A Guide to Nurturing Your Creativity
As a child, I used to carry all my paintings in a polythene cover, go to my neighbors’ houses and tell them, ‘These are my paintings. I am selling them. You can pick any for Rs. 10.’
I never wondered if those paintings were perfect, I did not beat myself up while painting them. I loved colors and I loved painting with them. One fine day, when I had too many paintings, I decided to sell them. The ability to create all those paintings without judging myself, that is what we all need as creators. The rest will work out for itself. Because if we made those many paintings over the years, it is guaranteed that our creativity will have improved on its own.
At some point in my childhood, that spark and creativity died, almost. But I always knew that I loved playing with colors and held onto that knowledge until I started experimenting again a few years back. Here is what I have been learning and practicing, to nurture my creativity. Since I focus on singing, painting/drawing and writing, my learnings will be from these areas and here I am laying them out for anyone who needs them to nurture their creativity:
- Understanding Why You Create – When I started blogging in 2010, I wrote because I loved turning my thoughts into words, decorating them and putting them out. The primary purpose was enjoying the process. The secondary purpose was that I wanted to be read. Gradually, as I was introduced into the world of blogging, SEO and marketing, there was a shift in this purpose. All around me, there was so much focus on finding a niche, SEO and marketing, that it wasn’t about writing anymore. Eventually I stopped blogging. I would blog once or twice a year, in order to keep my blog active.
I am now back to writing poems and blogging. I also have my newsletters going out every month which you can subscribe to. I am excited about writing all these pieces. Right now, I am sitting in my room, sipping a cup of coffee, looking out my window into the woods, and typing away joyfully. Listen to me. And listen to me carefully. Create, because you love creating! Fall in love with creating, stay in love with creating and then, gradually expand to whatever other motive you have with creating; for social media, money or fame.
Whenever you create something, ask yourself, ‘Do I enjoy doing this?’, if your answer is NO, ask ‘How can I make it more enjoyable?’
- Making Creativity More Enjoyable – You enjoy doing something when it interests you, and when you keep learning or experimenting more about it. If you are a writer, and if you want to make the process of writing on a topic more enjoyable, you need to understand the topic first. You need to read up on it, watch videos, research well and then create a structure as to how your take on it will be. If you want to paint a particularly difficult landscape, you need to watch videos on how similar landscape paintings are done and the techniques used. Possessing additional knowledge will increase that curiosity within you. You will approach the subject as, ‘Let me see how I can bring my own twist to this. Let me see if I can pull off this technique.’
Another way you can enjoy while creating is to have no goal. Write for ten minutes on just about anything. You don’t intend to do anything with the post. As artists, you can simply play with colors for 10 minutes. Even a line that you make on a piece of paper, adds to your skill and learning. So sometimes. let got for the heck of it.
- Finding Groups that Discuss Your Creative Area – There are WhatsApp groups for writers and artists that I am part of. You could seek them out and join the ones where people discuss art that interests you. There is Blogchatter that holds weekly chats and campaigns so that we bloggers have something going on for us at all times. In fact, this post is a part of Blogchatter’s Bloghop. I wouldn’t have written this otherwise.
- Find an Accountability Partner – I am on the lookout for one. You can partner with one or more people, meet online once a week, discuss your creativity goals during the week and hold each other accountable. This means you can reach out to them anytime you hit a creative block or a road block. When you discuss your plans for the week, you might end up giving each other ideas or inputs and this could get your creative juices running.
- Bringing Aesthetics into your Creative Space – I like listening to calm music while writing. There are beautiful writing and reading music available online which I will be sharing in my Newsletter whenever I find them. If the music is right, I find the words flowing faster and smoother. In fact, I have music playing in the background as I write this. I go sit in cafes and paint for a change of scenery and motivation. I sometimes go up to the rooftop and journal. Mind is sometimes like an almost empty toothpaste tube. If you squeeze at the right point at a weird angle, it will surprise you with an unbelievable quality/quantity of output. I will embed the music I listen to while writing, at the end of this post for you.
