We are all creative geniuses. It doesn’t matter if you’re a technical professional who values logic above all else or if you think you don’t have an ounce of artistic ability, you have creativity within you. The question is, do you have the courage to unveil it?
Research has found that the fear of standing out is a primary reason why people don’t come up with innovative solutions or express themselves creatively. However, by not sharing your original ideas with the world or engaging in activities that ignite your creativity, you’re missing out on a powerful source of fulfillment.
This month we chose Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert as our Science of People book to learn how we can incorporate the magic of creativity in our everyday lives.
Here are my favorite lessons from the book:
Start With an End in Sight
The fatal flaw of many creative people is that they never complete their projects. No matter how much progress they make, they always find new things to change or add as they strive for perfection.
Gilbert emphasizes that nothing you create will ever be perfect. Even if you think you’ve reached perfection, someone else could look at your creation and spot a dozen things wrong with it. That’s okay though because the goal of creative pursuits is to create not to perfect.
The key to overcoming perfectionism is to start every project with a strict deadline. According to Parkinson’s Law, people are inclined to use the maximum amount of time given to complete tasks. This is one of the key driving forces behind procrastination. You may start working in a slow, distracted state but as soon as the deadline approaches, you kick things into gear.
If you’re engaging in creative pursuits for fun or to learn a new skill and have nothing driving you to meet a deadline, you can make your deadlines days that you plan to share your work with a friend or family member. Tell them what you’re doing so they can hold you accountable.
Do You Love it Through the Pain?
When you’re creating something new, you’re bound to face plenty of obstacles. The true test of whether or not you’re pursuing the right type of creative endeavor is if you still feel passionate about it during times of self-doubt, frustration, and failure.
In the book, Gilbert describes how through her years of struggling to become a successful writer, she never lost her passion for the craft. Writing is a part of who she is and no amount of difficulties will change that. If you’re pursuing the right creative pursuit, you’ll feel the same.
Watch Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk for more about how she stayed inspired through her failures:
That being said, living a creative life isn’t all about the trials. The joy of creating should far outweigh the difficulties.
Flirt with Your Creativity
One of the secrets to building a positive relationship with your creativity is to flirt with it and take it on dates. This may sound a bit odd, but there are a surprising amount of similarities between dating and being creative. They both involve taking risks and being vulnerable, they’re emotional, they inspire you to engage in new experiences and may reveal personal qualities you never knew you had.
Here are a couple of fun date ideas to ignite your creative sparks:
- Spend the afternoon drinking coffee in a quirky, local cafe. Use the time to explore new ideas.
- Turn off all your notifications for a quiet evening immersed in one of your creative projects.
- When you need a large block of time with your creativity, escape for a weekend getaway. A change of scenery can do worlds of wonders for large projects.
Not only is dating your creativity relaxing, it also makes you more creative. Researchers at the University of Cambridge discovered that people think more creatively when they play with their ideas in low-stress environments.
Don’t Quit Your Day Job
Throughout Big Magic, Gilbert debunks the dangerous myth that to live creatively, you have to become a full-time artist who risks everything else in life to invest in your art. While there are plenty of people whom that works for, it ignores the fact that you can have a full-time job, stable relationships, be involved in other activities and still be highly creative.
The key is to make being creative a part of your everyday life. Here a couple of easy ways to fit creativity into your schedule:
- Use the time you’d normally spend on social media and/or watching TV to work on creative projects.
- Block off time when you first wake up or before you go bed as your creative time.
- Invite your friends to join you in taking classes or otherwise engage in your creative hobbies to make it a bonding experience.
Do you want to earn a living off of your creative projects? Check out our article on How to Transform Your Passion into a Side Hustle for tips on how to get started.