Hello, Creatives! Finally, some warm weather with the promise of Spring in Maryland. I hope you are getting outside and feeling inspired (remember the “Getting Inspired with Mindfulness” post? Worth a re-read). This week, I want to help you capitalize on the powerful impact nature and weather has on us and our creative process.
Remember, Creative, you are sensitive, and you are sensory. You have strong emotional reactions to many things, and are very impacted by information coming in to your sensory system (sights, sounds, textures, smells, tastes). Change is very powerful because during a time of change our senses are very heightened to absorption (think jumping in a cold pool on a hot day- those first few seconds are potent!) All totaled, you have a powerful stream of energy to tap into during a seasonal change. And- the best, most mindful way to capitalize on this energy, is to go get in it- get outside!
I want you to physically put yourself into this energy stream and take what nature is offering you- like the plants stretching and unrolling their leaves into the warm sunlight after a long winter- absorb the energy and refill your stores. Biologically it is needed and healthy, emotionally it is restorative and creatively it is regenerative. This is so powerful!
Here are some ideas that might help you in your efforts:
And finally, of course, come to counseling! Let me support you moving forward and creating your best life. You are worth it. The life you will live when you do the work is worth it. Natural periods of potent energy like this are an ideal time to start working changes in your life, and I’m here to help!
(C) 2018 Creatively, LLC
Hello Creatives! This week, in honor of the expansion of two of my Creatively workshops to the Columbia Art Center this Summer, I am giving you a sneak-peak of what you can look forward to if you attend the “Getting Unstuck” workshop (which is available now at Root Studio!)
At this workshop you can expect to meet some amazing local talent, and in the beginning of our time together we all swap information about our work, current projects, and where we may feel stuck and/or need a boost of creative energy. The goal of the workshop is to get a push into the flow-y, energized space where we are ready to resume our work.
Once we have all met, we will review some information that you may have already explored in previous blog topics. The thing about being “stuck” is, there are many reasons, explanations and sources of the stuck-ness. To do our best detective work, we need to review some of the context and information we already know about creative people. So we will discuss the following possible explanations for being stuck:
This is individualized; where are you stuck?
Diametrically opposed traits of productivity vs rest
Product vs process oriented
End of a phase
Need mindfulness/exit intellectualizing/conceptualizing
Next we will explore the following approaches to troubleshoot getting unstuck:
Meditation for mindfulness and being fully present to senses; tap into
body needs and inspiration
Cross-modality; goal to take of “product” focus and perfectionism
Regressing images, supplies, approaches; goal to “play”
Repetition; goal to nurture creative rests and reenergize flow
Look at other work; goal to get perspective and see if you are
Critique: hear from others feedback, identify where your needs are, if you
need to change direction, if you need to pursue or edit, give voice to help
Feeling “stuck” is very specific to you, and unfortunately in one workshop we cannot try many of the things that may help you- but there is one specific practice that we will dabble in: that is the process of cross-modality. I will have each participant engage in a project similar to what they currently feel stuck on. I will then introduce you to two alternative modalities that are not your standard and probably not your strength. I will lead you through using these to get unstuck by directing you to go back and forth from them to your original piece- taking bits of inspiration and energy along the way. It is here we spend the meat of our workshop. In addition to my feedback, I expect you to communicate with each other, also garnering a kind of “cross-creative-flow” to help you in your process.
At the end of every workshop we will have a critique. This is not an art critique you may be familiar with from art school, for example, as it is not product focused. We will take the time as a group to talk to and hear from each member about their experiences, their struggles, any “aha” moments, and give supportive feedback to each other. We use the important insight from others to reflect upon our own experiences and needs.
You can expect to leave with ideas, energy, started pieces, new techniques, new inspiration and enthusiasm to bring to your workspace. You will not leave with a masterpiece but you will leave with some small pieces to take the energy you have found from the workshop.
The workshop is 90 minutes in total. It is available currently at Root Studio (here) and soon to be at Columbia Art Center (more details to come!)
Feeling stuck? Ready to change that? Tired of reading things to try and ready to dive into some practices? This could be for you!
(C) 2018 Creatively, LLC
Creatives, this week we will continue our discussion of the creative personality and the creative cycle. We are going to dive into the notion of “showing up for creativity.”
Let’s take one step back and revisit the topic of art process vs product. As we are learning how to make art, and again throughout our lifetime as artists, we are very product focused: how does our finished product look, represent our view, our technical skill, the marketplace, the art world, and more? In fact, without discerning between the two, our default view of our art form is likely to be product focused. This is valuable and important, but distinct and different from the process of making art. The process we engage in while making art is connected to neurological creative processes that are grounding, inventive, fulfilling, communicative and even cathartic. Becoming too product focused can disrupt the artistic process, and over investing in the artistic process doesn’t usually create your best product. Depending on the goal, it is useful to more heavily weight or balance these two elements. Assignment due? You are likely to be product focused. Doing art for the therapeutic value? You will need to invest more in the process.
