In this episode of The Creative Code podcast I dive into the top six things that can kill your creativity. I explore what they are, as well as some of the ways that you can avoid falling into the traps they set so that you can stay at your most creative, and create nourishing container in which to run wild with your art.
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Blog Post Version:
So in this weeks episode I want to chat about the things that are killing your CREATIVITY.
This is something that I have become pretty passionate about because after I finished uni, I lost just about all of mine. A combination of life, study, stress and everything in between left me feeling incredibly burnt out. Not just in life but I was also creatively burnt out. If you want to learn more about creative burnout be sure to listen to episode #10 to learn all about that.
But… that means that now i have some new gained insight into the things that are killing your creativity. Having experienced just about all of them now. And I am sure that over the years I will experience even more that I will share with you guys. The past couple of years have been all about trial and error. Seeing what worked, what didn't and when something did, they have often been massive lightbulb moments. Aha moments. Each time it would feel better and better and lead to more sustainable practices to help me keep the creative juices flowing. And that's what you want when you're in the creative world.
So today I want to run through the top six things that are killing your creativity.
1. Waiting To “Feel Inspired” To Create
Why are we waiting!! There were times early in my business where I was certainly guilty of this. But the thing is… the more that we create the more creative we feel. It becomes this delicious iterative process, where often projects and ideas bounce off each other, and morph and develop.
Of course, in order for this to stay in that juicy sweet spot of inspiration it means not forcing it. Because forcing inspiration can be almost as detrimental to our creativity as waiting about expecting your million dollar concept to fall from the sky. You have to be doing the things, making and creating.
Waiting to feel inspired before you make is usually you just procrastinating. The more that you sit there and don't make, the less creative that you feel. Creativity breeds creativity, so the more that we play and just have fun with it the more likely we are to free up that creative energy and shift block that will allow us to have inspired ideas. Which is what we want right? Who does't love it when they have ideas come seemingly out of no where.
Which leads to...
2. Shitty Scheduling Boundaries
Checking your email during the day, task switching, multi-taking and the like. I myself have been pretty guilty of this in the past, even occasionally still now, but thats how I know that it's terrible for your creativity!
Structure is so important. Structure is what supports surrender. It can help us create the container in which we can thrive, the safe space for ideas to flow. But often creatives will THRIVE when they are not confined. So it’s a fine line of balance. It's creating the structure that works for you, so that you don’t feel crippled by confinement, or rebel against the structure, because it's what gives us the ability to expand. Maintaining a level of discipline, routine, scheduling. Like anything, there is no one size fits all. I find there is both freedom and frustration of routines, you just have to find that magic middle. Which is why personally I will often structure my week so that each day has a theme and a main task to get done so that things not only feel organised but I also don't get bored by doing the same thing every single day.
To avoid temptation to check emails, instagram if I am in the studio, my phone goes on airplane mode and is used only for music or podcasts. I make and create until I need a new task, need a break or am ready for lunch, or whatever else. My schedule is laid out in a block style where I block out a certain amount of time each day for different things. But I also listen to what my soul wants, and if I don't feel a drive for something then I might rearrange those blocks on my calendar so that it feels good again. I wont force myself to make when I don't feel like its the best way to be using my energy. This of course is still subject to deadlines and priority tasks, which is why getting organised it good here if you're someone like me who has a tendency to work right down to the wire. Set up a schedule and try your best to stick to it, but don't guilt yourself if it needs to be shuffled.
3. Consuming Other Peoples Content
Consuming more than you create can be one of the worst things for your creativity. You sit there scrolling through everyone else's works instead of making your own which often leads to 'comparisonitis' and feeling like you're not good enough, not creative or whatever else.
I am a big fan of Instagram, I will be honest there. And I’m sure I’m not the only one that will admit to spending far too much time scrolling through seemingly endless content from creatives from all around the world. When used well and with a few boundaries Instagram, Pinterest, and the like are awesome! But don't fall into the trap!
If you are absorbing other peoples art more than you are making your own, it can lead you down a dark path of comparing yourself, making you feel inadequate which can freeze you entirely when you go to create.
It's also a HUGE time suck. Social media is designed to keep us scrolling, it's a black hole. So as a creative we can lose a lot time in there getting "inspired" or just checking in on what our favourite creatives are doing and then suddenly an hour has passed of us going pin, pin, pin. That's a whole hour we could have spent working on our own art and developing out own ideas. A beautifully curated Pinterest board can be great, but don't let your own art practice slip in the pursuit of inspiration.
