For the theme of July, I wanted to explore something that touches us all, something to which we can all connect but I felt stuck and un-inspired. The same can be said for some of my work… I’ve often found it harder to think outside the box, to take a step back to re-think my set-ups, to re-ignite my imagination… to be creative.
You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.
– Maya Angelou
Being a creative in a creative sphere, creativity is pretty essential in everything I do. From thinking of recipes to styling shoots, editing images, writing captions and everything else… creativity is needed at every stage. And it is reassuring, albeit annoying for us all, that I know of friends and similar creatives in this space who are similarly finding that their creative spark is sparkling less brightly.
The effect of lockdown, perhaps? The effect of not interacting with people face to face, maybe? Is it because we are not eating out and being inspired? Our horizons seeming not quite as vast and broad? Life over the last few months has been anything but ordinary, yet, as we adapt to a new normal with lockdown restrictions gradually easing in the UK, we can hope to emerge from your cocoon houses and start to engage with the wider world once more.
But I fear we’d be putting too much hope on “re-finding our creativity” when we can return to a more normal routine. Although creativity can come from the outside – we can be inspired by nature, by films, by people we meet, by things we see while walking down the road… it also comes from within us.
It is always with us in how we see and interpret our external world.
It is how we can walk past a particular object and it can lead us down a path of our own imagination and of our own choosing. So, while it may seem easier to be inspired – for that initial spark to light – while we can explore the outside, I do also think we have to look closer to home.
Speaking of home, being inside for longer periods of time than was usual, means we may have become so accustomed to what surrounds us, that we take it for granted. We no longer feel inspired by what we have right at our fingertips.
Try taking a walk in your garden or look at the plants on your balcony and really sit and think. Allow your thoughts to wander and see where they take you, or where you lead them…
A gentle yoga class will often finish with a savasana (or lying down)– this is a great time to allow thoughts to come and go and to not dwell on them. It’s a form of meditation, I suppose, if this is something you are more inclined to do. Your thoughts will still come and go without your control, and a lot of meditation for me is not about emptying your hand in the search for “nothingness” but it is the lack of judgement of your thoughts. It is reminding yourself that you have nowhere else to be right now, nothing else that you need to do. To allow yourself to be present.
This clearing of space really can work wonders for creativity. The very act of slowing things down or taking a break from always thinking and doing and instead just being. We all have days that feel more inspired than others when we feel like we are “smashing it” and getting it all done. These days are balanced out with days that don’t go to plan, the days where simple tasks take a lot longer than planned. And this is OK, this is normal. It’s the yin and yang of the world. The ebb and the flow. The push and the pull. This is the very definition of balance.
To recap, here are a few ways to ignite your creativity:
- Go for a walk: round the house, in nature, in your garden. Just move without your phone.
- Movement: yoga, HIIT, Pilates, running… while you have to focus your mind on moving, you’ll often find ideas come to you.
- Keep a journal by your bed: ideas ALWAYS come to me as I am falling asleep and I worry I won’t remember them in the morning so jot them down to relieve the stress.
- Meditation or stillness: whether you sit with an app for 10 minutes or simply be still on the sofa for a few moments and just breathe, allow tour thoughts to come as they please.
- Take time out: if you can take a break from your work when it is feeling stagnant or not, then do it. Even just a day away can reward you with feelings of creative flair.
Find the recipe for these Super Seedy Overnight Oats here.
We will always have the creativity within us, perhaps some days it is hiding under a few layers of self-doubt, of disbelief and of disconnect. Taking the time to look inwards, to practise some self-care meditation and to think anew will reveal the inspiration that we always had. In the words of Maya Angelou, we cannot use up our creativity, so do not worry about a dry patch, it is just that… a patch. It will come back to you tenfold.