The Blog Babe has some news to share – a new blog column on The Huffington Post! Last week, this article was posted in the Arts & Culture section of the HuffPost (click HERE for the original posting). Please read and enjoy…
Okay, let me just be clear: I do not believe that any of us can “run out” of or “kill” our creativity. There’s no way to “use it all up,” or “clean out the well.” That’s simply not possible, because creativity is so innate and built in to human beings.
However… there are ways to expand that creativity so it can flourish, and there are ways to squash that creativity so it feels completely forgotten.
Does that sound familiar? Have you ever felt like your creativity was squashed?
One of the ways to kill your creativity (in case you were wondering) is to spend too much time on social media. I could see someone making an argument that social media makes them more creative, in a way, and sure, it might give you some cool ideas, but just imagine this situation for a moment with me:
It’s 5:00 p.m. on a Wednesday night, and you have the evening to yourself. Your Facebook-addicted mind pulls you toward the social network, vying to find out if your co-worker has responded to your message and how many people have “liked” your photos from last weekend.
You can’t resist any longer, so you sign in and start peeping around. You feel justified when you see that your photo got 103 likes! You feel bummed out when you see that your ex-boyfriend is now happily married. You look at more of his photos, and see that he has a baby on the way, too. Damn. Now you’re officially bummed out.
During that 30 minutes (the 30 minutes that quickly turn into 45 and 60 minutes without you really realizing what’s happening), you could have put pen to paper and written a blog article. You could have schemed up a way to update your opt-in, or done a Sudoku puzzle or (if you’re an actor like me!) you could have worked on a Shakespeare monologue.
But you didn’t. You spent an hour on Facebook, and by the time you finally force yourself to shut down the computer, you feel kind of blue. You switch on the television and veg out until it’s time to go to bed.
Blah. Creativity squashed.
If we’re being really honest here, then yes, I admit that the picture I just painted for you has been me. Many times. It takes a conscious effort for me not to default into “checking Facebook” mode and instead doing something that actually is good for my brain.
Those times when I fail – when I lapse into obsessing over “likes” and friend requests – I find that my burning desire to be creative, the same desire that caused me to write plays, film scripts and start a theater company, is kind of, well, diminished.
And that will not be tolerated! Here’s what I do in those situations to get my spark back, reconnect with my life-force, get some juice going again.
Obviously, the first step is to take a break from social media. Set it aside. Realize that it’s not going to make or break your life, and just like spending hours playing a video game, you kinda feel dull inside when it’s all over.
#1: Go Outside
Oh, I love this one. I love it because being active on social media is inherently difficult when you’re outside. It’s hard to read what’s happening on your screen against the glare of the bright, smiling sun! And it’s difficult to even care what’s going on in the Twitterverse when there’s a beautiful bird serenading you on a tree branch!
I once heard Amy Jo Goddard, sex expert, say that “nature is full of sex.” It’s true! Nature is full of life-giving energy, full of a passion for being alive, full of an unapologetic drive to fill space and create more of itself.
Even if I step outside my Los Angeles door and I’m greeted with mostly concrete and a few brave trees, I feel better. Take a walk. Smell the smells, see the sights, breath the fresh air, let your mind wander and feel alive.
#2: Act on Your Ideas
Inevitably, you will get ideas when you walk. Maybe the idea is something as simple as, “Hm, I want crackers and cheese for a snack…” or maybe it’s as life changing as, “Hm, I think I want to move to Missouri when my lease is up.”
The ideas that you have when you’re walking in nature or spending time alone with yourself are valuable. They are your inner self saying, “Hey! Hey, here’s something that will move you forward. Here’s an idea that will make you feel alive and happy!”
Honor those ideas. Entertain them, at least. Follow the spark of interest and creativity!
#3: When All Else Fails, Color
My sister is obsessed with adult coloring books. Okay, maybe “obsessed” is too strong a word. She really likes them. She’ll sit down at the end of a long day and color these beautiful mandalas, for hours. Maybe she’ll listen to music or a podcast (I hear that “Serial” is all the rage these days), but she lets herself just be as she works on the coloring project.
I like this. Just “being” is so important, and it can completely change your mood or state of mind.
Whether it’s coloring or creating a project or doing a Sudoku puzzle (one of my recent favorites), take a little time to yourself. Let your mind wander. This is what I call juicing up. Refilling the tank. Hitting the reset button.
There’s nothing wrong with social media, of course; but we do have to remember that it’s completely addicting. I wouldn’t be surprised if social media addiction is a “thing” in my lifetime and people have to go to rehab facilities to detox (can you imagine? Not getting to see who liked your Instagram posts!? AHH! Kidding. But if you want to follow me on Instagram, that’s cool).
You know yourself and your style of creativity better than anyone, and I’d love to hear how you deal with staying creative on a day-to-day basis in the comments area, below!