How to Cultivate a Lifestyle of Creativity

 
 

Creativity is a journey. Creating is not just something you do - it’s a way of life. A lifestyle. The topic of creativity is so broad, and there are a million different ways you can approach it. Everyone’s journey looks different, and I think we all have valuable lessons to offer each other. 

If you’ve been following me for long, you know that, for me, creativity looks like a whole lot of things.  

I recently got the chance to speak about creativity to a small group of people. Creativity is something I am incredibly passionate about. Because creativity has been a major part of my life, I had a hard time knowing where to start, and how to condense everything that I wanted to say. As I sifted through journal after journal, compiling the lessons I’ve learned over the years in my journey of creativity, I came up with some really helpful keys when it comes to approaching creativity. 

YOU ARE CREATIVE

Being creative is not something reserved for a select few. It’s not just for those super “artsy” people. We are ALL creative. 

Whether you love creating but feel stuck or uninspired, or you don’t think you’re creative at all, or maybe you want to be creative but you have no idea how to start, or perhaps you don’t think you’re qualified… maybe you’ve faced disappointment in the area of creativity, and the thought of creating makes you sick to your stomach or want to go hide under a rock… maybe you’re in a great place creatively… I’ve been in all of those stages at one point or another. Wherever you find yourself on the creative journey, this is for you. 

 
 

CREATIVITY COMES FROM REST

Distraction and busyness are the greatest enemies of creativity.

About five years ago, I spent five months traveling in Europe with my best friend. We’d both just come out of really busy seasons and desperately needed a break. Our primary goal was to fill up and rest, and to create as we went. We didn’t move around or explore much. We spent a month in Ireland, a couple weeks in Scotland, a month in England, and 3 months in Italy. We were pretty stationary - spending months at a time in one place. We spent our days reading and writing, eating and drinking wine, and basking in the beauty of each place we visited. I also spent a lot of time painting during those 5 months. 

I’d been painting for years at this point, but spending that amount of time filling up, resting, and creating shifted something in me. My style completely changed, and I grew so much as an artist and creative during this time. 

After this season of intense rest and creativity, I never thought I’d struggle with rest. I thought I’d cultivated a lifestyle of rest that I would carry with me the rest of my life. Basically, I thought I was a pro at resting. 

But how easy is it to rest when you don’t have any obligations?

Not long after returning from our travels, I entered into one of the busiest seasons of my life up to that point. My schedule was packed full. I wasn’t making rest a priority - at all. And I definitely wasn’t creating. Not regularly anyway. Because I thought rest came naturally to me, I never thought I’d need to actually be intentional about resting.

Lots of amazing things were happening in my life, but I’d forgotten what rest looked like, and how vital it is to your well being and a creative lifestyle. 

I felt dry and uninspired. Like I didn’t have anything to offer to myself, or to others. I felt like a shell of a human being, which is not a fun place to be. 

Finally I decided to make rest a priority. And I’ll confess, I’m still in the process of getting better at resting. I’m realizing that rest doesn’t come naturally to me, so I have to be intentional in choosing rest

It’s really hard to get filled up if we don’t sit still long enough. Think of it like trying to pour water into a moving cup. It might get a little bit of water in it, but most of the water is going to spill on the floor and be wasted. That’s what it’s like if we don’t sit still long enough to rest and fill up. 

In my experience, the more I take time to rest, the more I’m inspired to create. It’s almost like creativity is a natural byproduct of rest.

Creativity is a natural byproduct of rest.

We are more in tune with ourselves and who we are when we rest. I know personally, my confidence is immediately affected when I don’t rest. When we’re running on fumes, it’s way harder to fight insecurity that often shows it’s face when we try to create. Not to mention if we’re tired, the chances of us having the energy or resolve to create is next to none. And on a practical level, if we don’t actually make time to create, we never will. 

If we don't actually make time to create, we never will. 

Self care isn’t selfish. We can’t pour out what we don’t have to give. If we’re exhausted and depleted, the people around us suffer. Making rest a priority is so important, not only for ourselves and our creativity, but also for the people we love! 

If you don’t consider yourself creative, maybe ask yourself - have I made rest a priority in my life? Do I make time to create/ rest?

