By Rebecca Sohn – Second City Works Facilitator
Being bored is my least favorite state of mind. I don’t like feeling like I’m the living embodiment of a cobweb. I don’t like to feel un-alive. I need creativity. I’m an improviser. Creativity is life and life is creativity. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It requires effort. It requires energy. It requires that I step out of the routine of my comfort zone. It’s scary. It requires bravery on a heroic level. That’s right, I just called myself a hero.
“Hay-elp! Hay-elp! How can I be more creative?!”
Fear not, damsel or dude-sel in distress, I am here to save you from feeling bored and blocked!
Here are Four Simple Steps to Being Creative.
Creativity is life and life is creativity. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It requires effort. It requires energy.
- Step One: Engage (and also Disengage… from your phone)
It’s really just a decision. You just decide to be more present in the moment and aware. I know, I know, easier said than done.
Look around you. What do you see? The gray wall of a cubicle? A window? A 16th Century example of Gothic Architecture? A human person? Get up. I mean it, stand up. Walk over to something and touch it. Please don’t choose the human. Do not touch the human.
Part of feeling stuck is literally lack of movement. I move. I get up and walk. I walk alone, I don’t carry anything I don’t need to carry and I don’t wear earbuds. I want to be present and listen to the world. Or I choose a simple, routine task like doing the dishes or cleaning something. That allows my thoughts to flow freely. When I’m being creative my house gets very clean – heroically clean.
The point is to move your body and engage. Be present in the moment. That’s a Zen practice and an Improv skill. And it’s the first step toward being more creative.
Did you have a judgement about some (or all) of what you just read? Seems pretty obvious, right? Sophomoric even? Good for you for being honest! It’s hard to get out of judgement-land. You are not unique in this. Which leads me to…
- Step Two: Do Something Creative
“Well, duh. If I wasn’t stuck I would already be doing something creative. Thanks, ‘Hero’”.
Okay fair enough. That is the end goal, but first you must make your own heroic effort to get through the Giant Stormy Sea of Judgement and Fear. So…
- Step Two Redo: Slay Judgement
“Way to carry out a metaphor, but is it that big a deal?”
Yeah, this is the biggie. Judgement is most people’s fire-breathing dragon. We’re all creative, it’s the nature of being a human. But we allow judgement to stop us. Self-judgment mostly but also other people’s potential judgement and even judgement of the methods we use. All of this is fear-based in some way. Maybe not Being-Chased-By-Walking-Dead kind of fear, but fear nonetheless. So here’s the thing…
Creativity is a Scared Bunny. It’s fragile. It’s soft and furry. Okay not furry, but it does need patience, support, time and quiet to come out of its safe hiding place. That can look different for every individual. Maybe you require a lot of loud music to set your creativity free. Whatever it takes for you to create a space of non-judgement is the only way you will truly set your creativity free.
- Step Three: Uncouple Creativity from Commerce
“Whoa whoa whoa, this is about bringing more creativity to work!”
I know. I know. We’ll get to that. Commerce needs creativity, but creativity requires freedom from the judgement that’s implicit in commerce for a period of time. What you choose to do with your creativity afterward is your business, in both senses of the word.
An enormous part of the judgement equation is that we are trying to be creative at work when we haven’t first figured out how to be creative on our own. That’s a lot of pressure. We can benefit our work creativity if we can figure out what our individual creativity requires.
We are trying to be creative at work when we haven’t first figured out how to be creative on our own.
I’m a performer. I have been creating and performing professionally since I was a child. Since I was 5 years old, everybody gets to judge what I do to my face and that’s okay with me. That’s part of the fun, mostly. But in order to fully feed that, I need my own judgement-free outlet. My creativity is nobody else’s business, in both senses of the word.
Among many other things, I paint and write poetry, neither of which I share with the public. It’s not for the public, it’s for me. It doesn’t matter if somebody thinks it’s good or bad, because that’s not the point. The point is to create for the sake of creation. When we separate creativity from commerce and judgement we discover freedom. The more freely I create for myself, the more easily I’m able to create with and for others, for commerce, when I choose.
Being creative in your own way, on your own time, by yourself and for yourself will have an enormous impact on your public creativity. So often when we’re creating in a group, the fear of judgement rears its needy head and blocks us. We grow stronger when we make a practice of being creative on our own.
- Step Two Step Four: Do Something Creative
Bring it to work. Create a space of non-judgement. Creativity is a scared bunny. Not just yours, but everyone’s. All it takes is one person not participating for another person to feel judged. Every time we throw an idea out into the world we run the risk of rejection and that scared bunny runs back to its safe home. Every single person engaged in the creative process must actively participate in creating an environment that supports risk. Every person in the room must take part in this process or go inhabit a different room. It takes the edge off the risk and allows people to make bolder and bolder choices. Being creative requires bravery because being creative is scary. There can be no bravery without fear.
Be brave. Create something. Anything. You can judge it later. That’s called “Editing.” For now, just be a hero.