by Jessica Lyons
Ebbs and flows. A deluge or a drought. Sometimes you’re absolutely swimming in your creative endeavors and then it’s as though the well dried up. There’s nothing left.
The secret is that your personal Muse — let’s call her Creativity — doesn’t just show up. Creativity needs time and space to be able to produce art. She’s high-maintenance that way.
The truth is Creativity and I are newfound collaborators. Sometime in my childhood, I developed a belief that I wasn’t creative. My mom was, my sister was, but I lacked that gene. I made my mom halt my art lessons, and I focused on getting A’s at school.
Fast-forward to college graduation. I accepted an alternative teaching position. Translation: I had passion but no background in education. I was at work or in training for 12 and 14 hours at a time while I adjusted. Creativity and I did not hang out.
Then I moved to Portland, Oregon, where I found people who carefully crafted relationships with their Muses (what else do you do when it rains nine months out of the year?).
I have been on a five-year journey, traversing the expanse of the United States — twice — and surrounding myself with teachers, coaches, and circles of creative folk to develop a relationship with my Creativity. Developing that relationship has led to new endeavors, a new business, and partnerships that I never would have dreamed of.
Along the way, I have learned a few things about wooing Creativity:
1. Figure out what time of day your inspiration is most likely to bowl you over.
Tapping into your inner body rhythms can be pretty powerful. Are you a night owl or a morning bird? Are afternoons your jam or do you need a nap at 2 p.m.? Taking advantage of your natural rhythms will allow you to set up the right structure to open the gates of Creativity.
2. Take note of where you are most inspired.
I wish I got good ideas in the shower, as so many people seem to do. But mine conveniently pummel me as I’m walk-running to the metro on the way to work. For some reason, physical movement opens floodgates. Instead of fighting it or hoping the ideas come back (they don’t always), I use Evernote to leave myself voice messages or type a new note as I hop on the train. You might find you are most creative in a certain spot in your house, at a coffee shop, or in the park.
3. Once you’ve established the when and the where, stick to it!
When asked where his incredible ideas came from, Roald Dahl once said, “I’m very lucky that my inspiration strikes at exactly 9 a.m. EVERY day.” The man sat down every day whether he had an idea or not. Look at your calendar — right now — and block off time to do some creating on your current project. It’s up to you when and where you do it, but keep it consistent. The consistency tells your brain and your body, “HEY, it’s time to write, knit, paint, choreograph the hottest new salsa dance. It’s GO time!”
4. Keep your Muse inspired.
This is a big one. If your man doesn’t take you out, that’s going to cause an issue after a while. (Unless he makes a killer pad Thai at home and brings champagne. Then all is forgiven.) Your Muse needs inspiration to keep producing great art. Make a list of all the things you’d do if you had time or cash and all the things you’re curious about learning. Scan your list for one thing you could do this week.
5. Get a jump-start on your creativity.
Upon waking, we check our phones, listen to NPR while we make a morning cup of java, play an episode of “Serial” on the way to work, and we haven’t even sat down at the computer yet. All that consumption hampers our ability to create. Before you do anything else in the morning, spend a few minutes writing, drawing (doodling counts), dancing, playing your viola. Julia Cameron, author of “The Artist’s Way,” recommends starting your day with three pages of free-style writing. I find that a lot of my ideas come straight from my Artist’s Way Morning Pages.
6. Most important, practice compassion.
Taking these steps is a way of honoring a deep part of yourself. It’s an act of love and compassion. Talk well to Creativity. Say thanks. Appreciate your wonder. If your cup reaches empty, there’s no need for criticism. Take a nap. Creativity loves indulgence, and in our go-go-go world, sleep restores.
What practices do you use to stay inspired and keep creating?
Jessica Leigh Lyons is a life coach who works with women to help them create a life of joy. She is also a Desire Map facilitator. She can be found online at jessicaleighlyons.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.