I used to be really bad at creativity.
The young version of me was an interesting fellow, riddled with paradoxes. I’m sure you can imagine. Full of youthful enthusiasm, blessed with abundant free time, my mind was constantly churning. Night and day, regardless of the task before me, idea fragments flowed thick and fast. Novels, TV shows, board games, computer games, stories – I couldn’t switch it off. And yet, I was not creative.
Why not? On the surface, I was ticking the boxes. I was inspired, I had ideas. I would feel so totally alive when wrestling with a new character, setting or game mechanic – there was nothing else like it. I could build wondrous worlds inside my head.
But that was where it always stopped. If I tried to get these thoughts onto the screen or page, I’d hit a roadblock. The images were there, but translating them to something tangible was difficult. Almost insurmountable. It took a lot of discipline to even half-heartedly churn out some rough notes. Suffice to say, I would not be able to run a blog like this.
What was I missing? A vital ingredient in the creative process, one that I didn’t know I was lacking: energy. I lacked the energy to transform the starbursts of inspiration into something, anything, outside my head.
Now, I was not a lethargic person. I was lively, I exercised, I went out with friends. But all that stuff is easy. What I lacked, without realising, were deep reserves of energy needed to drive the creative process. Applying yourself is mentally taxing, far more so than my hobbies like tennis and bushwalking. I had plenty of time and inspiration. But I didn’t have the stamina to properly use them.
You might be thinking that I’m nuts – I mean, how hard is it to write down your own thoughts? It‘s part of my job, so it’s not like I’m incapable of writing. But most people who are professionally creative will tell you the same thing – getting your thoughts out of your head is tough work. It takes enormous focus. You have to hold the thoughts in your mind in all their excruciating, rich detail, while paying attention to each word or brushstroke and how they fit together. All while silencing your internal critics and external distractions.
The Beating Heart of Creativity
Can you visualise the last time you felt creative or truly inspired? Maybe it was recently or maybe it was a little while ago. Picture what you were doing as you remember how it felt. This is a wonderful feeling, isn’t it? Perhaps it is a feeling of lightness, of joy. For some people it is a burning sensation, an intensity that you cannot ignore. However it feels for you, I’m sure it’s pleasant and familiar.
Now, as this inspiration returns, how else are you feeling? Do you notice that you are confident and happy? Maybe you are also generous, enthusiastic, a joy to be around. One thing I know you feel, even now as you remember, is more energy. Positive emotions drive each other. Happiness makes you charismatic. Love makes you generous. Energy – good, natural energy that flows from deep in your chest – increases, and is increased by, pleasant emotions.
Feeling creative makes you energetic, just as boosting your energy increases your creativity.
Energy was what was missing for me. Once I remedied this, everything changed. I could focus for long periods, long enough to convert inspiration into creative works. I was happier, healthier, wonderful to be around. Suddenly I had extra hours in the day… or so it felt. The deep satisfaction I often feel now amazes me.
It really is a linchpin for life. Just as you begin to feel the energy flow, you also feel powerful. Creativity is energy and energy is power.
Creative energy and energetic creativity. I have learned that the terms are interchangeable. If my thoughts are sluggish and ideas are stale, then I know it’s because my body or mind is rundown. Let the body rest and the mind will shine.
Many people don’t appreciate this truth until they discover it for themselves. People are often pleasantly surprised by the effects. While you feel creative energy bursting inside you, it makes your mind conjure brilliant ideas. It makes your thoughts quicker, your body stronger, your personality brighter. It makes your heart sing.
Drive Your Energy
I’m still young, though I’m well beyond my teenage years. Even so, I am more energetic than I have ever been. Each year makes me better, as it does to all of us. This blog is one outlet for my energy and creativity, and even so it would have been a struggle for me most of my life. Now, I feel like I’m holding back, like I have so much more to pour into this.
You are curious to discover if you can create this feeling at will. You realise that you can, don’t you? Your energy, your creativity, your love and charisma, it all comes from the same place. The good news is that you can take responsibility for your own energy levels. Environment and genetics play a role, but how you treat your mind and body are the main drivers of your energy.
Nurturing creativity is essential. It is also simple. Give your mind time to breathe – put away the distractions and stare at the sky. Record every thought and idea fragment without judgement – great ideas look like bad ones at first glance.
Stoke the fires within. Many people find that just the word ‘creativity’ can make energy from nothing.
Your brain has two operating modes: focused intensity and diffuse playfulness. Do you want to focus on what you want, or do you want to relax and let your mind tell you? Both answers are fine, as people prefer different approaches. The best results come from knowing when to use each.
Enjoy the process. Savour your increasing energy. Don’t let the creativity overwhelm you.
Measure your personal energy. Find what drains you and cut it loose. Indulge in what makes you stronger.
Growth mindsets teach us that energy and creativity are skills you can master. You might not understand the value of a growth mindset. Schools don’t teach it and neither do businesses, but they are a valuable jewel to adorn your crown.
Take ownership of your energy. Cultivate it. Create it. Never look back.