CREATIVITY REQUIRES PLAY

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” - Pablo Picasso

You don’t have to teach children to be creative. They just create. They build forts out of boxes and blankets, they build cities out of sticks and rocks, they create worlds from their imaginations. They draw and doodle. They can build anything out of whatever they can put their hands on. 

The creativity of a child is endless. And they have no fear of failing! In their minds, anything is possible. There is no doubt in their minds that they are meant to create, because it just comes naturally.  

If we approach creativity this way, the pressure is off! We don’t have to worry about getting it “right” the first time, or even the tenth time. 

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” - Pablo Picasso 

Play can look like anything really. What’s something you haven’t tried yet that you’ve always been interested in? What’s something you haven’t touched in years?

Maybe it looks like picking up the guitar you haven’t touched in years. Maybe it looks like taking a piano lesson. Maybe it looks like picking up the pencil or the pen. Or maybe it looks like experimenting with photography or taking photos with your phone! 

 
 

CREATIVITY IS A PROCESS

Comparison will suck the life out of creativity. Thoughts like, “Oh that’s their thing…”, or “I’ll never be as good as they are…”

If we feel like we have to be as good as the professionals, we’ll never start. The goal isn’t perfection. The goal is the process. 

Creativity is a process of discovery… and we all have to start somewhere. 

I loved to draw as a kid. I would draw and doodle and trace pictures of animals and flowers all the time. I guess you could say I’ve always been an artist at heart. 

But when I was learning… my drawings kind of looked a little terrifying.

But I was so proud of my artwork! As a kid, it never occurred to me that what I was drawing looked like gibberish. I just knew that I wanted and needed to create, regardless of what it looked like. 

Getting started might be a little messy. You might get frustrated somewhere along the process. But keep going. Push through. Because breakthrough is on the other side. And consistency is the only way to get better.

The goal isn’t perfection. The goal is the process. 

I’m a very detail and plan oriented person… neither of which scream “artsy or creative”. Much less “abstract artist”. My art projects in school consisted of a very specific plan, and I always started with the end in mind. 

My high school art teacher was a brilliant man, and he would constantly challenge me to “get outside my box”. In my head, I remember thinking, “That’s what I’m doing!” But he was relentless. And very kind. He challenged me daily to change my perspective on how I saw the world and creativity. 

Eventually something shifted. I began to realized that the more I let go of my need to have a plan and have all the answers (aka control), the more beautiful my art projects became.

I started painting outside of class and it became one of my favorite hobbies.

Now, painting for me consists of just having fun and playing with colors and textures and movement. There is no plan or formula. I let myself get lost in the process of creating and don’t worry myself much with the end result.

CREATIVITY CAN LOOK LIKE ANYTHING

Creativity can look like anything… and you don’t have to pick just one!

I used to think that I had to pick one thing to be good at and stick with that one thing. It was a major block for me. I love to do all sorts of creative things, but I thought that I would spread myself too thin if I tried to focus on too many things. So for years I primarily focused on honing my skills as a painter.

But recently I’ve been in a season where I’m discovering that I don’t “do creative things”, rather I am creative & I just get to be me and have fun and create - whatever that looks like! 

For me, creativity looks like a lot of different things: I still love to paint and doodle. I also love photography and writing. I love to host people in my home and cook delicious meals. I love creating beautiful environments. I love event planning, and singing, and playing piano and guitar. The list goes on. Some things I have a lot more experience and skill in - others are just things I like to dabble in and play with. 

Really, I just love to create and capture beauty. Everything else flows from there. And it can look like literally anything. 

Creativity can look like anything… and you don’t have to pick just one!

It can look like a hobby, part of your everyday life, or even your profession! The possibilities are endless.

 
 

You might still say, but Morgan, I don’t see anything about my job or life that’s creative right now. 

Even something as simple as problem-solving requires creativity. Life constantly requires creative solutions to problems or road blocks. So no matter your profession or your season of life, and whether you realize it or not… you are constantly required to be creative. 

 
 

CREATIVITY CAN BE SEASONAL

Creativity can be seasonal. Different seasons may require different creative focuses. I thought I’d paint in every season. Last year I hardly painted at all. My husband and I got engaged at the end of 2016, and spent half of 2017 wedding planning and working, and the other half getting adjusted to married life and building our photography + video business.

Trenton had started his business years before, but we started working together and using our combined creative strengths to build and grow it. 

