Each of us is unique, and though we have common needs to be able to live and thrive, there’s an infinite amount of difference in the tiny details between us.
Yes we all need oxygen, water, food, shelter, sleep and so on. To be creative we need ideas, discipline, ability, focus, materials, motivation, this list could go on too.
But what motivates me to be creative isn’t going to be the same as what motivates you. I don’t necessarily create for the same reasons you create, and we certainly don’t create in the same way and in the same voice.
We’re creative individuals, and part of discovering and nurturing that individuality (and letting other people enjoy and appreciate it) is to find the best conditions for us to thrive.
A quick story as an example. A friend of mine bought me a beautiful gerbera plant, with 3 bright smiling yellow blooms. You couldn’t help but look at it and smile back. I placed it proudly on one of my bookshelves, and tried to take care of it.
But, to my horror and sadness, within a couple of weeks, the flowers had all curled over and died, and most of the leaves had wilted away, leaving only three green remaining. Not so green fingered as I thought.
Obviously, despite me doing what I thought was right for the plant, it didn’t like its conditions and was giving up in protest, refusing to bloom any more.
So rather than abandon hope completely and be branded a gerbera murderer, I decided to do two things. First, I moved it to a windowsill in my kitchen, where there was more ambient light, but not direct sunlight.
Secondly, I removed every stem and leaf that was not green and healthy. Which left a pretty sorry looking three leafed plant. I also made sure I gave it a little water every single day (before I had watered maybe twice a week), not so it was ever flooded, but so the soil was always moist.
Within about three days of the change of conditions, I noticed a tiny green shoot of a new leaf. Then a few days later another. And another. Now, a few weeks later, I can see a total of twelve leaves!
So what’s the point of me telling you about my heroic botanical rescue mission?
All the gerbera needed was the right conditions to thrive.
Although it’s in the same house and at the same temperature, that adjustment in how much light it gets, and how regularly it’s watered, means it’s now stronger than it’s ever been.
What kind of conditions does YOUR creativity need to thrive?
A plant is a pretty basic organism, it needs light, water, CO2 and a few soil nutrients to survive. Your creativity is a little more complex, and there are maybe a dozen or more different aspects you need to think about to be at your most highly creative.
But don’t throw out everything you’re doing at once and try to start all over again.
The first step is to look at what is already working well for you.
What does help you be creative? What systems and habits do you have in place? When you feel at your most creative, what’s going on, what are the surrounding conditions that allow you to be that creative? Observe yourself carefully and take notes.
As we just said, don’t try to change everything at once. If you do, and you end up more creative, you won’t be able to pinpoint which changes made you more creative. Likewise, if you end up less creative, you won’t know exactly what you did that caused that either.
Another point is to not make radical changes. I didn’t move my gerbera to a greenhouse and soak it in fertilizers or plant food. The changes in its conditions were very subtle, but the changes to its ability to thrive have been vast.
Maybe for you, creating half an hour earlier each day would make you more creative? Or in the afternoon instead of the morning? Or late at night? Maybe working in shorter, or longer creative bursts? Maybe working away from your usual surroundings?
The key is to gently experiment and find what works for you. It won’t be the same as what works for me, or for anyone else, we each have our own unique combination.
A last thought to consider. Remember with the gerbera I removed all the dead stems and leaves, so all the nutrients it received were going to support living, healthy leaves, not being wasted on dying ones?
Where are the dead leaves in your creative life?
What can you give up, reduce, and remove, that are simply holding you back and dragging you down?
Maybe old negative beliefs? Maybe unsupportive friends? Think carefully and get rid of any dying and decaying matter that’s suffocating your creativity.
Follow this plan slowly, changing one thing at a time, and gradually building your creative strength, and you can’t help but find your light and thrive…
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