“If I had more time, of course I’d be more creative Dan… Well, once I got around to actually choosing a project to begin with – I have so many ideas.
Maybe that’s the real issue that’s blocking me? But then when I do pick something, it takes me ages to finish it – if I ever do finish it – because it has to be just right.
Oh, that sounds like a kind of perfectionism. Maybe that’s the underlying problem behind me not creating more?”
As a creativity coach, conversations like these are commonplace.
You know you’re not as creative as you’d like to be, as creative as you used to be, as creative as you have the potential to be again.
But then you start analysing why this might be.
And asking why is just an open invitation to our old friend procrastination…
Which, incidentally, might also be one of the other reasons you think you’re not creative anymore.
Whilst this might seem demoralising at first – how can you ever hope to overcome not just one or two barriers to creating, but a whole team of them – it’s actually good news.
It means not only that you don’t have to conquer them all in one go, it means you can start with any one of them.
Because all parts of our lives are intertwined, when we start to shift our perspective and make some positive progress in one area, it can’t help but have a positive effect on other areas too.
So by focusing on just one part, we’re actually indirectly helping the other parts moving along a little too.
I’d like to share a personal example.
At the start of this year, a few of us in our creative tribe, CCS, wanted to have a more positive relationship with our finances. As artists, as well as generally.
So a group began.
By taking a look at my own financial “health” let’s call it, over the last three months of last year, I could see that some things were good, others not so good.
So I started to make changes, and explore some of the ways I could do better.
An excellent resource I came across is called You Need A Budget. Their philosophy is built around four core “rules”, and it’s their rule one – give every dollar a job – that I’ve got most inspiration from so far.
Enough about the finances.
What came from focusing on one part of my life that I felt could be improved, was greater awareness and some encouraging progression.
What also evolved was an increased awareness of other parts of my life I’d like to build upon. Most pressingly, how I use my time.
I found that, in the same as when we don’t allocate a meaningful purpose to every pound or dollar or euro we earn, it slips through our fingers like a tiny wet bar of soap, when we don’t allocate meaningful purpose to our hours and days, they too are more likely to disappear down the drain before we realise.
A term that works for me, for both money and time, is this –
Focus, don’t fritter.
I’m trying to focus my finances on the essential and the meaningful (now, and in the future), not fritter it on the unnecessary.
And I’m taking the first steps in (re)focusing my time on the essential and the meaningful too, again rather than frittering it away on pursuits that are unrewarding and unnecessary.
Let’s return to our artist colleague whose conversation we heard at the top of the page.
They might not feel able to deal with overcoming the issues of finding more time, choosing just one project, embracing the beautiful flaws in their work that makes it uniquely theirs, and all this without procrastinating, and in one weekend.
But if they start somewhere (and really it doesn’t really matter where, as it’s all connected), they will be able to review, increase awareness, make plans to progress, then take those first tiny steps.
A day or a week or a month or three months later, the steps they will have taken will have inspired them to look at other areas of their creative life (and indeed their whole life), and start to make changes for the better there too.
While you’re here, let’s take a quick look at your own creative life.
What would you say has been the biggest obstacle to you feeling able to create more, in the last couple of months?
Name that obstacle, invite it over and get to know it better.
For example, you might ask –
– What would my creative life be like if this obstacle was reduced by 10%, by half, eliminated entirely?
– What can I do in the next day, the next week, the next month to make progress towards that?
– What are the most likely barriers to me taking this action, and how can I sidestep those?
These kind of questions will help you get started, in that one area.
Even just asking the questions – regardless of having an answer immediately available – will shift your perspective.
Your mind is highly creative – you’re an artist remember! Once you give it juicy questions like these it can’t help but lick its lips in glee, then get to work on finding useful and resourceful responses.
Then you can start to take action.
Wherever you start, start somewhere.
And not next month or next week, but today, right now.
Ask yourself a couple of those questions and see what you can put in motion.
Then focus, don’t fritter.
Once you do, you’ll wonder (like me) why you didn’t do it sooner.
Come over and tell us about the somewhere you’re going to start…
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