Does your typical day involve mouse-clicks, coffee sips, and about five zillion screens? Do you march through your weekday routine on autopilot, checking off the internal to-do list like a robot? It wasn’t always this way, you know.
There were those of us that cartwheeled through childhood, our imaginations limited only by the hours in the day. There were the elaborately staged backyard productions, poems written in sidewalk chalk, and impromptu masterpieces painted on refrigerator boxes. The possibilities around us were intoxicating.
But at some point during the transition from Crayolas to MacBooks we tucked our creativity into it’s snug little bed for a very, very long nap. And the longer she slept, the more distant of a memory she became.
Did she die? we wonder sadly. And then suddenly, our insides hint at her survival.
But at some point during the transition from Crayolas to MacBooks we tucked our creativity into it’s snug little bed for a very, very long nap.
Perhaps it happens when you’re buying school supplies for your son, “Buyme some fucking supplies,” she hollers while pounding her fists on your chest.
Or maybe it’s when your colleague is waxing on about his self-published sci-fi novel in the break room that you hear her say, “If dip-shit Devon can write a novel, then you certainly can!”.
It may even happen when you’re sitting by your husband for your fourth viewing of PBS’s Lord of the Dance. “Remember when I used to tapdance myway to the dinner table every night and insist that the entire family applaud as I curtsied?” she nags. “Where are those standing ovations now?”.
Bottom line — your inner-creative is not dead. She is, in fact, highly revive-able. And the benefits of following the steps below will reach far beyond the confines of your cubicle. Reuniting with your creative spirit will send a welcomed shock-wave through the parts of you that completely suck.
I’m not just blowing smoke here. I’m walking the walk. After stifling my own creative screams for nearly a decade, I’ve opened the floodgates. And in turn, life has opened back up to me. The possibilities are intoxicating.
1. Have A Chat with Your Second-Grade Self
Sit down at your desk with a pencil and paper. Not a laptop or a smartphone. I’m talking old school. Write her a letter. Tell her what you miss. Reflect on the moments that were brightest for you. Let her know you remember what she wanted to be when she grew up. Warn her about possible missteps.
If approached gently and vulnerably, you will leave this process with a really strong sense of her wants and needs. End the letter with a promise of what you can give back to her.
2. Find An Entourage
Review your current list of supporting characters. If your posse is void of creative types (writers, artists, musicians, dancers, craftsman, bookworms, and general weirdos) it’s time to “date” around. You know your niche and you know how to use the internet. Start searching.
Whether it’s a Meetup, a catalog for continuing ed, or a commitment to frequenting haunts that attract like-minded talents, you have to take the plunge. After years off the right-brained bandwagon, I found this step quite terrifying. But guess what? I found my entourage.
3. Crown Your Creative Outlet a Habit
If you can commit to clipping your nails every Sunday and cooking tacos every Tuesday, why not view your creative time in equally non-negotiable terms? Habit formation is all about repetition. It’s about creating anchors.
Ain’t nobody gonna mess with me between 6 and 7 am. That’s when I journal, dammit. That’s my sacred time. I’ve anchored myself to that routine by creating a quiet writing space, finding the pen and the notebook, and documenting my daily commitment on a goal-tracking app. My year plus “streak” is my digital gold.
4. Maintain Momentum
Once you provide your inner-creative with a bit of leeway, she won’t shut up. Everyday demands will tempt you to sedate her. And at times, it will seem easier to snuff out her nagging than to nurture her wholeheartedly. This is why you need reinforcements.
Call in your entourage. Message your life coach. Pull out your oil paints or new guitar strings or favorite book. It’s not the second grader in your belly that’s crapping out. It’s you. She’s ready. She’s jazzed. She is always desperate to play.
I adjust the yellow curtain on the opening of the cardboard box as my son excitedly crouches with a pink-snouted sock puppet on his right arm. My husband dutifully sits on the grass, facing the makeshift theater as my inner-second grader musters up her best announcer voice: “We proudly present the Talented Tap-Dancing Bovine Duo. . .”