I have an artsy eye and an out-of-the-box perspective, and Trenton is super left brained and technical in his approach to photography and creativity. Together we make a great team - while he’s focused on getting the lighting and gear just right to create a certain look, I work on styling products or creating a beautiful set and making sure everything looks aesthetically pleasing.

I also love to host, so when we have photoshoots in our studio apartment, I get to make coffee or tea or snacks and do everything I can to make our clients feel at home and comfortable. We love getting to spend the first 20 minutes or so chatting with our clients and getting to know them and setting them at ease before putting them in front of a camera.

I love love love getting to tell peoples’ stories through photography and video. We get to meet a lot of amazing people and be a part of some really neat projects. But because 2017 was filled to the brim with so many other amazing things, painting got placed on the back burner. 

I thought I was leaving painting behind. I didn’t see a place for it in my life anymore. It had been so long since I was consistently painting. I felt guilty for not keeping up with it, but painting just couldn’t be a main focus any more.

I didn’t realize that just like there are seasons in the natural, there are also seasons of creativity. Waves if you will. One season might focus heavily on one thing, only to shift to another in the next. And another season might focus on more than one area of creativity.

Just like there are seasons in the natural, there are also seasons of creativity.

Recently I’ve been in a new season of focusing on more than one thing. Really a season of focusing on all the things all at once. 

Now that the dust has settled from the last year, I have been able to hone in and focus on the things I really love to do. Painting, writing, photography… the list goes on and on! And I’m having lots of fun collaborating with other creatives as well in this season! I can’t believe I get to create for a living! I am bursting with anticipation and sheer thankfulness this year. 

Because seasons always change, I’m sure creativity will continue to come in waves for me - looking a little different with each passing season. But that’s the beauty of it. 

You don’t have to feel pressure about figuring out what “your thing” is. You just get to have fun, dream big, and create! Each season brings a fresh new wave of creativity.

 
 

TIPS ON CULTIVATING A LIFESTYLE OF CREATIVITY:

JOURNALING 

Journaling helps to activate your right brain and get those creative juices flowing. I rarely know what I’m thinking until I write it down. Once I get the clutter out of my head and flesh through what’s going on in my life and in my mind, I’m able to approach creativity so much easier and with fewer distractions! It usually just naturally flows out of me after that! I try to journal at least a couple of pages every single morning, while I drink my coffee.  

I had the opportunity to speak on creativity not long ago, and I basically came up with the entire outline while I was trying to finish journaling for the morning. I kept having to stop to write down all of my thoughts because they just kept coming the more I tried to write! 

Some questions to process + journal about: 

What are some areas of creativity that I can explore this week?

How can I live from a place of rest? 

What does living a lifestyle of creativity look like for me personally? 

What season of creativity am I in? 

What areas of creativity can I pursue in this season? 

GET INSPIRED

As creatives, it’s important to spend time getting inspired. What inspires you creatively? Being in nature? Browsing through Pinterest boards? Reading articles? Watching documentaries? Eating at a fun, new restaurant? Exploring an art gallery or museum? Figure out what inspires you, and go do that. Spend time every week getting inspired. 

CULTIVATE REST

It’s really hard to create when you’re exhausted and running on fumes. It’s impossible to create if we are filling all of our time with our to do lists, staring at our phones, our day-to-day responsibilities, and whatever else we do to keep ourselves “busy”. Take time to rest. To just sit and be. Give your heart and mind and body space to breathe. Soak up the silence. Or listen to peaceful music. Push pause on your to do lists, allow yourself to get bored even, and see what happens. Do something fun. Figure out what is restful for you, and go do that. Cultivate rest and watch your creativity increase. 

KILL COMPARISON: Celebrate + Learn from others

Comparison will suck the life out of creativity faster than anything else. Kill comparison by celebrating and learning from others. Celebrate people’s gifts and victories. We’re all in different stages of our creative journeys. Seek wisdom from people a little further down the road than you. And remember that we are a part of a whole. We get to be who we are, and let others be who they are! Each one of us is unique, and we get to bring our own unique gifts and flavors to the table. One person's creativity does not diminish your own. There is more than enough to go around. 

LEARN TO PLAY

Playing and experimenting is where creativity begins. Approach creativity with childlike curiosity, and see where it takes you! 

START!

It doesn’t have to be perfect. You just have to begin. Creativity is a process, and we all have to start somewhere.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” - Howard Thurman