Today we're talking about living more creatively in midlife. You may think you're not creative, but I'm here to tell you everyone has at least one creative bone in their bodies including you, my friend.
So today I'm going to give you four steps to the creative process that will start making it a natural part of your life. And isn't that what we all want? To live more creatively, to engage in creative living on a regular basis as we go through this thing called midlife?
Before I dive in, I want to tell you that one of the most important tools in your midlife creativity toolkit is your calendar. If you’re serious about enjoying midlife creativity regularly, you're going to have to set aside some time to do it. Being creative doesn't magically happen.
It takes intention to get in your creative time.Think about when you can work in a few minutes a day. And if you want a couple of quick hints about where you can find the time to get into creative flow on a regular basis, here are two of them:
There you have it. You have just found a few minutes to work on creative living. Because we're Easy Agers, we're going to only start with two little minutes and then we're going to work our way up.
Once you start your creative practice and discover the energy and refreshment it gives you, it's going to be pretty easy to extend the time you're doing it. Then, you're going to start noticing some changes in yourself.
Maybe you change the way you dress. Maybe you're a hat person, and you didn't even know it. Maybe you discover you like fresh flowers in the kitchen instead of the dining room, or you want to update the curtains in your bedroom for no particular reason. Who knows?
Being consistent is the secret to creative living. Here are four steps to help you incorporate creative living into your life on a daily basis:
For me, this part is the most fun. You get to let loose, and step into possibility. You follow your train of thought from one idea to the next and the next. No boundaries, no rules. It's just you and your thoughts, and any idea that pops up. It’s so much fun!
When you're brainstorming, I do suggest you use a mind map to prime your brain. In How A Midlife Mind Map Can Help You With Your Decision Making And Problem Solving, I gave you the basics of mind maps and why they work.
The reason mind maps work so well is because they're based on association, and that's how our brains work. We associate one thing with the next, and that's what brainstorming is. It's simply throwing out one idea after another, and they're all related in some way.
Grab your favorite beverage, sit down and just start doing an old-fashioned mind map on paper with your favorite pen. Google "mind maps > images" to see how they're done.
Our brains always want to have an order to things so you may do this naturally as you're creating your mind map. This is an optional step in case you didn't do it when brainstorming. The more often you do this, the more easily the brainstorming and the organization parts are going to start blending together.
You may wonder why it's important for you to put things in order if you're being creative. I think we've been fooled into thinking that the artist just steps to the easel, puts brush to canvas and creates a masterpiece in one sitting. We see this in the movies and on television all the time. But what we don't see is the thought that went into the piece before the artist ever got near the canvas.
The painter, the writer, the performer — all of these creatives went through their own process and, more than likely, they didn't even write it down. They did it in their heads. They percolated on it. They put some structure and some order around it. Then they mixed the paints or sat at the computer or went to the rehearsal space.
That's what I do when I'm preparing my podcast. First, I decide to do an episode on creativity. I ask questions like “What do I want to leave them with? A creative exercise? A creative process? Encouragement to establish their own creative practice? What is it? Ah, okay, I'll leave them with a process. What are the steps in the process? What order do they go in?”
All of this is happening in my head before I ever open my laptop. I'm thinking and percolating on it just like the artist was percolating on the piece before he or she ever stepped up to the easel.
That said, I still do mind mapping; I just don't do it for podcast episodes anymore. When you do something regularly, it becomes much easier to do it in your head and get it organized before you start creating.
And as you're doing the mind map, you're more than likely going to start putting together the steps or the organization of your creative process in step one so you may not even need step two.
Let go and have some fun. All you have to do here is set aside some time and get moving on your project. The key thing is: don't set your expectations too specifically. Just play with it. See where you go and don't put too much pressure on yourself.
This is one of the most overlooked parts of the creative process.
Do you know why it's recommended that you let meat rest when you take it out of the oven? When you allow the meat to rest, you're giving it the space it needs to relax and redistribute the juices. This keeps the meat moist and improves the texture and tenderness so you have an extraordinary dining experience.
Just like you rest the meat before you eat it, you need to rest your brain before you review your work. In my opinion, this is the most important thing to do after any creative activity. Stepping away after so much brain work is a smart thing to do.
It helps your brain redistribute all those creative juices you've been using. When you let your brain relax, you get new perspective and you can look at the project with a more objective eye.
Looking at your creative pursuits more objectively lets you see what's working and what's not. After creating some space and letting it rest a bit, you can come back and say, "I did this part well. But I see this other part needs to be tweaked."
When a novelist finishes a book, he or she can put it away for a couple of weeks up to a few months. Novelists know they need some space away from that work so they can acquire a more objective eye on it. Then they can go back and be more effective when they make their edits.
As a writer, I'll attest to this because I know that you never, ever write and edit anything in the same sitting. You step away, even if it's just for 24 to 48 hours. You rest for a bit, then come back to it when you're fresh.
Now, block some time on your calendar so you can start incorporating creative living into midlife. Soon, you’ll be creating like a champ!