The idea of “showing up for creativity” comes from a long held belief by creative people that the spark of creativity or inspiration isn’t constant (remember the creative cycle post?). Oftentimes between these moments of inspiration (which can range from less interest or energy in your creative work to being stuck or blocked creatively) we decide we will wait for that next creative wave to crest before diving back into our work. To “show up for creativity” is the idea that this is backwards: the spark doesn’t organically appear without doing the work. Rather, by continuing to produce work, you will build the momentum and energy back to the moments of inspiration and passion that creative people live for. In other words, the belief is: do not wait for creativity to happen, show up for it every day.
This is actually a commonly disputed belief, and unfortunately the evidence for or against the system is by necessity anecdotal. Essentially, like many things in the creative personality, whether or not it works for you to “show up” for your creativity and continue to produce work during inspirational lulls, depends on the unique factors that make you, you. What it does do is give us a concept by which to begin to explore and discuss your creative process, struggles and goals. I am interested in how the adage works for you.
How do your creative instincts, protective mechanisms and personal history respond to the concept of “showing up for creativity?” Dare you to test the theory? What I have said before and what my own psychological research has sustained, is that to be happy, fulfilled, resilient and their best self, creative people need to create. Regularly. All the time. This is perhaps one way to make this happen. Many creative people swear by it. So tell me, Creative. How does it strike you?
(C) 2018 Creatively, LLC
I have been wanting to talk about this for a few weeks, and today, the timing feels right: let’s explore the creative cycle.
Many things in life operate in cycles. Creativity does, too. In this case, as in many others, by identifying a creative cycle we are simply naming clusters of symptoms and behaviors that tend to occur together to understand them better. That means of course there is variation from person to person, and that the naming is more for communicating and understanding than diagnosing or labeling.
Anecdotally, I have observed the following tendencies and stages to be roughly cyclical in my creative clients:
Building up of energy
Making plans, generating ideas and designs
Completion and editing phase
Sharing and excitement phase
Deescalation of energy
Lowered creative energy/creative block.
This cycle also follows the model of diametrically opposed traits we looked at a few posts back (remember the pair of high/low energy?) Speaking of, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi also has his five stages of creativity:
Preparation (becoming immersed/interested in a topic or problem)
Incubation (subconscious marination when we make connections and work on the problem)
Insight (“AHA!” Moment)
Evaluation (is your newly birthed idea worth following)
Elaboration (the most time and energy is spent here- where you do the creative work)
Though named and grouped differently, both models generally outline the same cycle: germinate, build, produce, disseminate and ebb.
Thinking about this, take a moment to look at where your process might fit into these cycles. Have you been producing lots of ideas and work without a distinct direction? You may be generating/incubating. Landed on a concept but not sure how to produce? Maybe you have your idea and insight and need to push into creation to move forward.
If you know where you are in the cycle, you can more easily identify what to do next. You begin to understand and flesh out the nuances of your own creative cycle and therefore how to best operate within it. Start with the basic framework and let it percolate- what is your creative cycle like? Where do you spend the most time within it? What might you want to change about how you move through it? Come sit in my chair and lets explore, problem solve and keep you creating!
(C) 2018 Creatively, LLC
This week marks the beginning of a new category in the Creatively blog: creative exercise prompts to refresh yourself and help you get unstuck. They are random and designed to get your creative juices flowing and start producing work. Creative energy isn’t constant and one of the best ways to reignite is to be productive and prolific.
For this exercise, there are three aspects- you can choose to use one, two or all of them in your work. Make as many pieces as you can exploring the prompt.
Aspect one: Make a self portrait using symbols to represent yourself. Include at least four characteristics of yourself in your work.
Aspect two: Make your work a painting and limit yourself to making only 100 brushstrokes to complete your piece.
Aspect three: Make your work only using your favorite color. You can use different hues, saturation’s, values but all of the same color. Try at the end incorporating a color you usually don’t like.
When you are finished, write about the process. This will be a free write: put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and just begin writing. Fill a page with your reflections about the exercise.
Alternative: if you are a musician or a writer, edit the exercise in a way similar to this:
Aspect one: Write or play a song/poem/piece as a reflective self portrait. Allude to at least four characteristics of yourself in your work.
Aspect two: Make your work using only 100 notes/words
Aspect three: Make your work using only your favorite music/writing style. You can Explore the style any way you would like within the genre. Try at the end incorporating a style you usually don’t like
When you are finished, choose a different creative approach to explore your experience (eg if you are a writer, draw or make music, if you are a musician, write or draw, etc)
A regular struggle for creative people is the creative block. Writers have writer’s blocks, painters have artistic blocks- we all have things that interfere with the flow of our creative energies. There are many reasons for creative blocks and they all impact us in different ways. In a previous blog post, we looked at using mindfulness to address a lack of inspiration. For the purpose of this exercise let’s examine some of the physical things that get in your way. In other words, what about the atmosphere of your daily life interferes with your ability to create?
