Monday, January 11, 2021

Gearing Up for a New Year - Creativity

Art for your heart from my picture book Magic Carpet Night. 

It's January and folks are outlaying mucho moola on new planners, apps, and coaching classes to get the mojo juice flowing for 2021. We all know that most will fail. How do you keep yourself out of that group? Here's some advice: while everyone else is making new year's resolutions that will ultimately bomb, you can gear up in ways that will ensure success. The road map outlined here will help you energize your creativity and ensure that your work is popping, crackling, and snapping 

Creativity doesn't just happen. Don't listen to anyone who says you are a creative person; a chosen one imbued with this mysterious force. Creativity comes through hard work, experimentation, and vulnerability. These pillars are needed to keep the cauldron from being stagnant. Do you want to kick your production to a higher level? Do you want to do more than you have ever done before? Do you want to be standout original?  I'm going to break down these three pillars to help you on your journey. 

The first pillar is hard work. Sit butt in chair and hustle. You must layer effort with endurance. Ask yourself what is something you have worked hard for. Think about what led to your success and repurpose anything useful. For me, I make my bed every day. It gives me a win every morning and it also shows I can endure for freaking forever as long as I "KISS" it. Yes, you must make sure you keep it simple, Stupid. Endurance depends on small steps with reps. If you sit around saying you going to write that novel, paint that picture, sculpt that sculpture, knit that blanket, but watch TV and drink mimosas instead, you are going to create a big pile of nothing. 

So let's get downright practical. Write down a list of five short term projects that you want to take to completion and that you have the skills and knowledge to do. Be sure these projects are very specific. Write a rough draft, not write a book. Books come in stages: prewriting, rough draft, revision1, revsion2, revision3, final draft. I'm trusting you to list out ten reasonable short term projects. Now, until these five short term projects are complete, don't start anything else. Put any new ideas on the next projects list. (If you don't have a system to shut down distractions, you are going to be distracted.) Now, how to approach each project. Estimate the time it will take you to do it. You may need to do some research to make a good estimate. Block out that time in your schedule. Set a deadline. Now get a partner on board to check in with. Turn off the feeds!!! Finally, work, work, work.  

The next creativity pillar is experimentation. Get out of your comfort zone. I mean it. Think of something absolutely bonkers from your perspective to try. Learn a new language, dip a toe into ballroom dancing, try learning a martial art...whatever seems out of your reach but that you would like to give it a go. Experimentation welcomes failure. Study new methods and try them out. Open up to some new ideas. Put yourself in somebody else's shoes. Let your curiosity run wild. Learn things for the joy of learning them. If you don't block out time for experimentation, you are not going to have ah-ha moments this year, not one. 

Here's some nitty-gritty experimentation implementation. Pull out your calendar and fuel it up. Find the event in the local newspaper, message board, coffee shop...get yourself to any event that interests you and looks like it takes skill to make it happen. Challenge yourself. Watch a show that folks are flocking to that is not your thing,  and then think about why people are interested in it. Cook stuff in the kitchen. Grow stuff in the yard. Paint stuff on the walls. Go for walks and observe and think. Try the road less taken, at least by you. Bottom line. get out there and experiment, at least a few hours of your week need to be dedicated to experimentation. If you don't shake things up, I promise you will be stuck in a rut. 

The last creativity pillar is vulnerability. You must come out of your safety zone into exposed places.  Yes, you must deal. Go to therapy. Attend a self-help group. Join a community of faith. Begin a gratitude journal. Anything that you know will emotionally crack you open is a good idea. Most of us have things festering, and if you are not dealing with them, that stuff will choke your voice. You might need to off-load something in a relatively safe place, i.e. totally anonymous. There are tons of websites out there where you can share secrets. Have that conversation you keep putting off. Face your pain. Be brave, and you will soar. 

Being vulnerable is about knowing your weaknesses. Perhaps it is time to admit a few things about yourself. Are you a lazy one? A mean one? A disorganized one? Whatever. We all have our hangups. You want to change, but the last 4000 things you tried have failed. Feel your feelings, but then dust yourself off and try again. Vulnerability is naming your kryptonite and then keeping away from that stuff. If you are wondering about where to start, choose someone who knows you and loves you, and then ask them what you need to work on.  After you are finished being pissed about what they said, really think about it. One of the most vulnerable things you can do is listen. 

I hope I've stirred you up. Get into gear. This encouragement and right now is a great place to start. I love to jump into the deep end of the pool. The feeling of sinking deep into the water and then clawing my way back to the surface for the big breath. Some like to go into the pool one step at a time, slowly, until they get used to it. Gearing up your year is your journey. Do it your way. Be creative.

Here is a quote for your pocket. 

Creativity is contagious, pass it on. ~Albert Einstein

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