Make Inspiration Come To You
There are few things better than that moment when you realize you’re riding a real creative wave. Your synapses fire as you slide further into focus.
Your concept of time disappears. Every move you make seems to take you deeper into that sweet spot.
An otherwise cumbersome process just flows.
Slipping into a creative flow is like being a cog in the wheel of a lean, mean, productive machine.
You’re just one of many integral elements to the process that must be present to tap into deep creativity.
Maybe you’re an artist.
No matter what you do, you can’t find ‘flow’ without inspiration.
If there were a way to increase the chances you’d hit creative flow each and every time you sat down to work on your projects, wouldn’t you?
I’ve spent years trying to do just that. I wasted a lot of time telling myself that my writing would just “come to me when inspiration strikes.” (A good excuse for laziness!)
Then, in my late twenties, I realized I might be waiting a long time for any results from that kind of outlook. So I got serious and turned my writing into a serious habit – whether inspiration was striking or not.
Thru women’s writing groups, days spent writing at coffee shops, and these favorite writing tools, I learned something. Setting the right atmosphere, achievable goals, and state of mind are the factors in whether or not creatives find their flow.
Luckily, those are three things we don’t have to wait around for. We have the power to create environments and mindsets that foster the creativity we’re looking for!
Unlock Your Creative Flow
Discover Your Highs
We all have peaks and valleys in our energy levels. Paying attention to them is a good place to start when pursuing a higher plane of creativity.
My natural focus is strongest in the early morning and late evening hours. So, I do my best to schedule writing-intensive projects around those times.
When you see a pattern in your creative output, you can work to protect those windows of time from other responsibilities or distractions.
Energize Your Body
Ever sit down to a project and feel like you’re just not all there? Or worse, you’re so restless you can’t seem to focus on any one particular thing?
Bringing body movement into the creative process helps me center my energy, shake off the pressure, and reconnect my mind, body, and spirit.
Move through a few light yoga poses or dance around to an energizing song; the mini-endorphin high will give you a natural surge of creativity and focus.
Set The Stage
Trying to spark inspiration can be pretty difficult if you’re working in an uninspiring space. Take care to decorate your desk or studio with items, colors, and energy that motivate and uplift you.
Create an inspiring space.
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Creativity occurs in a heightened state of mind so avoid setting a scene that will leave you more sleepy than productive.
I like to incorporate candles, incense (I love something zesty and bold), flowing scarves, and good lighting into my space. An inviting creative work area will help settle your mind into productive focus.
Creativity is a rare talent
According to psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, creativity is the “ability to generate new ideas and new connections between ideas and ways to solve problems in any field or realm of our lives.”
Not only does everyone possess a degree of creativity, but it can also be nurtured by creating the right conditions for its growth.
Although it was once thought that only “creative types” with world-changing ideas such as Shakespeare and Steve Jobs possessed this ability, research has revealed that there are actually different degrees of creativity.
There’s so-called “Big-C” creativity, which refers to ingenious culture-changing concepts like the Internet and the iPhone, and then there’s “little-c” creativity, which includes all types of resourceful thinking, from knowing how to substitute ingredients in a recipe to finding new ways to raise funds for a campaign.
Also, research shows that creativity is not limited to a specific discipline and that it can be easily fueled by appreciating others’ creativity, such as listening to music and viewing works of art.
Right-brained people are creative
The popular assumption that creative people are right-brained and logical thinkers are left-brained is completely wrong.
At one point, research conducted with participants who had the left part of their brains surgically severed from their right supported this concept, but it turns out that these findings were not applicable to the rest of the population.
Most people use both the left and right sides of their brains simultaneously, and the capacity to be creative doesn’t originate from any one hemisphere.
Time pressure sparks creativity
Another misconception is that being under pressure to complete a project by a given deadline fuels creativity. While this may be true in the sense that a “high consequence” environment is conducive to “flow” (as discussed in Part 1 of this topic), research conducted by Harvard professor Teresa Amabile indicates that fighting the clock kills creativity.
