Plenty of experts will explain the benefits of a daily creative practice. This always used to baffle me a bit, because I once thought creativity was a feeling or a state of mind that would just magically show up, a spontaneous sense of inspiration worth seizing. Over time, I’ve realized that creativity is actually a practice, and flexing your creative muscles daily—especially when you don’t feel like it—is key to getting into the habit.
Lately, I’ve started taking one day off each week solely for myself (a definite privilege, and one I don’t take for granted). Through these daily respites, I’ve realized something about my relationship with creativity—even though I love to be creative, I’ll often deny myself the time to engage in creative practices. I’ll scroll through my phone as a way to avoid them. The more I ask myself both why I need creativity and why I’m avoiding it, the easier it has become to dive into creative practices more readily.
Today’s post is about making it easy to get started with your own creative practice (because, as I know from plenty of personal experience, getting started is usually the hardest part), no matter the headspace you’re in on any given day. Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed, have the blues, or are a bit scattered, these short practices can help flex your creative muscle in a way that is healing, inspiring, and, best of all, easy for anyone to do.
Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed, have the blues, or are a bit scattered, these short practices can help flex your creative muscle in a way that is healing, inspiring, and, best of all, easy for anyone to do.
When you want a burst of creativity but don’t know how to get into that mindset, these are a few of my favorite prompts to help you get started.
Before you start, get into the right headspace.
I like to start by finding a comfortable place to be still and connect with my body for a minute or two. Ask yourself what you need in this moment, and listen to the first answer that comes up.
Are you feeling stuck and stale inside your body? Are you feeling frenzied and mobilized? Are you feeling lethargic and down? All of these associations within the body are clues to what you need.
If you’re feeling restless…
…try dancing in your home for a few minutes (or half an hour!).
Or just make whatever movement your body wants you to do. Sometimes your body simply needs some form of release and the point with this practice is to do creative movement, whatever that may look like. My favorite song to dance to? “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa.
If you’re feeling bored or distracted…
Get a journal that’s solely for doodling so you have it as your go-to. I’ll get a pen I really like, grab a notebook, and give myself one objective: fill the page.
You can draw images or objects, or you can write words that pop into your head. I do the latter in my free-writing journal. I find that journaling after this process also tends to feel really good because the words that pop up often create interesting associations to inspire my writing.
If you’re feeling frenzied…
…try filling a page with cursive writing.
Sometimes when I’m frenzied, instead of meditating (which, don’t get me wrong, is beneficial in its own right!), I like to write in cursive with my favorite fountain pen. You can write simple phrases or sentences or, if you’d like, you can write a simple affirmation (e.g., “Slowing down is good for you”).
The process is about focusing on your penmanship and the flow of the pen on paper. I tend to find it really soothing.
If you’re feeling down…
I think painting can be a really wonderful outlet, and painting something with bright colors can help you create something really joyful. It’s not about the execution or the finished product, but rather about being present with the brush, paint, and paper. How does it feel to move the color around on the page?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed…
If I’m feeling overwhelmed, cooking (or even just reading through cookbooks) makes me feel better. This prompt may not work for everyone, but I find it really relaxing.
It could be as simple as topping an open-faced sandwich with a scattering of fresh herbs and olive oil, then placing it on a pretty plate. Or, you could crack open a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and spend the afternoon cooking up a feast. Listen to which approach would feel most soothing to you.
If you’re experiencing low self-esteem…
…try getting creative with your wardrobe.
When I’m feeling this way, I’ll sometimes go through my closet and intentionally remove any pieces that don’t make me feel good. From there, sometimes I find it’s enjoyable to put together a creative outfit or two that does make me feel good. Finding new ways to create outfits with items I know I feel amazing in can really improve my mood. It could be as simple as pairing your favorite dress with boots instead of flats and adding a scarf around your neck, hair, or handbag.
If you’re feeling cooped up…
…try your hand at creating a flower arrangement.
I love to go outside, cut some flowers and greenery, and arrange them on a whim. (Head to your nearest Trader Joe’s if you don’t have a backyard to pull from!) You don’t need big, beautiful blossoms to make an interesting arrangement. Touch and smell the foliage and pick whatever calls to you. Put them in a vase that makes you smile. Take your time arranging and let nature do most of the design work.
If you’re feeling stuck…
…try styling a shelf (or rearranging furniture in a room!).
I love rearranging a small corner (or big room) to renew my surroundings. Sometimes focusing your energy on a task that’s separate from what’s making you feel stuck, like arranging your books on a shelf or rearranging furniture, can help you get unstuck.
Remember: It’s not about being strict with your creative practice. It’s simply about honoring what you know you need and following through.
Happy creating, folks.