Following is a bonus post for a taste of my upcoming class 5 EASY WAYS TO KICKSTART CREATIVITY, which will be held Tuesday, March 13th, 2018. If you attend you'll discover 5 quick and easy ways to be creative. Hope to see you there.
A tumbler I made when I was rested and relaxed.
HOW TO BE A CREATIVE BEING INSTEAD OF A CREATIVE DOING
The title is a bit of a twist on the saying, “Be a human being instead of a human doing.” A too-true and too-common piece of advice.
It’s even truer with being creative or a creative being. We creators tend to be perpetual doings. We work, work, create, create, create—to the point of exhaustion. Then, too often, completely deleted of inspiration, discipline and energy, we crash. Sometimes that destroys our creating for way too long. Often when we’re on the brink of collapsing the work we manage to do is awful, or at least not useful.
Why are we doings instead of beings? It’s not just that our culture supports and encourages workaholics. Many people take breaks and vacations and really take them. They lay on a beach instead of attending a workshop or conference. So why?
One reason is that we can imagine creating a ton of stuff, because being creative is being imaginative. And part of that imagining is believing we can do it all quickly. And all of it all at once. It’s possible!
Our time and energy are limitless!
Nope. Our time and energy are short and limited.
Another reason is that we do know that life and time are short, which means that our creation time is short. The desire to do as much as possible is understandable. Adding to the problem is we can imagine all sorts of creative things we ache to accomplish.
We enjoy creating. We enjoy the activity, the work. We enjoy doing a lot of it. So that’s what we do, to the point that we’re so depleted we can begin to hate our creative work. Or at least no longer feel the joy. Instead creating can become a guilt-fueled obligation (“I said I was a writer and I have to flog myself to write more to prove it!).
Perhaps the biggest reason to be a Doing is fear. Fear of failure, fear of not being quite good enough, maybe even fear of success (I’d better work hard now. When I’m successful, I’ll have to work twice as hard and I’m already working as hard as I can!).
With these reasons, what are some of the things we creative types can do to become a creative being?
1. Accept that working is a habit.
Overworking is part cultural (especially in the puritanical U.S.). Some of doing is habit. We’re not supposed to “goof off,” that’s lazy and makes us a bad person. We’re not supposed to “veg out” with a book, or watching TV, or playing on the internet, or taking a nap, or worse, just sitting still.
Teach yourself to catch when you’re working because that’s what you always do. Stop. Be. Exist. Breathe. Take a break. Watch TV.
2. Make a habit of taking breaks.
Accept that you’ve worked hard enough, perhaps too hard, and take breaks. Work (heh, heh) to schedule breaks throughout your hours. If possible, at your job take your lunch break as a break. Do something fun for a few minutes.
Or do what I used to do when I worked for a physically and mentally tiring job. I’d bring my lunch, eat it, and then go out to my car for a 20 minute nap. It worked great!
3. Forgive yourself.
We’re all human. No matter how much we want to work all the time, it’s not possible. So forgive yourself for those times when you’re not effective and focused. Forgive yourself for those times when you’re too tired to work—especially when it’s not for a reason you can find. Sometimes we need a break for no reason.
4. List the benefits of breaks.
I know that for myself, when I take a break or even a vacation from my work, I return invigorated and energized. I work faster, with more focus.
Also, in the hour to hour scheme of creating, I tend to make far fewer mistakes when I take breaks and relax and rest. When I push past the time to quit for the day, that’s when I accidently delete a day’s work from my laptop! Too tired.
5. Listen to your body.
There’s nothing better than your body for yelling at you when it’s time to take a break. Sore neck? Back ache? Or just a general ick feeling? Time to relax a bit.
6. Listen to your emotions.
Are you in a cranky, crabby mood? It might be a strong signal that you’re overdoing. Or are you fuzzy, dull headed, maybe disconnected from the world? Again, take a break.
7. List what you enjoy for a break.
This can be the hardest thing for us Doings. We’re so unused to not working, or thinking about working, or feeling guilty about not working, or being too tired and depleted from working that we struggle to rest and relax.
Make a list of fun for you things. No judgment! If it’s take a nap, sure. One of my favorites is lying in a hot bath and reading. Another is watching TV. Of course, it can be more active than that—I love walking my dog, or going for a swim (not with my dog, he hates water).
Try these seven ways and become a Being not a Doing!