For a long time I felt stuck creatively, and that’s no fun. Luckily, it’s been a number of years since I’ve felt that way. For the last number of years, I’ve been consistently writing music, performing concerts, teaching, producing music video, and blogging. So, I recently sat down to reflect on all that I’ve learned about living a creative life, with the intention of helping you invite more creativity into your own life.
Here’s what I came up with:
1. Make Your Unconscious Your Partner
Your conscious brain is awesome. It can come up with basic ideas and it can be a good editor (as long as it doesn’t go overboard!). But, the best, juiciest, most creative stuff is way beyond your conscious brain’s comprehension. To access that , you need to partner with your unconscious. The great news is that your unconscious brain is at work while you go about your day and even while you sleep. My M.O. is to work on a song until I get stuck and then I set it aside until a later point. In the meantime, I let my unconscious work with it. Sometimes I even go to bed with an intention for my unconscious to sort through the problem at hand while I sleep. Often, I wake up with the answer to my query.
2. Those Are Excuses
Yes, I know your partner isn’t supportive of your creative endeavors, you don’t have the space, your job leaves you no time, and you have a houseful of kids. Guess what? Those are all excuses. If you want to create badly enough, you’ll find a way to do it. Before I was a full-time musician, I would often write music late at night after I put my kids to bed because that was the only pocket of time I could find. These days, I’m still often working long before the sun is up. It’s up to you alone to make it happen.
3. Be Imperfect
This is huge. If you want to produce a lot, you absolutely cannot be a perfectionist. Being a perfectionist is another way to say, “I’m afraid to fail.” Not being a perfectionist is another way to say, “I don’t care if I fail because I’m learning and having fun, plus I don’t really care what everybody else thinks about what I’m creating.”
4. Focus on the Process, Not the Outcome
When is creating fun? When you don’t care how it turns out. I write at least twice as many songs as I release. Why? Because I love songwriting. But some of the songs don’t turn out well so I don’t release them. Writing a bad song often helps me work through what I need to work through to write the next good one. It may even heal something in me. Remember: process, process, process.
5. Trust in Abundance
There’s more out there that can be created than all of humanity could possibly manage to create over many lifetimes. How many love songs are there out there? And, how many millions more are yet to be written? There’s an infinite amount of creative work to be made. It doesn’t run out. Just because someone else created something doesn’t mean there’s nothing left for you. There’s plenty. The songs and ideas are not going to run out.
Most of my ideas come to me when I’m running. I don’t know the science behind it but I know that it works. Get your endorphins pumping, get some fresh air, and treat yourself to a change of environment. In fact, I came up with the idea for this blog post on a run last week. Truth be told, it’s rare that I go for a run and don’t come home with a new creative idea.
7. Set Aside Time to Work
Can you find an hour in your week to devote to your art? How about two or three? Maybe you can swap out an hour of TV time to work on your screenplay. Or, maybe you can get up an hour earlier once a week. The point is that nothing’s going to change for you if you don’t set aside and plan for dedicated time to do your art.
8. Have a Dedicated Space in Which to Work
It doesn’t have to be big or fancy. Clean is terrific. Having a door that closes is amazing. One year my music studio was in a walk-in closet. Boy, did I write some great music in that tiny room. These days, my office/studio is a bit bigger but still nothing fancy.
9. Set Deadlines and Stick to Them
When I’m killing myself to get something out according to the deadline that I myself set, my husband will often ask me why I don’t wait a few more days rather than working like crazy to meet my own deadline. After all, would anybody notice if my new song came out a few days later than planned? No, but my being consistent ensures that a) I honor my commitment to myself and my fans to create one music video a month, b) I don’t fall into the perfectionist trap (see #3), and c) I keep challenging myself to grow and try new things. If you need an accountability buddy, find a friend to hold you accountable to stick to the deadlines you’ve set.
10. Honor the Creative Impulse
That piece of you that wants to express something about being alive? That’s your soul. Don’t brush it off.
11. Creativity Begets Creativity
The more you create…the more you create! Allow yourself to get into the groove.
Have a trick of your own to share? Please add it to the comments section below.
Julie Geller is a singer/songwriter who is saving the world one song at a time by writing original, uplifting music. She has been releasing one new music video a month since June of 2013. Find her on Facebook and Twitter and sign up for free monthly music at www.JulieGeller.com.