For those of us who are more naturally “creative” you might wonder why it is something to cultivate. You feel impulses to create on a monthly or weekly schedule. For others who don’t consider themselves very creative at all, you might just think creativity is best left to the Michaels splurging, Pinterest scrolling types. But I love how Jessica N. Turner addresses creativity in her book, The Fringe Hours:
“Now, you might be saying, “Jessica, I am not crafty.” I hear you. But I am not talking about crafts. I am talking about living out the God-given passions that are inside of us. Creativity isn’t crafting; it is any original expression you pursue—running, playing music, gardening, sewing, cooking, and so on are all creative acts. Even activities like volunteering and throwing parties are creative pursuits because by giving of ourselves for others we are expressing ourselves in a meaningful way. Moreover, these are activities that inspire us in an indescribable way. And when we make room in our days to include them, we feel more alive and joyful.”
Learning how to express ourselves through practicing creativity, in return makes us feel more like ourselves, more alive and more joyful.
The college I attended motto was “Get Creative” This is plastered everywhere across their multiple campuses. It was drilled into us from day one that employers are looking for creative thinkers, regardless of your industry.
I googled the definition of creativity, but found the listed synonyms more helpful in understanding creativity and why we should cultivate it: “imaginative, ingenious, innovative, original”. These are things we can and should cultivate!
Below is a list of eight ways I have found helpful in cultivating my own creativity.
1. Keep Learning
“Don’t go through life; grow through life.” – Eric Butterworth
One of the best ways to push yourself to being more imaginative and innovating is by learning. Whether learning a completely new skill or growing your current knowledge base to that of an expert, this is a sure way to cultivate creativity. Take a course, read a book, find a mentor.
2. Break Out of Your Comfort Zone
Similarly to the above tip, breaking out of your comfort zone is learning on steroids. Push yourself to try something out of the ordinary: try a new style, commit to a 30 day challenge, gain confidence in yourself as you take steps of courage in creativity.
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. ” – Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way
3. Find New Ways of Expressing Your Current Hobby or Interest
Start a blog, Instagram, Youtube, open an Etsy shop, host a club or workshop. Push your passion for a topic. My mom is a great example of this! For the past few years she has been learning all she can about botanical art, reading books, taking workshops, and though she would still consider herself a beginner, she is cultivating it further by now teaching others her knowledge base.
“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it” – Julia Child
4. Copy What You Love
Take note of things you love, not just like. What lights you up when you taste, see, hear about? The book by Austin Kleon, Steal Like An Artist, speaks on how copying will actually cultivate your own original craft.
“Imitation is about copying. Emulation is when imitation goes one step further, breaking through into your own thing.”
“What to copy is a little bit trickier. Don’t just steal the style, steal the thinking behind the style. You don’t want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes.”
5. Stop Comparing
In what may seem like a contradiction to the above tip of copying, make a habit to stop comparing. Stop comparing where you’re at to those around you or on social media. Take breaks from the comparison trap that is social media, visit a museum or gallery. Remember you are on your own unique journey.
“Comparison is the thief of joy” – Theodore Roosevelt
6. Daily Brainstorm Ideas
Keep a notebook and use it to brain-dump all your to-dos and distractions, then force yourself to brainstorm new ideas and thoughts.
7. View Creativity as Self Care
Work to view making room for creativity as essential to your self care. Just as you care for your skin and body, care for your mind by investing time and/or money to express your God-given passions.
8. Place Boundaries
Push yourself by giving yourself boundaries. Whether a boundary of time, example today force yourself to focus on something creative for an hour. Set boundaries for what topic you’ll focus on, for example this month you’ll master the perfect homemade pizza. Or set boundaries on the materials in your creative practice, for example limit your sewing project to using recycled materials.
“Telling yourself you have all the time in the world, all the money in the world, all the colors in the palette, anything you want—that just kills creativity.” – Jack White”