I used to be the kind of person who waited for the muse to strike. I’d drop a project for days or weeks even until I felt in the mood to work on it. When my imagination was firing on all cylinders it felt amazing. In the fallow times it felt like I’d never have an idea again.
In some circles that seems to be the approved way, kind of romanticised. We have visions of poets and artists languishing in despair, waiting for the few nuggets of pure gold which suddenly appear every now and then. Like the rollercoaster is an essential part of the journey, it’s how you pay your dues. But when being creative became my job that had to change.
Go for a walk. It helps relieve any tensions and anxiety which keeps you out of the creative zone. Walking has also been found to stimulate the growth of new Brian cells and increased brain power can’t be bad. As a graphic designer I didn’t have the luxury of reclining on a chaise longue hand to my forehead. Instead when the ideas weren’t flowing I’d push through, wrestling with my designs, having sleepless nights and doing the best I could. I did usually get there in the end but it wasn’t a fun process and kind of sucked the joy out of what was supposed to be my dream jog.
Since then I’ve learned a lot through studying mindset techniques and I’ve found ways to win without the fight. Because your creative flow isn’t a mystical occurrence which only comes along when the stars align, you can actually find it any time. You just have to know where to look.
One of the beauties of your mind is that to a degree it can’t tell the difference between imagination and reality. Ever had a dream in which someone did you wrong and you wake up feeling shirty with them even though you know in reality they didn’t do anything? Ever imagined an unpleasant version of the future and felt frightened or worried? It’s the same mechanism at play which means when you remember a time when you were in flow you can actually create that flow mindset. Here’s how -
Often what’s stopping you from reaching that amazing flow state is anxiety or fear. We love being creative but we can also fear our efforts won’t be good enough and we’ll be judged by others. Those fears can keep you out of the zone because they take up your imagination filling it with scary visions.
They can also put you into fight or flight mode. You know, the mode you go into when you feel in danger and you can’t think straight because your mind and body are overwhelmed by the threat. It’s pretty much impossible to get into your flow when you feel like that so you need to change how you feel.
The breath is definitely underrated in its amazing ability to calm your body and mind. Maybe it’s because it’s easily available and free and we tend not to value the free and easy stuff. But a few minutes of breathing can really reduce fear and worry and bring you back into flow.
projects. Like any other part of your body your mind needs nutrition and rest but it also needs experiences, to see, feel, taste, smell, touch and move in as many different ways as possible. Because creativity at its essence is taking our experiences and creating links between them and seeing patterns that other people don’t see. So you need to feed your brain new experiences so it has more material to work on. Here are some ideas to try out.
These are some of the things which work for me, what about you? If you give them a go and let me know how you get on.