Do you know that you are literally hard-wired to be creative? This divine impulse to make things is often ignored to our own detriment. Researcher Brene Brown says it this way, “Unused creativity is not benign. It metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgement, sorrow, shame.” So if our Maker actually gave us creative instincts that are as fundamental to our make-up as breathing, how can we encourage them so we can live a fuller and more satisfying life?
1. Embrace Quiet
You know what kills creativity more than anything else? The constant connectivity that our culture thinks is necessary for survival. When there is no white space in your life, there is no opportunity for those deeper ideas to bubble up to the surface. Don’t know where to start? The Bible says if you will be still you will know. Perhaps, my creative friend, it is time to unplug.
2. Find Time, not Excuses
Get up earlier. Stay up later. Use free moments that crop up during the day. There is always space in our lives for what we prioritize. Consciously make yourself the architect of your day, carefully making space to make something beautiful (or not so beautiful). Since I have had children, I have found that the most productive hours I have are the ones before they are up. I’m not a morning person, but I am making the sacrifice because doing creative work energizes me. Connecting with your deeper “why” can help motivate you to make the changes in your schedule that are necessary.
3. Remove Suffocating Stereotypes
The first artist we meet in the bible is Bezalel. You can read about him in Exodus 31. What I want you to notice as you read about him is how many different skills he had. He was not incarcerated by some small definition of who he was as a creative being. Just as he was invited by God to “work in every craft” we can issue an invitation to ourselves to be creative in as many areas as we feel so lead. Wow, what freedom and what a difference from current society which wants to slap us each with a single label.
4. Be Playful
What if I told you that lots of what you make when you’re being creative won’t be good and that’s okay? Stuart Brown, an expert on play wrote, “True play that comes from our own inner needs and desires is the only path to finding lasting joy and satisfaction in our work.” What a concept! If we want to stay satisfied over the long-haul we have to find ways to embrace the messiness that comes with play.
5. Curate Your Inputs
T.D. Jakes says, “Greatness inspires greatness. Creativity inspires creativity. When you align yourself with people who inspire you and help draw out the best in you, you find your best self.” In the age of technology we don’t have to be in the same room with these people. One of my mentors lives three hours away. Another lives almost 12 hours away. I am listening to talks and reading a little every single day. Think about these sources as fertilizer for the seeds lying dormant within you that are just waiting for the opportunity to burst to life.
6. Work in obscurity
Do you know that sometimes adding the sharing component can pollute what we make? I know it’s a wild concept in this day and age, but not everything we create needs to be broadcast! Some seeds need to grow in the ground and in the dark a while. I don’t think it is any accident that Jesus first comes on the scene in ministry when he is 30. He had time outside of the spotlight to figure things out, to know himself, to perhaps experience some challenges that didn’t need to be seen by the world. When you prepare and create in obscurity it means that when God opens the doors of opportunity for you, you are already ready to walk through.
7. Coax your creativity back to life when the flame burns low
There are moments when passion grows dim for all of us. In these moments, you have to reengage with what brought you to the dance. Consider what made you fall in love with this mode of creativity in the first place and start there. For my horn students, when I see this flagging of motivation and desire I pull out some things that will remind them why they first fell in love with the instrument. For us that often includes playing through movie themes from “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” by John Williams together or playing along with some really inspiring recordings. These low moments are times to gently blow on the embers in ways that will reinvigorate your passion without accidentally putting out the fire altogether.
8. Be consistent
What if you put time on your calendar daily to engage with your creative muse? What if you embraced the process-oriented nature of these times so that it was more about allowing room for this work consistently and persevering through lots of messy experiments than it was about coming out with a polished product? What if you held yourself accountable to finish something rather than just starting projects and never coming back to them? Elizabeth Gilbert simply says about creative work, “Done is better than good.” Eventually, getting things done might lead to something great. The Proverbs say, “diligent hands bring wealth.” You never know what your creative endeavors might lead to if you give them consistent space and time.
9. Consult the Divine Expert
In the Bible, God is called Elohim over 2,300 times. This name of God refers to his creative nature. When the Bible says in Isaiah 2:3 that God will ‘teach us of His ways,’ let’s keep in mind that if one His most frequently used names in scripture points to His creative genius, don’t you think He can guide us in this area? I literally have a section in my prayer journal labeled “Creative Zone.” This reminds me to make time to invite Elohim into this area of my life, seeking His direction, inspiration and guidance.
10. Seek Feedback from Trustworthy Sources
Creative work by its nature is a vulnerable endeavor, so we want to be careful who we share our work with, especially in its nascent stages. Thoughtfully consider who you can show your work to that is trustworthy and who will give you valuable feedback and input. Keep in mind that we cannot be fruitful in a vacuum… our relationships are key! The Bible reminds us that “iron sharpens iron,” so a good thought-partner won’t just tell you how great everything is. They will also encourage you to grow in areas that will make your creative output even better.
In closing consider this. What if we came with a manufacturers’ manual that said we would function best, last longest and be most satisfied if we engaged whole-heartedly in creative endeavors on a regular basis? Whether it is cooking or crafting, painting or dancing, writing or composing…. let’s embrace how the creator wired us and just see if we’ll experience a little more of that joy unspeakable and full of glory that we keep hearing about.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below about ways you continually ignite your creativity.
2020 Copyright by Misty Tolle
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