In fact, the study not only found that people were the least creative when they were under time constraints, but it also revealed that they experienced a “creativity hangover,” which caused the participants to be less creative for the following two days.
Amabile puts it best when she states that ideas need time to marinate. “Creativity requires an incubation period; people need time to soak in a problem and let the ideas bubble up.”
Creative people are unstable
From Van Gogh slicing off his own ear to Kurt Cobain taking his own life, history is full of creative geniuses who were both blessed and tormented by their own exceptional talents.
While there are research results that have been interpreted as suggesting there is a link between mental illness and creativity, the general consensus among creativity experts is that there is no connection between the two.
What’s more, studies have indicated that creativity is more likely to be present when one feels positive emotions, such as joy, happiness, and love than when one experiences negative emotions, such as anxiety and fear.
Creative people are geniuses
Although most people conflate intelligence and creativity, the two are actually separate capacities. Studies conducted by Deyoung revealed that a high IQ is not a requirement for high creativity and that the two are mildly correlated constructs with different underlying factors.
While intelligence has to do more with processing speed, memory, and planning, creativity is characterized by novelty, beauty, and utility.
There’s nothing wrong with dressing the part and looking fierce while you get in the zone. It can be empowering to use our style to transport our state of mind.
But if the sensory distractions of tight seams, underwire, and a waistband start to take a toll on your focus… reconsider.
Feeling professional isn’t the same as being creative. Some of my best work has been done in an open-back lounge shirt and in my good old-fashioned house dress.
The point is: to make your creation the star of the show and dress accordingly.
Limit other unnecessary distractions or trips around the house by supplying your workstation with water (this bottle keeps track of how much you drink throughout the day), caffeine or juice, a small snack, your chargers, and headphones ahead of time.
Find Your Vibe
There are a ton of ways to express our creativity; each medium requires a different level of focus. Some creative work, like writing, is tedious and requires hyper-concentration. Other arts, like painting, sculpting, or designing, might allow for a more laid-back atmosphere.
Don’t waste precious time skipping songs that pull you out of your creative state. Spend an hour or so searching for music that will put you into a creative-Jedi-trance and download it to your phone or laptop so you’re ready to dive right in.
Need focus? Aim for ambient instrumentals.
Need motivation? Look for something upbeat and medium-tempo.
Protect Your Power Time
When you’ve discovered what time of day your creativity naturally peaks, work on protecting it!
Set aside a dedicated amount of time that is yours alone. Doing so – and letting roommates or your family know – will transform the way you work.
I am so free to create when I block out potential distractions and save myself from feeling torn or pulled toward frivolous tasks (like, this is not the time to dust the bookshelves).
Not only am I protecting my energy, but I also perform better when I give myself a finite amount of time to get stuff done. Whether your window ends up being thirty minutes or three hours, you’ll have a direct portal to creative flow!
Make A Plan
Part of the allure of creativity is that it knows no bounds. But that doesn’t mean walking into an art or work session without goals will do you any favors.
Determine a deliverable, progress benchmark, or even just a specific feeling you want to leave your space with.
This will help you stay focused on a desirable outcome without dictating how you get there.
This isn’t about reigning in your creative flow but giving it guidance.
Set goals that are attainable and achievable so you leave feeling good about your progress. Use my Goal-Setting Guide or the Empowered Woman’s Workbook Bundle to take your goal-setting to the next level!
Quiet The Mind
A safe and comfortable mental headspace is just as important as an inspiring workspace. Take a few minutes to clear your head, set your intention, and calm any anxiety or discouraging thoughts.
Be mindful of critical thoughts as they start to sneak up on you and replace them with a positive mantra. I use something hard to forget and easy to repeat, like “I am capable.”
Let Go… and Let Creative Flow
Creative flow is a sanctuary for our imaginations, an intangible place that allows us to bring our visions to life. Plus, it feels so good to settle into one.
Hours slip away and we’re aware of nothing else except what’s in front of us. Creativity is a true escape. To get there, you’ve got to take a little time to prepare.
But most importantly, you’ve got to learn to let go. Let go and let flow… and see what kind of magic your mind conjures into reality!