Inspiring a Creative Mindset

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that they are not creative, I would have a pretty nice chunk of money. What most people are saying when they say they are not creative is that they are not artistic. EVERYONE is creative. Creative people are problem solvers. They are empathetic. They are sales people, managers, parents, teachers, coaches, janitors, bartenders and everything in between. They are everyday people trying to figure out how to navigate their way through the world. Creativity is a mindset. Whether you want to be more artistic or less stressed out when you have a problem you are trying to solve, these methods will help to inspire a creative mindset. These 10 pillars will be the foundation for our creative journey together. 

  • Listen to music. In a world of Spotify and playlists, music is the easiest way to get your creative mojo flowing. I am a fan of “louder is better.” Anything that makes you tap your foot or get your boogie on will help to shake the cobwebs out of your brain. When we built out the Oodlearium, we repurposed a shelf stereo from the basement that music could always be available.
    • My favorite Pandora stations
      • Imagine Dragons Radio
      • 80s Pop Hits
      • Arctic Monkeys Radio
      • Bruno Mars Radio
    • I am late to join the Spotify train. The cool thing about Spotify is that people can share their playlists. I found a few to try out with a quick Google search. Try one of these or develop some of your own. Or go old school and put a creativity mix-tape together.
  • Keep an idea journal. I am a bit obsessed with lists. When I discovered the Google Keep app my life changed forever! I can keep color-coded lists, pin more important lists to the top of my lists, insert pictures, videos, links and even drawings. I have lists of things I want to learn, books I want to read, places I want to visit, and of course multiple grocery lists! Because I  always have a device with me, I can add to it at any time. In addition to my Google Keep lists, I have an actual Idea Journal that is a paper journal that I keep in the Oodlearium. I use that journal to sketch out bigger ideas. And of course, I have copious Pinterest boards (crafty, journaling, crochet, and countless more!) 
  • Talk to other creatives.  Find people who fill you with creative energy— who inspire you to make/solve problems (whatever that means for you). I have a list of people both near and far. Spending even just a few minutes on the phone with them helps me to ignite creative sparks. If you don’t feel like you have those people in your life, I recommend checking out this article about  creating a creativity & camaraderie club. I hope The Oodlearium will allow people to develop these kinds of relationships as well. 
  • Embrace failure. My grandma taught me to crochet when I was little. One day my mom told me that my sisters and I were going to spend a long weekend with my Grandma’s sister. Aunt Grace said that we could work on a crochet project together. I bought some beautiful green yarn to make a scarf. I was twenty or so rows into my project when Aunt Grace pointed out that my rows were decreasing in size. She encouraged me to pull out the rows and redo them. I gave her an incredulous glance and kept going. By the end of the weekend, I had finished my scarf. It looked like a drunken sailor had made it, but I was done. If I had realized then that it was ok to make mistakes and that the first draft was seldom the final draft, I would probably still have a lovely green scarf. 
  • Show persistence/grit. Much like when I started running, creativity DOES take work. When my husband and I were first dating, I was in awe of his ability to complete major projects seemingly with one “attempt.” What I didn’t realize was that he was not melting down every time something went wrong like I would. After twenty years together I have seen him work through problems that demonstrate his incredible creativity. If he did not possess that grit, he would have quit on The Oodlearium shelves when he learned how shamefully uneven our ceiling was. 
  • Be a lifelong learner. Soap making. Alcohol inking. Beer brewing. Doodling. Digital doodle coloring. Card making. Crocheting baby blankets. Crocheting hats. Candle making. Pinecone art. Wine bottle art. Cork art. Button art. Quilling. Origami. Sewing. Gardening. Shading markers. Paper making. Book folding. Book binding. Watercoloring. Graphic design. Wood burning. This is just a short list of the different paths my creative journey has taken me on. Some have come and gone. Others are lifelong staples. Some are seedlings in my idea journal waiting for the time when I can further pursue them. The point is that I am always exploring new ideas and trying to learn something new. While the items I listed are artistic pursuits, I am also learning Spanish and how to become a minimalist. 
  • Expose yourself to new environments. As much as I would love to have unlimited funds to explore the far reaches of our planet, this is just not most people’s reality (nor mine!). However, exploring your world to whatever extent you can is a great way to get your creative juices flowing. Here are some ideas:
    • Visit local museums (check to see when they have admission free days for residents)
    • Visit a new cafe or bookshop
    • Drive a different route to work
    • Take public transportation to work if possible
    • Buy a public transit ticket and hop on and get off somewhere randomly 
    • Check out the parks and forest preserves in your area
    • Visit a community garden in your town
    • Check out a summer farmer’s market
  • Disconnect / detox from technology. So many people are admittedly addicted to their devices that we never have an opportunity to let our minds wander. That is when your brain has the opportunity to make unique connections between different ideas. If you are constantly bombarding your mind with new inputs then you never have an opportunity to actually do something with those new ideas. If the thought of going even a few hours without your device causes you to have a panic attack, you need to do this more than ever— as soon as possible. 
  • Have new experiences. Probably close to a decade ago, I did a Project 365. The goal of the project is to take and share a photo a day for a whole year. My first picture was of an anthropomorphized smile that was really our tub drain. As the weeks and months went by the act of practicing my craft every day forced me to pay closer attention to the world around me, but it also encouraged me to have new experiences so that I would have new photographs to make and to write about. I visited places that I might not have otherwise. I visited more with friends and family and made sure to document those memories. Each time I tried something new it sparked a new idea in my mind. Ooh I went to this botanic garden, I wonder if there is another here or there. If I visited a zoo, maybe I could grab my best friend and take a road trip up to this other zoo. All those experiences were filed in my brain— for a craft, an art project, a blog post or just to share a story to show someone that I understand. 
  • Begin anywhere. This morning my husband and I sat out on our patio and talked for hours about my hopes and dreams for this blog. We talked about my anxieties and insecurities as well as the reasons why I should move forward with my ideas. The conversation ended with my husband telling me how much he admires my willingness to just dive into an idea, whereas he tends to research, plan and calculate and then recalculate every move. I have a card on my shelf behind me in The Oodlearium that says “Begin Anywhere.” Start wherever you are and if tomorrow you want to restart again, then go right ahead. Don’t wait for the perfect moment- just start! 

Creativity is a way of living life that embraces originality and makes unique connections between seemingly disparate ideas. Creativity is about living life as a journey into seeing and communicating the extraordinariness of the simplest, most every day acts. (cite)

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