Squash Excuses To Boost Creativity

Squashing excuses for that block creativity

My dad had a beat-up old guitar that sat in the basement for most of my childhood. To him, it was something that he tried a few times and quit. He kept it for over two decades before donating it. There are things that peak your curiosity or may even ignite your creative passion. Yet, there are things that block creativity and keep you from making it habit or starting at all.

We all have a creative “seed” inside of us that lies dormant. We know it is in there when we come across something that nudges the it. What are our excuses for not nurturing that creative seed? What are things we can do to get pass the obstacles we put up?

Audit things that block creativity

What is in your life that grabbing your focus from being more creative? Some are tangible like work and family. Some are less so and may linger in your subconscious. These care beliefs and attitudes.

Priorities

The younger less focused version of me spent a lot of time and money watching independent film. I would track down theaters with the limiting showing. Read up on the directors and actors. Watched all of the films they did previously. During this time, I rarely drew anything.

Ramit Sethi once said that your calendar and your bank statement can show you your priorities. I was not always careful with either. My vision of creativity was to be free and wait for inspiration to appear. “Wait for the muse to visit me,” my art teacher once expressed. In the end, I spent a lot of time and money on things that did nothing to nurture my creativity, and my sketchbooks collected dust.

Now, I ask myself this question, “does this help nurture my creativity?”

Time

As a working adult, no one encourages you to be creative ever. They do expect you to do adult things like complete your work. So, scheduling a block of time in the middle of the day to do your creative project is frowned upon.

Squash excuses to boost creativity.

What can you do to clear off your excuses? Find the time on the edges of your calendar.

I have found that I am most successful in dedicating time to draw, write, etc. at times when no one is looking for me. That time is (gasp) at 4 A.M.. No one cares what I am doing at that time. It is awful to get up at that hour. However, to leave my creative seed dormant for a few hours more sleep is tragic.

Attitudes

What are the attitudes (internal and external) towards creative expressions? I grew up in a house that encouraged drawing and music when my siblings and I were young children. As we became high schoolers, the conversations shifted to college and focusing on our careers. Creativity moved into the background for us as hobbies.

This affected how often I drew. At a point, I stopped drawing entirely for years as I was finishing University and starting work.

Working on this project, I discovered that I have conflicts with lingering self-talk that challenges my desire to draw more. I do not hear anything from my family, spouse, friends, or co-workers. But I still hear that discouraging voice.

Squash those excuses

Experiment imperfectly

Creativity requires trying and failing. The cycle of experimenting helps stretch this muscle. The need for it to be perfect or to be a viable business kills creativity. Elizabeth Gilbert writes in her book, “Big Magic,” that we should allow our creativity to grow. Pressuring it to be well formed too soon can crush any desire to nurture it.

“Done is better than perfect,” is a quote that is on Facebook’s walls. It is often quoted in the design and development world. We crave the permission to fail. Ultimately, we need to grant it to ourselves.

Choose your focus wisely

What is this hobby or creative pursuit that you want to explore? How does it make you feel when you think about it? Is it something that is a interesting or is it something that jump starts your system? Marie Kondo, famed Organizing Consultant of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” refers to that feeling when “every cell in your body lights up!”

What you choose to spend a significant amount of time on should super charge you creatively. It is ok to explore new things. In the end, choose what you will help you grow.

Show your work!

When you feel comfortable enough, get your work out there. Show people that you are working on something. They will applaud the effort and thank you for inviting them on the journey.

People will judge regardless. You want encouraging and uplifting people to do that.

Interested in more posts on bringing creativity into work? Check these posts.

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Matt Eng

UX Research Team Lead at IBM Design. Based in Austin,TX. Worked with clients such as Alcatel-Lucent, Ogilvy, RBC, Deloitte, Whirlpool, Polycom, Symantec, and Pebble. Matt teaches, mentors, and speaks about design, creativity, and fostering stronger connections within teams.

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