With Tess Robinson, Smack Bang Designs
Just as some people are naturally gifted with impeccable jaw lines, unbelievable Rubik’s cube skills, an incredibly extensive vocabulary, or the karaoke talent rivaling Cameron Diaz in My Best Friend’s Wedding (anyone?), some humans are naturally gifted at remaining creative even during the driest of seasons.
There’s a percentage of our population that seem to walk through life viewing boundless beauty at every corner they turn with the capacity to channel their explorations, experiences and general ‘feels’ into gob-smackingly good expressions of creativity.
Unfortunately for some of us, these expressions of creativity (aka moments-of-magical-madness-suddenly-cast-upon-us-when-we’re-least-expecting-it) often feel as though they’re lurking just out of arm’s reach with no tangible on/off switch. I remember being told in my high school art class that creativity and inspiration must come to you, and that the more you chase it, the less chance you have of grasping it. Well Mrs Fletcher, I’m not sure if you remember this lanky, freckled, paint-loving front-row enthusiast, but I’m going to have to (respectfully) call BS.
Now that I’m a real life adult (whatever that is), I’ve realised that part of the problem with finding our creativity ‘on switch’ is our work-life balance, or lack thereof. Most of us humans don’t pay enough attention to our physical or mental well-being. We work at all hours, under ridiculously stressful conditions and give very little thought to ‘down-time’. We are destined for burnout just like wine is destined for an extensive cheese board.
If creativity often seems out of reach for you – don’t stress. Here are some suggestions to read while you’re procrastinating on being your fully-fledged, incredibly creative self. The only state of mind conducive to creativity is an open one, so check out the below and conquer!
1. NUKE YOUR COMFORT ZONE
You know that place nestled snugly within your psyche we call your ‘comfort zone?’ Full of labrador puppies, cuddly pillows, pastel coloured unicorns and songs by Bon Iver? It’s time to nuke the whole place. Ignore the unicorn screams and send your deepest condolences to Bon. Comfort, no matter how comfortable it may be, is not good for creativity – the luxury puts a lid on your limits and prevents you from thinking outside of the box. Go somewhere new, read something outlandish, learn something challenging and take a leap of faith, just get out there and experience something that scares the pants off you.
2. COLLABORATE WITH A MATE
Einstein once said, “Creativity is contagious, pass it on.” Even if his E=MC2 stuff still doesn’t make sense to me, I think old Albert was onto something with this sentiment. Spending quality time with other creatives is a must. The give-and-take of collaboration and bouncing back and forth constantly forces you to produce and discuss new ideas and ways of thinking. It’s not always easy-lemon-squeezy, but it’s a sure fire way to get your creative juices flowing again.
3. DO A BRAIN DUMP
Just like a nice strong cuppa coffee, sometimes mild stress can conjure the perfect amount of adrenalin and drive you need to produce exceptional work in the blink of an eye. Other times, though, stress can hang around your frontal lobe like the dull grey cloud of a hangover obliterating any skerrick of creative magic. To lighten your stress load, make a list of everything that you need to do, and do it later. Consider this as some sort of brain vomit (ew!) to get it all out so you can be feeling better and ready for creative inspiration.
4. THE OLD SWITCHEROO
Us humans are creatures of habit. We live out our days in particular, regimented, scheduled ways. We wake up, go to work, do some exercise (or have all good intentions to), go home, cook dinner, brush our toothy-fangs and say goodnight. Unfortunately though, our creative juices crave and rely upon the thrill of new experiences. Routine is the arch-nemesis of inspiration, so we need to shake things up and do things differently in order to get a new kick out of Mr/s Creative. Late night lycra parties, underwater air guitar, solo skinny dipping, bright pink manicures, bagpipe busking, zebra rides to work – something, anything. Humans are not born out of thin air, and nor is our creativity. We need fuel. We need fire. And just like Metallica, we want what we desire.
5. BE A BOOKWORM
Nearly every successful entrepreneur reads voraciously. Get your motor started by reading the work of someone firing on all cylinders. It will remind you what it looks, feels and sounds like to be truly achieving your wildest dreams, and it may just inspire you to reach that little bit further. Get your mits on some inspiring books, blogs, papers and magazines covering subjects both within and outside of your industry. Widen your knowledge, expand your bandwidth and discover new things.
6. DO THE JANE FONDA
When you find yourself in the deepest, darkest depths of lack-lustre creative lethargy, even the smallest amount of exercise can prevent a full day of wheel-spinning. Get out and about and get that bloody blood pumping! Bounce your booty in a way that simulates your lungs and clears your head. Walk. Run. Bike. Swim. Lift something heavier than your iPad. Whatever. Just move that bod.
7. DON’T HIT ‘SNOOZE’ ON YOUR BRAIN
Wake up early, stay up late, eat your cereal at 2pm or set up an office in your bath tub – just figure out the quirks that will uncork the magic. Listen to your bio rhythms and work out when your brain is at its peak. I can personally design at any hour of the day, but I can’t deny that it takes me around six times longer when I design mid-food-coma straight after lunch. No amount of Justin Timberlake (surely us friends can just refer to him as JT, right?) could even pull me out of my post-banquet sluggish daydream. Figure out what works for you and, you know, act accordingly!
8. TREAT YO’ SELF
Creative lockjaw is often a result of too much work and not enough play. We’re all too busy working for the man, even if the man happens to be ourselves. When you’re looking for lightbulb moments, I suggest doing something for yourself. Whether it’s a solo seaside getaway, or a Bunnings-inspired DIY day, it doesn’t have to to be extravagant, and it sure as hell doesn’t have to be approved by anyone else. Just treat yo’ self by doing something that fills you up and brings you back to centre.