Valuing Your Creativity

This is a guest post by Michelle Nickolaisen of Wicked Whimsy

"Oil Painting Workspace" by nimbu

We all have so many different things to do in our daily lives – our work, being a good friend and mom and significant other, trying to stay organized, and so on. (You know the drill, I’m sure.) In the midst of all this hustle and bustle, spending time on creative pursuits can seem like an afterthought – but it’s absolutely necessary to do so.

You and I both know that if you have that deep-down craving for creativity, pushing it aside doesn’t do any good – being creative isn’t optional, it’s a must have for a healthy and happy life. If you’re ignoring your creativity, you’re ignoring a part of yourself, leaving it to wither. But if you’ve spent a while doing just that, the very idea of making your creativity a bigger part of your life can seem overwhelming and leave you with no idea where to start. That’s all right! I’ve got some ideas for you – check out the list below.

Replace something in your current schedule. This would ideally be something that you don’t get much out of anyways. If you find yourself watching depressing Lifetime movies every other night, despite the fact that you don’t enjoy it at all, think about replacing that time with a sketching or sewing hour. For this to work, you’ll need to have a good idea of where your time is currently going – try keeping an activity log for a week or so to figure that out.

Write down your ideas. It seems like such a tiny step, but believe me when I say that if you pay attention to your current ideas, more will come.  Writing them down or otherwise keeping track of your ideas seems to send a message to your subconscious that says “Hey, I’m here, I’m paying attention, give me your best stuff.” To start this process, you can use Evernote, Google Docs, or even a plain ol’ notebook. (Personally, I use a combination of all three.)

Keep track of your inspiration. This is in the same vein as the above tip about ideas. If you’re actively looking for inspiration, you’ll spot it everywhere when you might have missed it before. And having a “file” of sorts where you’ve got a list of things that inspired you previously can be invaluable when you come across a creative block. My inspiration file includes watching Coraline (or Mirrormask, or Moulin Rouge), looking at old illustrations for fairy tales, and reading graphic novels (currently reading the Fables series – it’s amazing!).

Remember why you love being creative. Write it down, keep ahold of it, and save it for those days when you tell yourself that you don’t have time. The list could include things like “Being creative makes me feel whole”, “I love interpreting the beauty of the world around me”, or “I get a special thrill from making something that’s both gorgeous & functional.” In fact, write the list after one of your creative sessions (whether that’s writing, drawing, sewing, knitting, etc.) when you’re still on the enthusiasm high and the reasons you create are vivid in your mind. Next time you start feeling like it’s too much work to cultivate this part of your life – look at the list and remember why you love it.

In general: make it a priority. Spend time or money (or both!) on your creative pursuits. Go on artist’s dates. Write morning pages. Take a class at a local creative center, community college, or art store – they’re usually fairly inexpensive at all of those places, and by taking a class you’re not only showing yourself that you care enough about this to spend money on it, but giving yourself a regular time and place to show up and be creative. Any time you feel tempted to put your creativity on the back burner, take a deep breath, look at your list, and remind yourself that this is a priority in your life and you’re going to treat it as such.

How do you value your creativity?

Michelle is a rainbow haired writer based in Austin, TX. She writes at Wicked Whimsy about life creation for thoughtful renegades, and just launched Take Back Your Creativity – an ebook + audio kit designed to help you integrate your creative life & your daily life, increase your creative output, and overcome burnout & creative blocks.

16 thoughts on “Valuing Your Creativity

  1. Hi. Great post! Couldn’t agree more, find time and write things down so you remember them. The best ideas are the ones that come from out of the blue, randomly thrown out by your subconscious – make sure you capture them!

    You’ve inspired me to tweet this to our followers!

    All the best

    Adam Charles

  2. Wow. You just convinced me to save up for a new piece of equipment. Why don’t I ever think it’s acceptable to spend money on my creativity, but I hardly think twice about purchasing a new blouse or a pretty vase. What’s really important here?

    Thank you for this article.

  3. Ah, Michelle, this is music to my ears! As the mum of 3 children under 6, I’ve had my head ‘down in the trenches’ for a while now and I’m only just starting to peer over the parapet and make some ‘me’ time to express my creativity. I had almost forgotten where to find it! But now I’ve started prioritising it, I’ve been amazed to discover a wellspring of ideas. It’s such a joyous discovery. J x

    1. I can certainly understand how three kids under six could create a busy life! I’m glad that you’re starting to find some more me-time though and prioritizing your creativity. Thanks for your comment, Jane!

  4. Probably the best thing I ever did for myself and my creativity was to start carrying my camera everywhere. If I see something that even has a twinkling of inspiration I snap it. Then, I load all my inspirations into an “idea” folder and use the photos as my desktop background (I change them weekly or whenever the mood strikes – whichever comes first). It is amazing how seeing an inspiration a dozen times a day will goad you into taking action.

    1. Janice – brilliant idea! I’ve started doing something similar with the camera on my phone & the Springpad app. It really is useful to know that if you want to remember something, it’s only a few clicks away 😀 The desktop background is an especially smart touch!

  5. I’m amazed at the things you say, they seem so simple but I never would have thought of them. I always felt creative when I was younger, I just thought that part of me was gone never to come back. But you’re totally right, just within the last year I have been slowly exercising my creativity and it’s flooding in. It never clicked, until I just read what you wrote, that I was ignoring my talents and creativity not the other way around, so Thank you!

  6. This post came at just the right time. I have not done anything creative for myself in over a week. Yes, I have had to be creative for others (a paid gig) but it’s not the sort of release you feel when you are creating for yourself.

    I can feel that lack of being ‘authentic self’ without that release of creative energy that you discuss here Michelle. As for Artist’s Dates I truly believe in them and how inspiring they can be. So tonight I am off on an artist date under the guise of a meetup whereby we create and decorate boxes for keepsakes.

    Although this is something I creatively don’t do, I think it’s also very important to try different creative tasks to expand your main creativity – be it painting, writing, etc. Trying on new creative outlets is very freeing and when you return to your main creativity, you can approach it with fresh perspective.

    Thank you for reminding me to return to my ‘authentic-ness’!

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