If it's been a while since you last created consistently, it can feel like a huge challenge to return to creating anything at all, let alone completing a number of creative projects at once. In fact, you might feel you're so far from creativity, and so out of practice, you've lost the map and any hope of ever finding any kind of creative flow again.
However long it's been, and however far away you feel, there are ways we can all come back to creativity. Here's a simple 5-step plan to help:
- Remember what creating gives you that nothing else can. For you to return to creativity, there has to be a strong motivation. It's likely that the last time you remember creating, it didn't flow as freely as a river after the thaw of spring. So take your mind back to a time when you did create freely. Think about what creating gave you - what needs it satisfied - that nothing else can. The more you realise that creating is as crucial a part of your life as eating and sleeping, the more compelled you'll be to return to creativity.
- Pick one creative project, or one starting point to focus on. A classic reason for having your creativity appear to dry up completely is simply being overwhelmed by too many different ideas, materials and projects. It's impossible to develop every idea, use every material and complete every project. Once you accept that, it becomes easier to focus on one at a time and give it your best. Think of a heart surgeon in an operating theatre. If he has 10 patients opened up at once in that one theatre at different stages of surgery, how effective is he going to be, compared with having just one patient he can give his full focus and care to?! Pick just one patient! Er, I mean, just one project!
- Set aside time each and every day. Creating in bursts of energy works for some, but only when you have an underlying confidence, when your creativity is fighting fit. To develop this creative confidence and fitness, commit to creating for a minimum of 15 minutes each day. Our lives revolve around night and day, and a 24-hour calendar. It makes perfect sense to slot your creativity sessions into this, too, so it's as automatic as the other activities in your life you do at least once a day, like sleeping and eating.
- Focus on play, not product. Imagine you're on a train journey, sitting right up front with the driver and you look dead ahead for the whole journey, focusing only on that dot on the horizon that's your destination. When you arrive, someone asks what you saw along the way, what the scenery was like, whether you saw certain natural features, which stations were most busy and so on. You can't tell them very much! In fact, your journey would be nondescript and completely forgettable. The same happens with your creative projects if you focus only on the end product, the final destination. Instead enjoy the scenery as fully as you can at every stage of the journey.
- Build your confidence and creative time steadily. Confidence in creating, especially when you're returning after a non-creative period, doesn't magically reappear overnight. It takes steady, small steps, building as you go. Again, you can help yourself here by picking small projects, or breaking larger projects into more manageable chunks. Enjoy your creativity as you go (see step 4) but remember to congratulate yourself after each significant step you make. Don't wait until you finish a novel to celebrate--do it after each writing session and each chapter, to keep your confidence growing.
Follow these 5 steps to come back to creativity after a long period away. Remember to be kind to yourself too, take things one step at a time, and you'll soon be creating with confidence once more.