Maintaining Your Creativity

There is no doubt creativity drains. At least for me... and every other creative I have talked to. At some point in your creative life, you will run out of fuel and need to refill it. Over past few years I have noticed an intense drain on my creativity. I've had so much output: music, worship services, graphics, video, photography, the daily grind. When you realize it's hard to produce quality creativity or you have a hard time getting excited about your passion and skill, it's probably time to go into maintenance mode. Even though you are in maintenance mode, it doesn't mean you can't create, it means you have to be aware of your creativity capacity. Here's a few things I do to nurture my creativity.

1. sleep and rest

You know your body more than anyone. Make sure you are getting the sleep you need. I personally can run on about 6-7 hours of sleep every night without feeling drained. I know others who need 4, and others who need 8+. Find out what you need and make it a priority. 

Resting is different than sleep. We live in a world without margins. We wake up and our feet hit the ground and off we go with not a minute to waste. You can be getting your preferred amount of sleep and still be creatively drained if you are not taking time to rest. Make sure you are building margins in your life to sit and reflect on what is happening around you and what God is trying to say to you. 

It doesn't have to be extensive. Put the kids to bed and before you start working again, or put on the tv, or your list of chores to get done before bed, grab a chair and sit outside and listen to the birds sing. If you absolutely have no time to give, you need to re-evaluate your schedule and potentially your life. Margin is an important part of the creative process. It's an important part of living a healthy life regardless. If you have no margin, God can't use you the way He should be.

2. get away

One of the best things I can do to recharge is change the scenery. Whether you spend your time at home, in an office cubicle, or in a open workspace, looking at the same walls sucks the creativity out of you. Find a time to get away. For me, I find it most helpful to find some sort of moving water and plant a seat near it. Hearing the water move past me refuels my creativity for some reason. Find your happy spot. Figure out what works for you.

Also, when you are constantly in the same places, you can get in a creative rut. Try crafting your skill in a new location. Shoot photographs somewhere you never have been before, take your acoustic with you on vacation, unplug your MacBook from your monitor and sit on the deck. Sometimes it even helps to switch seats in the same room! If you can't take your workspace with you, improvise. 

Some of my best photography is in new places. I love being able to try and capture that feeling I am feeling while I'm there in just one frame. It can be a challenge, but it's also a creativity boost. Don't confine yourself to 4 walls, it will kill your creativity.

3. Learn

Have you ever noticed all of your graphics use the same font... or maybe all of your paintings use the same colors, or all of your photographs have a similar technique, or maybe you are stuck using the same chord progressions?

One of the ways to break out of a creative rut is to learn what others are doing. I've been obsessed with Peter McKinnon lately. Besides being super A.D.D. which helps keep my attention through a 10 min. video (pathetic I know), he has a great way of sharing different techniques I can use in photography and video.  This guy has so much experience! 

Find someone who you can learn from on youtube, or skillsharecreative live, vimeo or whatever and go to town. We live in the digital age with so much knowledge at our fingertips. Crack into it, find a new technique and have at it. Trying something new always gets me excited about getting back out there and creating something new. 

It doesn't have to be a video, sometimes you can find great information and transforming thoughts in books. A book that revolutionized my creative thinking and indirectly pushed me to move on from my most recent job is Pursing Christ. Creating Art. This book challenged my "status quo" perspective and pushed me to give my best to Jesus. I strongly suggest this book if you are struggling with your purpose or creativity.

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4. relationships

Remember this equation: Relationships > Everything. Period. If you want to more creative you have to spend time with others. If you are ever in a drought, grab a buddy and find out how they are being creative, or better yet, ask them to help you with your project. I guarantee you if you work on collaborating with others, your creativity with thrive. If you struggle with collaboration, this is top priority to work on. Surrounding yourself with the right people, with other people, will boost your creativity to new levels. 

 

Bottom line, we are all creatives. Just like in your car, if you let the fuel gauge get too low, you won't go anywhere. It's no different with your creativity. Remember to maintain your creativity and you will be a happier person!

 

What do you do to maintain your creativity that isn't on this list? Feel free to comment below.