Nurturing Your Creativity

One of my knitting projects, Eduardo, sporting a paper pirate hat.

Part of building a sustainable creative life (the subject of yesterday’s post) is nurturing your creativity. But what do we mean when we say “nurturing your creativity”?

Part of it is writing what you love so that writing doesn’t become a chore.

The other part is doing things that fuel your creativity.

Write what you love.  Sounds easy, doesn’t it?  After all, what kind of nut would spend hours and hours doing writing she doesn’t love?  A nut who has a contract.  A nut who needs to earn a living with her writing and finds herself doing something she really, really dislikes.

The fact of the matter is that if you need to make your living as a writer, you will sometimes end up writing things that simply are not fun.  What do you do? In part, you suck it up.  We all need an income.  It has something to do with needing food and clothes and someplace to live.

But you also make sure that you have time to do the writing you love.  Make sure that your writing to-do list includes at least one project that makes you want to dance.  You know the kind of dance I mean — that little happy foot thing that kids, and certain adults, do when they see a chocolate fountain in the middle of the dining room table.  At least part of every work week needs to be given over to that type of writing.

If all of the writing you do is simply because you expect it to pay, then you are not fueling your creativity.

Another part of fueling your creativity is doing other creative things.  Just what depends entirely on you.  I knit, do kirigami and make cards.  I’ve also started doing the sketching exercises at Rich Davis’s blog.  I bake bread and make desserts.

Fueling your creativity also means doing things that aren’t necessarily creative just because they make you smile.  I read.  I play computer games.  I also have people over — think food, wine, and that chocolate fountain.

Last but not least, fueling your creativity means keeping yourself healthy.  Get enough sleep — getting up at 4 am to write if it means you only get 4 hours sleep is probably a bad idea.  Make time to move — this might mean going to the gym or simply strolling through a city garden.  But get up and move.  Don’t spend all your time seated at the computer.

Do these four things — write something you love, do other creative things, do things that are just plain fun, and take care of yourself — and you might be surprised just how creative you become.