How to Nuture Creativity

Nurturing creativity

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by Suzanne Falter-Barns

One of the really great things about creating your dream are those times when you go into a trance. That's when you look up after three hours and discover that the rest of the world has gone to bed while you've been creating your work of genius. And this is when your creativity is at its absolute sparkling best.

Here are some elements you can put in place that will help you slide into that exalted place more easily, and give your creative spirit the nurturing it needs.

1. Turn off the news and listen to music instead.

The creative part of your self is sensitive, easily upset by the negative stream that passes through the news desks of our nation. Therefore, limit or completely turn off the news. Once you wean yourself of it, you'll find that you really don't care what the headlines are. If you live alone, and like to have television or radio 'noise' in the background to keep you company, play music, books or poetry on tape, or positive talk radio.

2. Keep your work nearby.

Ideally, you'll have an office with a door that's right in your home. That way, if inspiration strikes while you're folding laundry, you can put down the sheets, walk upstairs and do something about it. (I was cooking dinner when I got the idea for this article.) When recording artist Stevie Wonder is on the road, he has a crew member whose sole job is to set up his keyboards wherever he is. In an interview with The New Yorker, Stevie stopped himself several times to go off and compose when a melodic theme popped into his head, right there in the middle of a backstage dressing room.

3. If you take a break, stay 'fuzzy'.

There's a certain fuzziness that comes with creating -- a loose-in-your-joints feeling that results from letting the creative flow pass through you. By all means try to hang on to this feeling, even when you need to take a break. Don't interrupt it with a lot of hard-edged activities like business calls, important decision-making, or reading financial mail. Instead, drift around, read a magazine, a book, or a letter from a friend, turn on music, play a game with your child. or cook a little food.

4. Always act on your instincts.

This is how some of the best research for your project will get done. Call up that friend whose name keeps floating across your mind; take that flyer that seems intriguing for reasons you can't quite figure out. If you listen to your instincts the first time, it's really much easier to get things done.

5. Keep note-making material handy wherever you are.

There should be small pads of paper, notebooks, or personal messagers sprinkled throughout your life. Put them in useful places like your car, the bathroom, and beside your bed, where the best ideas often strike. Use a personal messager or digital recording device to keep track of your ideas. This is a neat little recording gizmo often no bigger than a credit card, that can record 25 or even a couple hundred messages at a time … whenever and wherever the mood strikes. Some of them even come on key rings; many cost less than $10.

When you have a moment, you can copy these messages into your computer, daily planner, notes, or wherever the information needs to go.

6. Get out and see other people's work in your field.

Read trade journals, see exhibits or attend conferences. Get to know who and what is out there. Not only will this fill your head with ideas and ways to do things differently, it will give you inspiration on many fronts, including how to make your own work even more distinctive. You'll also learn things about your business you simply can't learn any other way, and possibly find your way to valuable collaborations or business partnerships.

7. Live and work in a beautiful place.

There is no substitute for natural beauty -- even if it's a sunset seen from an apartment on the twentieth floor. Having a view of nature, one way or another, is a wonderful way to keep the spirit flowing through your door and into your work. If you can't arrange a river view, put something natural in your surroundings that speaks to you, even it's a window full of house plants. Your soul will thank you, and your work will thrive.

8. Indulge in the other arts.

For decades, Woody Allen spent every Monday night playing his clarinet with a bar band at an Upper East Side jazz club in Manhattan. Steven King and Amy Tan have been known to play in a rock band called The Remainders. Michelangelo wrote sonnets and love songs, and even Paul McCartney has had exhibitions of his paintings. Spending some time fooling around with other forms of creative expression is not only enriching for your soul, it opens you up to new possibilities for your main creative work.

Suggestions for Further Reading

Author: Suzanne Falter-Barns may be contacted at [email protected]

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