What is your ideal creative time? What are you doing? Where are you working? What are you using? What do you hear, see, smell? Take a moment and envision the space. Envision the project. Are you making creative time part of your regular life? Most of us aren’t. We already know that creative people need to create like we need to eat and sleep. Why aren’t we prioritizing being creative? What are some of your barriers to creating?
For many of us it is about time. We have full time jobs, we have families to care for, households to run, other priorities. For many of us it is about money. We have recurring expenses in our lives and can’t carve out extra for supplies. Sometimes it is about space. We live in a home where every room is already spoken for. Where are we supposed to create? On the kitchen table? Maybe! Often, a barrier is motivation and/or creative energy. The problem with a lack of creative energy and motivation is it is its own feedback loop: the less creative we are, the less creative energy we have, and vice versa. Where is a creative person to start to address all of these obstacles?
An important part of therapy is basic problem solving. I say basic to emphasize fundamental more than simple- it is a first step but not an easy one. Go back to your vision of your perfectly spent creative time. Describe it. You can write about it, talk about it, draw about it, make a list- but do something to qualify it. Next, think about if you were to do something creative RIGHT NOW. What do you need? What is preventing you? Again, do something to document this. Put the “ideal” and the “real” creative time side by side. What are you lacking? Great! You have taken your first step to addressing your creative barriers. Now, let’s problem solve.
If you have a list of differences from this exercise, prioritize them based on need. How critical are they to your creative time? Once they are prioritized, you will know what you need to accomplish first for regular creating to become a reality in your life. Don’t put this off! Accept that it is a basic need and something you will work towards in some way each day. If your first item from your list feels too monumental- break it down further. This is goal setting 101: you want to set yourself up to succeed, so set goals that are bite-sized and reachable.
Of course, another vital part of this process is to get support. With my help you can get support in the form of therapy. Bring other healthy people in your life onboard as part of your process. Let’s work on this together and bring more creativity into your daily life!
© 2017 Creatively, LLC
One of the best and most healing parts of being creative is that beautiful flow of creative ideas: that amazing feeling of inspiration to begin something new and the energy that keeps us going on a creative project. Conversely, one of the hardest parts of being creative is when we are blocked from this flow. We may feel angry, frustrated, depressed, anxious or flat. Our creative efforts are stemmed or stopped completely which creates a feedback loop worsening the condition.
Good news, creatives- I can help!
There are many ways to chip away at your creative block, and likely several methods will be needed and multiple factors are contributing to feeling stuck. In ongoing posts I will address some of the other processes that may help. Today’s focus: getting inspired through mindfulness.
A lack of inspiration may be one of the reasons contributing to your creative block. Fresh inspiration can sometimes be the spark needed to reignite your creative process. However, if you are stuck in feelings of depression, anxiety or inadequacy, this spark may be harder to access. Here is an approach that works: Mindfulness. Mindfulness is another well researched technique in psychology shown over and over again by research and clinical applications alike to be effective in treating a variety of symptoms. For you, dear creative, we will use it as a tool to get inspired. Let’s explore some mindfulness basics:
Mindfulness embraces the present moment. Your goal is to take yourself out of your headspace and instead be present with the sensations of your current experience. Some people have success accessing this with a process called grounding. Focus on your five senses. What do you hear, see, smell, feel or taste? Still having trouble? Create stronger sensory experiences which may be more effective in “grabbing” you into the present- hold an ice cube, wash some dishes, take a walk. Others access mindfulness through meditation. Do a body scan and gently focus on each part of your body without moving it. Focus on the simple task of breathing. Mindfulness practices take you into fully experiencing the present moment. Absorb what is going on immediately around you. When you are in a state of mindfulness you are accessing your creative brain where your inspiration also lives.
This week there was a beautiful natural phenomenon outside. Did you see the solar eclipse? Did you experience it? Did you go outside and look at shadows, search for temperature changes on your skin, listen to the changes in animal sounds or smells in the air? If you did you may have felt refreshed, energized, and even inspired. As a creative person, you can experience inspiration anywhere when you are mindful.
Talk during your therapy session about breaking your creative block with mindfulness, and learn more about how mindfulness practices can help you find your inspiration.
© 2017, CREATIVELY, LLC
The information provided in this blog is from my own clinical experiences and training. It is intended to supplement your clinical care. Never make major life changes before consulting with your treatment team. If you are unsure of your safety or wellbeing, do not hesitate to get help immediately.