To borrow from an AA slogan, creativity works when you work it.
Creativity is like a muscle in that regard, strengthening from continued use. Repetition builds in muscle memory, and pretty soon you’re able to do your activity without consciously thinking about it.
But underneath—just like your muscles—your creative spirit soars each time you put it to use. I’d even venture that endorphin high you get from exercise matches the creative high.
There are days the creative spigot doesn’t turn on. No need to panic. Think of the times in the gym you’ve been reminded to rest the muscles you’ve strengthened, so you can build them anew the next day. Taking a break allows for recovery—whether muscular or creative—and for creative practitioners, it builds the desire to create the next day, making space for new ideas to flow in.
Getting in the flow comes more naturally with practice, and that’s what creativity is—a practice. You’ve heard people talk all your life about tennis practice, their yoga practice, practicing piano—and creativity is no different. Call it work, if you want to (though mostly, I’d call it fun) because often times it’s hard. There are times when every brush stroke laid on the canvas is too thick, too weak, too wobbly. There are days when every word typed is painstakingly slow and hard-won. But who ever said every creative impulse would be perfect?
If perfection is what you’re after, perhaps you ought to look elsewhere than the creative game. Because it’s a practice, a lifelong practice, and the journey is the reason to get on the creativity train. Look out the windows while you enjoy the ride. When the train hits some bumpy track, roll with it.
Don’t fight it. Creativity is a choice. Once you make it, the ups, and the downs, are the fun part. ♣
Hat tip to AA for the inspiration: It works if you work it!