativity is like a drug one cannot live without. Once you begin to experience the pleasures of it, you can’t imagine not having it in your life daily.

(In my mind, I’m pronouncing his name Seh-suhl like the character Cecil Terwilliger from The Simpsons, not See-suhl, the way it’s usually pronounced. I feel like that works better here. But I digress.)

Creativity is also like a muscle that must be used daily or it will atrophy. 

I created a “commandments” list a couple of years ago, ala Gretchen Rubin from The Happiness Project and on it I wrote “do something every day to make myself happy,” which for me more often than not means a creative project of some kind – writing, brainstorming ideas for articles and essays, cooking a fabulous meal, rearranging a corner of my apartment, capturing images with my iPhone, freeform daydreaming, and so on. 

For many months I didn’t practice creativity daily in any real way. This was when I was working a couple of part-time jobs while getting my freelance writing business off the ground.  All my writing at that time was for clients; I didn’t write for myself daily like I do now. Instead I worried daily. Fretted. Felt myself pulled daily further and further into the mesmerizing undertow of living below what my true inspiration called me to do.

I was not happy and fulfilled in my work then. But happiness is a choice, so looking back, I can see that I participated in my unhappiness by buying into the false notion that creative fulfillment is something “over there,” something that has to be put off until all one’s other ducks are gotten in a row. If you know what I mean, and I think you do.

As long as I believed that creative fulfillment was something that was unavailable to me while I was slogging away writing what I didn’t want to write and doing work I didn’t necessarily love to do, then that’s where it would stay – “over there.”

But the truth is, there are ways to assure you get your daily creativity fix, even if it’s in small doses. If you’re a writer, you write. If you’re a photographer, you make beautiful images. If you’re a painter, you paint. And so on.

So I started writing for myself for 30 minutes daily, longer on weekends. Writing that had nothing to do with client work, and nothing to do with blogging for my writing business website or weekly newsletter either. I simply opened up a Word doc in June of 2013 and started “journaling” there daily.  Then later, I began writing in a physical journal again, writing my way through one journal, then another, then another after that.

And that practice is what pulled me out of my creative cul-de-sac. It’s an ongoing project, this trying to make more space in my life daily for unfettered creative practice, and sometimes it takes a back seat to client work, or marketing my business, or those boring but necessary admin tasks one must do each day to keep the wheels on the bus going round and round.

But what I notice is that if I’m not committed to accessing that well daily, the sometimes elusive substance known as creativity will shrivel, or evaporate altogether, and I’ll be staring into the abyss of the “mehs” once again.

What about you? How do you make space in your life for the creative work that fires you up? I’d love to hear how you make your creative practice a priority. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

 

 

Comments

  1. Another thing to do besides creating, observe all the creativity that happens around you. Consider the variety of hubcaps. Someone designs them for their efficiency, their look and ease of use.
    Look at all those headlines and subject lines that come at you daily. What grabs your attention enough for you to say, ” Now that is effective!”
    Make space in your daily passage to grab onto those creative ideas others have sparked so you can recognize true creativity. Pay attention.
    I promised myself years ago that if I had an idea, I had to follow through and see what turned up.
    My job is all about creativity. I have to pay attention to all cylinders that spark. I jot down ideas, creative thingies I see. Harvest ideas.
    This promise fulfilled has made me do the work, increasing my creativity and abilities, firing up more ideas.
    Want to be creative, work at it.

    A great manifesto to keep handy is: http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/manifesto-Bruce-Mau.pdf

    Keep pushing the envelop Kim,

    Merry

    • Hi Merry, thanks for stopping by to comment!

      I agree that observing the creativity around us can help break us out of the creative doldrums. I too jot down ideas and observations on things that move and inspire me. I keep a little notebook with me specifically for this purpose. As you mention, it’s important to pay attention and practice awareness, and be open to the creativity that is all around us, even in the most unlikely places.

      Thanks for the link to the PDF, I’ll check it out!

  2. I am an artist – an abstract painter to be specific. I find that when I honor my studio time regardless if “feel like it” or not I become immersed in creating/painting. I put on some jazz music, get my paints ready, my smock on and then begin dabbling. Within a few minutes the creative spark has ignited! Before you know it hours have passed. I have learned to honor myself, my time and my creativity. There will always be other things/people who want your time but without filling the well you will run dry. Fill up so you can spill over.

    • I love this, Jane! Honoring your daily creative output whether you feel like or not is so adult and responsible, and it’s the way the work gets done. I’ve had the very same experience on days when I don’t feel like writing — I sit at the desk and just start, and then, as you say, “the creative spark ignites.” 🙂

      This is beautiful: “There will always be other things/people who want your time but without filling the well you will run dry. Fill up so you can spill over.” Thanks so much for sharing this wise insight!

  3. I’m a multi-passionate creative, so when I was working full time with fatigue from chronic pain, I was miserable because I didn’t have the energy to create. I started stealing a moment here and there and it helped a lot. Nowadays, I create in some way every single day. Whether it’s doing my art or writing a blog post.

    • Hi Linda,

      Thanks for stopping by to comment!

      I understand what you mean about feeling miserable when you don’t have the energy to create. I was having a discussion about that same topic with a friend a few months ago, when for many weeks, due to loads of client work and some other life factors, I wasn’t able to devote time to my own writing. Then I realized if it was important to me and I made it a priority, I could find some time each day to work on my own creative projects, even if it was only for 20-30 minutes. Many days I still put the client work first then get to the end of the day too spent to work on my own stuff, but I am getting much better! 🙂

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