Have you ever sat there staring at your blank computer screen with the greatest intentions of powering out an amazing article, only to find that your brain won’t cooperate? Chances are that you are not in the right head space or creative state of mind. Creativity is not something that can be forced, coerced or willed into action. It also abhors effort.

And if we don’t nurture and tend to our creativity like a garden, it can wither and dry up, or at least it feels that way. The good news is that it can never really “dry up” completely, but it can be inaccessible at times. This can be very disconcerting and feel like a scary death sentence if you are a writer/blogger or some other creative individual who depends on said creativity to make a living.

Just as a garden needs water, and nourishment from the sun and soil to flourish, our creativity also needs nourishment and tending to. We feed it by doing those things that make us happy, inspire, and feed our soul. Our minds can also get overgrown with pesky “mental weeds,” those little buggers and daily annoyances that life sends our way that can interfere with the creative process.  And if we don’t take the time to weed them out, we can end up feeling stifled and blocked creatively.

Sometimes, we just need to slow down from the busy-ness of our lives. We tend to get so wrapped up in what’s going on “out there” that we forget to check in and take care of what is going on – on the inside.  By slowing down and taking time out now and then, we are able to tune in more, replenish and rejuvenate our psyches, feel more joy and happiness, and make space for inspiration and creativity to exist.

Meditation, sitting quietly alone with closed eyes, watching the sunset, or simply taking a leisurely walk in nature can do wonders for rebooting the old brain and getting one’s self into a more uplifted and inspired state of mind. I have found that the more peaceful, happy and unencumbered I feel, the more creative and inspired I am. Timeout and time alone should be part of our regular routine. It not only inspires creativity, it’s good for the soul.

I love the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. In it, the author teaches techniques and exercises to assist people in harnessing their creative talents and skills.  As creatives, the author recommends that we do two main things:  #1. write morning pages and #2. take ourselves on scheduled artist dates, both of which I subscribe to wholeheartedly.

When I get up in the morning, one of the first things I do (after my morning cup of java, of course) is reach for my spiral bound notebook, and begin my morning pages.  It’s nothing fancy mind you, and I prefer it that way, as morning pages are not intended to be “art” with a capital A.

Cameron recommends writing at least three pages in longhand (not typed out on the computer) of whatever thoughts, feelings or ideas come to mind, completely uncensored. Gratitude, spiritual insight, creative musings, to-do lists, goals, concerns, worries, fears, and anything else that crosses your mind gets jotted down on.

Morning pages help clarify, comfort, wheedle, spur, provoke, inspire, and prioritize the day at hand. They can be incredibly insightful, painfully raw, snarky, rambling, and even downright raunchy at times. Morning pages are meant to be a stream of consciousness intended for your eyes only.

When I am finished writing my morning pages, my mind is clear, I feel inspired, and I am ready to take on the day with a positive and creative attitude. I’ve grown to love filling up those spiral notebooks and have actually gotten to know myself better in the process.  Morning pages have become part of my daily routine like brushing my teeth, and if for some reason I can’t get to my pages, I feel off-kilter and out-of-sorts all day.

Artist dates are what Cameron refers to as “assigned play.”  The idea of the artist date is to take your self on a solo adventure to explore something that interests you, and preferably once-weekly.  The date doesn’t  necessarily have to be intrinsically “artistic” in nature.  Art is about the play of ideas and artist dates are meant to spark your imagination and encourage playfulness and fun by doing something that you wouldn’t normally make time for in your everyday life, just for your self. Artist dates help feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well.

An artist date might include taking yourself to dinner and a movie; going on a nature walk or to beach with your camera and take pictures of what you see; taking a hot yoga or Zumba class; taking your self on a thrift store haul or to an estate sale; visiting your community’s public gardens or the zoo; having a delicious picnic in the park under the trees; creating an indoor herb garden; sitting at an outdoor cafe for hours people watching; watching an Indie flick in your pajamas with a big bowl of popcorn; taking a tango dancing lesson or try belly dancing; enjoying a free concert in the park; and the list goes on!

An artist date might include taking yourself to dinner and a movie; going on a nature walk or to beach with your camera and take pictures of what you see; taking a hot yoga or Zumba class; taking your self on a thrift store haul or to an estate sale; visiting your community’s public gardens or the zoo; having a delicious picnic in the park under the trees; creating an indoor herb garden; sitting at an outdoor cafe for hours people watching; watching an Indie flick in your pajamas with a big bowl of popcorn; taking a tango dancing lesson or try belly dancing; enjoying a free concert in the park; and the list goes on!

If the basic tools of writing morning pages and taking your self on artist dates are regularly implemented, you can expect to experience more creative flow at your fingertips as well as major life shifts as you get to know your self on a much deeper level.

Last but not least, I find it helpful to create an environment that cues you into what I call “the  creative zone.”  Dedicating a room in your home as your own personal space is, of course, ideal, but even a corner in a room that you can claim as your own will do the job just fine. Incorporate items into your personal space that are inspiring and bring you joy and remove any items that you do not resonate with or that feel like clutter.

In my personal home office where I write each day, I have included some art that I enjoy looking at, a few framed quotes for inspiration, a carpeted cat condo for my lazy cats, a plant for something green and living, and a comfy chair to sit in.  My desk faces the window overlooking a large open field with cows and a forested area in background. I have to say that I LOVE my personal space and as soon as I settle into my chair, I’m automatically cued into the creative zone and ready to go.

I’m also not into clutter and a big fan of the KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and decluttering from Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo.  As a self-proclaimed minimalist, I find clutter unconducive to creativity and annoying at best. I’m a less is more gal who gets rid of stuff that I don’t use on a regular basis or need. I’ve kind of always been that way, and like the KonMari way, if something doesn’t bring me joy, I don’t want it in my space. An uncluttered space is what I need to feel creative. For others, it might be just the opposite.

Here are a few tips for getting into a creative state of mind and for keeping the flow going:

  • Allow regular downtime to zone out and disengage from your daily routine
  • Quiet the useless chatter in your mind and clear out the “mental weeds”
  • Get grounded in your body and be present in the moment
  • Tune out everything except for what you are doing in the here and now
  • Allocate a personal space in your home that is just for you
  • Feed your senses with inspirational thoughts, quotes, poetry, visuals, music, nature, etc.
  • Allow inspiration and new ideas to simmer in the pot for awhile / I call it “the gestation period.”
  • Take time out for your self to do things that are fun and bring you joy
  • Take your self on solo outings that you enjoy to replenish the well

Whether you are a writer/blogger or not, by nature, we are all creative beings and we are creating our reality each and every moment, whether we’re aware of it or not. For that reason, it’s important that we nurture and take care of our creativity and honor our self in the process. If you are having a hard time harnessing your own creative energy or feel blocked in any way, chances are there’s something going on within that’s calling for your attention. As a blogger/writer, everything I speak of here comes from my own personal experience, what I’ve learned and what I do to keep the creative juices flowing. When you write/blog for a living, your livelihood depends on the ease and fluidity of creative expression and that goes for anything creative that you choose to do.

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