10 Ways to Recover Your Creativity (and Experience Joy)

by Karl Smerecnik on July 21, 2011

“Why should we all use our creative power…? Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold, and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money.” – Brenda Ueland

Photo by Salendron

Our individual creativity is one of the most unique aspects of who we are. Our creativity connects us with our deepest longings. When we act from our creativity, it offers us not only a sense of aliveness, but a way of joyfully contributing to the world. Creativity is a process, a continual authentic connection with our deepest passions that naturally awakens a new way of seeing and doing.

Creativity can become blocked when we spend too much time following the way other people think and act. Recovering our creativity often requires rather unorthodox practices. If some seem a little silly, uncomfortable, or pointless to you, than that is even a better reason to do them because it will help to break through to new ways of imagining and creating. I recommend doing these activities alone. This will help to really connect with and better hear your own voice of creativity.

“The most potent muse of all is our own inner child.” – Stephen Nachmanovitch

10 Ways to Recover Your Creativity (and Experience Joy)*

1. Go Wandering

Go somewhere new, or maybe even somewhere familiar, and wander without a goal of trying to reach a destination. Cultivate awareness of your surroundings. Wandering frees you from a results oriented mindset and allows you to live very present to what is immediately around you.

2. Write a Short Story

Write a short story about whatever comes to mind, the weirder the better. Or if you need a prompt, look around your house and pick the first object that stands out to you. Now write a story about it. It doesn’t have to have a moral, nor even a traditional plot line. The purpose is to dig within yourself and revitalize your creative play.

3. Reconnect with an Old Hobby

What is a hobby that you have always loved but haven’t done in a long time? Photography? Dancing? Fishing? Sewing? Baking? Drawing? Pick an evening this week and dedicate it to doing a favorite hobby by yourself.

4. Write Favorites Lists

On a blank piece of paper, start writing lists of your favorite things. What is it that you love to do, see, smell, taste, feel, or hear? This simple act can sometimes ignite a great amount of creative energy. The goal is to then start incorporating as many of those things as possible into your life. Repeat this process as often as possible.

5. Sit and Watch

Sit on a bench and watch the world go by. Whether it is in a secluded natural park or a busy public square, the important part is to just closely observe without too much thinking. Start by being very present to everything you are experiencing, focus on each of your senses. Eventually just let your mind wander and see what comes up.

6. Use your Imagination

Imagine what you would do if you had an endless supply of money but could not spend it on buying new possessions. Where would you go and what would you do? Imagine you had one super power, what would it be and what would you do with it? Imagine you lived in a different time period and a different place (feel free to use an idealized fantasy of that time). Who would you be and what would you do? Write it down, it will help get you deeper into your imagination.

7. Visit a Museum

Spend a day exploring a museum. Read the description placards. Imagine what you would write about what you are seeing. Go on a guided tour. Take time to sit and contemplate a piece of art or an exhibit on display. Visit the museum store and browse the books. If you are feeling bored after a short while, try staying a little longer and see if you can connect with something in the environment that brings you aliveness.

8. Go to a Workshop

Ideally, it will be a workshop or class on something you have never tried before but find interesting. How about a Tango class? Wood working for beginners? A gourmet cooking class? Poetry workshop? If money is a concern, there is usually a number of free workshops available in most cities. Try something new and see if it incites your creative muse. Do it with an attitude of non-attachment to any results. It’s an opportunity to play.

9. Browse Books in a Library

Go to your library and wander the aisles. Don’t go with any particular intention of what you will read. When a book stands out to you, pick it off the shelf and hold on to it. Get about five books and then find a comfy seat. Leisurely skim through them and stop to read when you come across something interesting. The purpose of this is to follow the trail of your interests and see what creative feelings or ideas arise.

10. Spend Time in Nature

Leave your city or town behind and head to the great outdoors. Even if it’s just a day trip or you are just going to a city park, the rhythms of nature will rejuvenate and awaken your creativity. Go slowly, really pay attention to the details. Try to go somewhere without a lot of people so that you don’t get distracted.

Now it’s your turn, share your favorite way to recover creativity. 

*In my own creative recovery, I have been using the book The Artist’s Way. Though I did not reference the book to make this list, it undoubtedly had an influence on me.

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