I haven’t always thought of myself as a creative. My mother didn’t leave her children behind to seek a better life here in the United States for me to run around and be a creative. Creatives were weird and, more importantly, broke.
Even though I attended a high school with many opportunities to pursue a creative path, I refused. Photography class? No. Audition for the school plays? No. Sing? No. Write for the school newspaper? No. Looking back, I definitely should have done every single one of those things, especially since my high school was award winning for many of those programs.
Instead, I decided the only way to change the world was to be a lawyer. To be a successful lawyer I had to take all the hardest classes and get involved in all of the “responsible” extracurriculars.
I tried to take the safe route. After all, playing it safe was supposed to help me live a life I loved, with the career I loved while making my mother proud.
Things didn’t go as plan.
Today, I consider myself a creative. I’ve always had ideas I wanted to pursue, stories I wanted to tell and a message I wanted people to hear. Unfortunately, innovative ideas don’t just fall from the sky. Thinking creatively requires connecting to another side of yourself. Even though I’m new this creative journey, I’ve picked up on a few habits that have helped me sharpen my creativity.
Here are nine Practices to help you sharpen your creativity, too:
Creativity is a very personal journey. Your deepest thoughts have power. Getting them out on paper can help you gain clarity. Keeping a journal has helped me refine what exactly I want to say to the world. While some of it may make you cringe, some of it will inspire you to keep going. It’ll help you maintaining a healthy level of naiveté and drive to continue to be that person who has something to say that had something to say to change the world.
2. Develop a creative routine
You can trick your mind into getting work done. For example, I have specific things that I do when I’m writing like lighting a candle, drinking some tea, and listening to music. When I do those things, my mind knows it’s time for me to write. It’s my routine, now, but I’m still new to this, so my routine is constantly evolving.
As a child, we were required to take a midday nap. If you couldn’t nap, your teacher would tell you to just enjoy some quiet time. While we may have dreaded it as children, quiet time is one of the most valuable things a creative can have. It’s your time to imagine, to envision, and to purify. There are many health benefits to meditation, including increasing blood flow and calming your the heart rate. Additionally, meditation gives quietness, calm, clarity and insight for free. As a creative, you can’t take that lightly.
It doesn’t matter what form you choose to express your creativity, reading is the foundation of creative expression. Reading stimulates the mind and mental stimulation is what you need as a creative to take your ideas to the next level. Books open your imagination, creating entirely new worlds for us. The possibilities are endless and indulging in someone else’s creative work serves as inspiration for your own.
Regardless of what creative path you choose, working and improving on your craft should always be a priority. Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest basketball players of all time but his reputation for putting in the work on and off the court is impeccable. It’s the work that happens when no one is watching and cheering you on that separates the greats from everyone else. The same is true for well-respected writers, musicians, dancers, continue to practice daily to improve their craft.
6. Write it down
When you’re feeling inspired and the ideas are flowing, write them down in a notebook. If you don’t, you’ll forget. Try to maintain no more than one notebook at a time. Using too many notebooks at once will only create more chaos. I can’t tell you how many notebooks I’ve started and only used a few pages before moving on to the next.
7. Appreciate your surroundings
When you grow up in “the hood” everything you read or hear about your neighborhood and surroundings is negative. The beauty of the hood is completely devalued and stripped from the people who live there. As a creative, you have the responsibility to find the beauty in your surroundings and use it as inspiration to add to your repertoire. Don’t wait for the local newspaper or hipsters to tell you that your culture and your neighborhood are valuable. They’ve always been.
8. Share Your Creations
It’s difficult to put your work out there to be critiqued by the world. But those critiques that can not only help you get better but, more importantly, they could also be an opening for the love and support you will also receive. Sharing your work is how your group of supporters, critics, family, and friends will become your tribe and help you build a brand. So dust off all of those creations living on your computer or your portfolio and start sharing it with the world.
What habits do you use to sharpen your creativity?