How to Increase Creativity & Discipline (video)
In discovering how to be more creative, you can’t skip the aspect of discipline. A common misunderstanding every creative comes to realize is that being creative doesn’t require inspiration. Whether the muse comes to play that day or not, you must show up and work your creative muscle regardless. Sometimes I even wonder if ‘genius’ is correlated, simply, with how prolific one is—the more you create, the more likely you are to stumble upon something exceptional. Whether it is the skill you’ve developed from hours and hours of creating or simply the luck of striking gold in the coal mine of your talent, does it really matter? Either way, creativity and discipline require one another; here are eight ways to integrate more of each in your life.
Get the Bullshit Out of Your System
We all talk to ourselves in our heads all damn day. And these constant conversations often get in the way of our creativity. Which is why a daily practice of either freewriting three pages in your journal or 1000 words in a document is super helpful. Freewriting simply means writing whatever comes to your brain; these pages or words are not meant to be creative in and off themselves, rather they’re the equivalent of taking out your brain trash.
Switch Mediums Just for Fun
We get caught up in being good at something and forget to just enjoy it. An easy way to step out of that mode is to try something completely different. Do I paint well? No. Do I thoroughly enjoy painting? You betcha. Switching mediums is also a great way to be creative when you’re feeling stuck in your usual medium. I enjoy creating collages with magazine photos for this reason; it allows me the freedom of just feeling good about what I’m creating, and I often find I’ll get inspirations for my usual medium while I’m enjoying the mindlessness of something completely different.
Keep a Journal with a Habit Tracker
I find that having a page in my journal dedicated to tracking a small list of habits makes me far more accountable to myself. Alternatively, you can create a specific page for a specific goal. For example, I recently got back into the practice of writing 1000 words a day and created a page in my journal to track having done so each day for 30 days. If keeping a habit tracker isn’t a method that works for you, explore what does. How are you able to hold yourself accountable to yourself? Use some method in a productive way to move forward with what you know you want to do.
Make of List of Things that Inspire You
Having a list of things that inspire you is a big help when you’re feeling stuck or blocked. It can also help you get into the right headspace and feel passionate about what you already know you love to do. For me, I’m inspired by open poetry or mic nights, seeing a show or concert, listening to soft jazz that sounds like it would play in a cafe or bookstore, watching certain youtubers (such as Minnie Smalls), taking an online class (i’m currently taking the Judy Blume masterclass), listening to podcasts, watching TEDtalks (even ones not specifically about creativity), and creating mini vision boards on the pages of my journal. This is just my list; you can and should create your own list to refer to when needing a bit of a boost.
P.S. Want 10 Free Journal Prompts for Boosting your Creativity? Get yours here.
It just works. It tooks me eight years between learning about meditation (and its benefits) and actually meditating every day—don’t be like me! How do you meditate? Comfortably sit your booty in a chair, close your eyes, and focus on something other than your thoughts for twenty minutes—that’s it! Focus on the air conditioner, the heater, your breathing, or pick some meaningless mantra—just do it. I meditate first thing in the morning so I have no excuses to not do it; sometimes I even trick myself into getting out of bed by thinking of meditation as an extension of sleep (even though it’s completely different—hey, it works). Since adopting a consistent meditation practice, I’ve been able to stick with it because I feel the difference. Not only is it great for increased creativity, it helps lower my anxiety, and gives me more mental clarity.
Schedule Yourself into Your Day or Week
Easily the biggest obstacle to increased creativity is our busy schedules and hectic lives. Which is why it’s paramount that you schedule yourself and your creativity into your day or week. There are many ways to do this. For example, I’m a freelancer, so I do this by considering myself one of my clients. Someone else might schedule it into their calendar or put it in their planner. Also, release having to explain how you use your time to other people. If someone asks you to do something and you’ve schedule that time for your creativity, feel free to just say, “can’t; I have an appointment.” They won’t ask questions and you don’t have to explain yourself. However you choose to schedule it into your life, make it real by clearing space specifically for your creativity.
Be Aware of Your Hiccups
I like the word hiccups because it’s not so serious. Hiccups are the multitude of reasons, excuses, emotions, and limitations we use to not do what we know we want to do. For example: if I’m not aware that my trepidation is simply that feeling of reaching the edge of my comfort zone, I will procrastinate into forever. But if I bring the beauty and magic of awareness to what I’m feeling by labeling the emotion, its power to hold me back is thoroughly dissipated. If I say, “okay I know this is scary because it’s something I want and there are lots of unknowns along the way, but this is just a feeling and it can’t actually stop me from proceeding,” it loses all power. The beauty of facing our unknowns in this way is that, not only do we learn that those emotions don’t dictate the outcome, but we prove to ourselves that we are capable of moving forward anyway. Which means when we come to the edge of that comfort zone next time, it will be all the more easy to identify and proceed.
Consistently Reconnect with Why You’re Creating
Creativity is not for the likes, to become famous, to be validated, to be loved, or to be adored. The joy of creating is in the creating itself. Where it goes from there and who connects with it has nothing to do with you. Of course, you’ll want to do your best to send it flying out into the world. But none of that matters when you’re creating or once you’ve sent it out. You must always remember that creativity is about connecting with yourself and your magic, then feeling the exhilaration of bringing nothing into something. That is why you love to be creative. That is why it’s fulfilling. The rest is great and fun, but it’s not the reason you started creating in the first place. And when we get those two things mixed up, we replace the joy of creating with some external need for validation. Of course you want to succeed—that’s completely natural and fantastic— but you can’t consider the success of a piece while you’re creating it or you’ll freeze up, leave your seat of authenticity, and make total crap. Always, always, always remind yourself that creativity is worth your while in and off itself for no other reason than it feels good.
Remember: Be Gentle with Yourself.
Sometimes the greatest obstacle to more creativity and discipline is letting go of being creative and having more discipline. If you need rest and care, it doesn’t matter how many strategies you have in place to make yourself do shit. Sometimes you just need to take care of yourself, take the pressure off yourself, and get the rest you need. Remember to check in with yourself; ask yourself how you’re feeling and what would feel (even just slightly) better. Start there.
Do you have any tips for increasing creativity and discipline? Or maybe one of these ideas resonated with you—I’d love to know! Leave a comment down below.
P.S. Want more? Get your 10 Free Journaling Prompts for Increased Creativity here.