- Listen to Podcast – Reading and listening hits you differently. When you are cooking, cleaning or working out, have a creativity related podcast in the background. Keep playing podcasts by various creators and when you notice something that hits you, note down the podcast details and revisit it later and to listen to more from the artist. This need not necessarily be creativity podcasts. It can be on positivity, happiness or entrepreneurship. There are transferable skills, that can be applied across all areas. Pay attention to those and see how you can apply them in the creative sector.
- Maintain a Book of quotes or anecdotes that boosted your Creativity – If creating a certain ambiance or listening to a certain music helped you write better, note it down. If you wrote well at a certain cafe, write that experience down. If you found a nice podcast or a book recommendation that you think boosts your creativity, note it down. You can note down topics for writing/painting, quotes that you liked, one liners that you thought of, which you want to use in some write-up in future, half finished poems that you can work on etc. On days that you feel particularly creative, write down how you feel and what motivates you to write. This book will be your insurance. You can revisit it when you are low on your creative juices and it might get your motor running.
- Walking/ Bathing – These two help me when I am in an absolute creative rut. There are studies that show that 12 minutes of walking a day, could help you feel a little lighter and happier. If you are walking, you can choose to listen to podcast or music. But if you decide to walk listening to the sounds on the street, the thoughts in your head, you will find thoughts that help your creative side emerging. I have tested this. I am now learning swimming. So I haven’t been going on walk for about 2 weeks. But I have been walking almost everyday since October 2022 and it has helped me with my creativity, content and how I feel about myself.
As for bathing, I have always wished that I had a piece of water proof paper and ink in my bathroom so that I could note down the ideas and poems that visit me while I take a shower.
- Knowing that You have complete Control Over your Creativity – There is no right way to creativity as it is about how you perceive things and what you turn them into. So unlearn all the rules you have been taught; you can create whenever you feel like. You can leave it unfinished. You can be unsatisfied with it because not all creations are perfect. You will create sub standard pieces, no matter how great an artist you are, but you will always learn from them. You need not force yourself to create. You can push a little, encourage yourself and let it be if it doesn’t work. Try again the next day. No matter what you do, don’t second guess yourself or your art. If you want to create something, do it whole heartedly. It isn’t about how it turns out. It is about whether or not you enjoyed creating it.
Nurturing our creativity is a creative process in itself. Every small step towards creativity adds value. But the best thing to do to nurture your creativity is to hone your art, repeatedly. If you are a writer, keep writing. It will get better. I know that it is such a cliched advice. But it truly hit me when I went to my Uncle’s house. He is a famous artist and he works mostly with watercolor. His studio has hundreds of thousands of paintings; some rough, some really good, some out of this world; but seeing substandard paintings, stacks of his practice paintings and painting books, and books on drawing and painting which he uses to learn techniques, I felt like I had been slapped across my face. Here is a 70 year old, who spent almost all his life painting, who is still practicing everyday, and here I am, who don’t even write once a week, complaining about not being a successful writer.
So while all those other points in this post holds good, the two most important and basic things to do to nurture your creativity are; enjoy what you do and do it repeatedly.
Here is that writing music that I promised. Do subscribe to my Newsletter if you would like access to more useful resources such as these, and for some calm reads
I could so relate to your thoughts when you mentioned that when one starts off with something, they don’t bother about results or end destination. It’s the process of enjoyment. The same goes for me, when I started writing/Blogging in 2013, it was merely because I wanted to write and be read. There was nothing about being consistent, competitive, or SEO and other factors. The same with art, when I started creating it, it was to explore my skills and how more can I explore and hone them. Now it’s all about the algorithm, likes, and reaches… We often forget to enjoy and slowly we start losing interest until life brings us back and let us meet the artist within us…
You have complete control over your creativity – I love it so much!
This is such a heartfelt post where you pour out all your experiences to help other creators. I agree that you should love doing your creative stuff and yes, walking clears my mind of all the unnecessary ideas and I am back to that creative person once again.