Research can be an important part of any project, but don't let it get in the way of actually making. I fell down the research rabbit hole hard when I was completing my honours year at university and looking back I am just kicking myself that I wasted so much time gathering information before I started experimenting and making with my materials. I lost valuable time, and have now come to learn that while research and looking at precedents and gathering inspiration can be greta tools, there is sooo much to be learnt from just making. From getting to know your materials. From having an iterative art making process. Creating will lead to more creativity, where as it's likely that consuming excessively (note that I say excessively) will not. And hey, it's still super important for us to support our fellow makers and being a fan of Instagram isn't a bad thing. Just don't consume more than you make.
4. Eating Crappy Food & Getting Little Sleep
I feel this one kinda self explanatory. A lot of us will already know how important it is to have a healthy lifestyle. Get adequate sleep, move your body and keep a balanced diet. There is such a wealth of information out there and I am no expert with any of this so I can't really speak on this outside of how it can affect your creativity... When you feel like shit in your body. When you're tired, not eating well and not exercising there is a pretty solid chance that your creativity will deteriorate alongside your physical health. When our brain is unable to fire on all cylinders a lot of things become a little more challenging, like feeling creative and keeping up your art practice.
Of course, if you are struggling with your health in any way, chronic illness, recovery, even just when you have a cold. Don't forget to be gentle with yourself. It's totally ok to take more breaks, to take time off, to shift your priorities. Rest, and creative rest is super important! Which I of course spoke all about in the previous episode if you haven't already given that a listen.
Perfectionism is problematic. Perfectionism can paralyse us because we become so terrified to make bad art. We are so often scared to make bad art. But making bad art is still making art, and it's all incredibly subjective. We are our own worst critiques, and so how can we expect to improve if we're being so harsh on ourselves and our art that we cease making altogether?
Perfectionism is rooted in fear, and will often lead then to procrastination. And when you have fear driven procrastination we can end up sitting there going "I'm not gonna make anything because whatever I make it bad, and what I make has to be really amazing, it has to be perfect". But when we're not practising we're not giving ourselves the chance to improve.
So let yourself make bad art. No one has to see it! It can be just for you. Just because you make it doesn't mean you have to share it. Art can be deeply personal, and we have the fortune of being able to curate our social media and our websites and our Etsy's or whatever else. So if you want to keep your art to yourself, you can. No one can tell you what to do with your art. And you are absolutely good enough! The world needs you to make your art.
This is arguably the biggest of all six. I touched on this when talking about consuming more than creating.
Karen Walrond has an amazing quote that goes “comparison kills creativity. There is room for you. Nobody can do it with your voice, with your experience, with your insight”. And I’m not sure I have ever heard a truer statement.
Comparison can really mess you up. It can suck you in, and keep you out of the present and the place you actually are. It numbs your voice, stops you creating, and tells you you’re wrong. Comparison can allow us to think that our thoughts, opinions and art are not valid. That it's bad because it doesn't fit someone else's ideals or values. It has you thinking you need to dim your light. That X Y Z is wrong.
And that's going to stop us making and leave us feeling very uncreative.
So figure out what is for you, and what isn’t, who you are at your essence, and then stop seeking. Stop scrolling. Stop consuming. Throw it out, burn it, do whatever you gotta do so that you will stop comparing yourself and your art. Because it’s when you do this, that you can reclaim your power, your voice, your purpose and charge ahead with your blinkers on to leave a lasting legacy.
And NEVER. Never, ever, ever, sacrifice your authenticity for validation and approval.
I wish someone had told me this as I was growing up. I so desperately wanted to fit in, to feel validated, to feel accepted. And now as an adult I have spent years finding my voice. Learning who I am at my very core, every edge, curve, facet of my being, so that I can step into my truest self. So that I can authentically just be ME.
When I first started selling my ceramics I felt as though I didn’t have a style and needed one. Like getting sales would validate me as an artist. Like big commissions would prove to the world that I had made it, even if it meant sacrificing my integrity.
And in the end? It doesn’t mean a thing if its not authentically me. It becomes “work”, stresses, my creativity plummets, all because I’m not living my truth.
So creatives, what is it that you are compromising, hiding, not sharing, sacrificing, because you are chasing validation? Why? So let's stop comparing and forge our own paths yeah?
So there you have it! Embrace your creativity, figure out where you're currently allowing your creativity to be killed. I love sharing this stuff with you guys because it took me so long to overcome some of these and I want to help you guys live your best creative lives. If you have any others that speak true for you let me know! Message me on instagram, you can find me there as @thecreativecodepod
Until next time, have a beautiful day or night wherever you are in the world! Ciao