Our creativity often comes from our experiences. A conversation with a friend, a trip we took, something we witnessed when walking down the street, they all add up. Some of the best stories we’ve read have come from real-life experiences and have characters that resemble someone the author knows. We absorb a lot more from our daily life than we realise and it’s not till it comes pouring out on a blank document that we notice.
Steve Jobs, no doubt one of the most creative minds to have graced the planet, observed that people draw creativity from connecting their life experiences. The more experiences a person has, the broader their perspective. Our subconscious minds are constantly collecting information and playing join the dots and poof! One day you have a complete picture. What can we say? Creativity knows how to be creative.
Creativity blocks and other misadventures
Of course, there are times when everyone is faced with a creativity block, but what do we do? We step outside, take a walk in nature, distract ourselves with something else, and lo and behold, the ideas start to flow. Sometimes, all it takes is one more experience to complete the picture. The taste in your mouth when you first bite into a kebab roll, something someone says, or even just the smell of exhaust as a car zooms past.
And then one day we find ourselves in a lockdown. We have to practice social distancing and staying home. Our routine is thrown into disarray. We find our experiences start to dry up and our creativity along with it. We feel bored, unhappy, lonely, and even frustrated. We don’t like this new reality and so we start to shut it out.
We close our minds to the negative emotions and focus on thoughts inside our heads. We scroll through social media looking for signs of hope but only see more of the same news. We worry that we might get sick, we fear losing someone we love. Our thoughts become repetitive and stop being creative. We are in a mental lockdown.
Finding your spark again
The thing about routines is that they are created over years of repetition, and breaking them can be hard. It can cause a good amount of discomfort. It’s also hard to form a new routine on a whim. So, if the lockdown has thrown your mental and physical states out of whack, you need to understand that this is completely normal. The world is collectively going through a very strange phase right now and losing your creativity is not your fault. The first thing to do is to graciously accept that fact and then moving on to seeing what you can do about it.
Here's how you can open your mind once more:
Journal: When you’re bored and feeling at a loss for ideas, start to write everything down. Write about the feeling you woke up with, write about what you had for breakfast, even write about how nothing has changed since yesterday. Then write about what you can change, like your breakfast tomorrow; have scrambled eggs instead of an omelette, or aloo paratha instead of poha. If you’ve exercised today then write about that. If you haven’t, then write about what you can do right now as soon as you’re done journaling. Then get up and do it and write about it.
Read: Once you’ve written things down, it’s time to read what you’ve put down. What you will realise it that you continue to have life experiences. Different ones for sure, but they are still coming in. And the best part is that your subconscious is still furiously taking notes and trying to join the dots. Even in what could be mundane and boring times, our minds are still trying to create. Pay attention.
Do: It’s an already stressful period and trying to start a whole new daily routine can wear you out. So, don’t do that. Just do one thing that brings you joy. It could be cooking something, painting a picture, watching that movie that you’ve always wanted to, or finally researching the answer to the question that has been plaguing you. Give yourself an experience no matter how small it might seem.
The human mind is quite fascinating in its ability to stay positive and see the bright side of things. A 2009 study by the University of Kansas, published in Science Daily stated that People by nature are universally optimistic*. It’s in our very nature to bounce back. Plan to do one thing every day that you enjoy. You are not only giving yourself a new experience but also something to look forward to. This newfound optimism helps to open your mind and creativity can flow again.