My Six Favourite Tips for Sensitive People to Nurture Our Creative Projects
Spring is coming. I feel it in my core, even if the sky is grey and a cold wind encourages me to hide under layers and stay home. Days are longer, trees are flowering, the sun quickly warms everything up when it peeks behind the clouds. My body is emerging from its slumber now that all the winter darkness is gone. And along with the darkness, my need to retreat, to slow down and isolate is quickly vanishing.
What's replacing it is a sense of excitement. Spring makes me feel alive, rejuvenated after the slowness of winter. Suddenly, I find myself listening to music more and each chord makes my body vibrate. Nature feels more vibrant than ever. I find inspiration all around me. I want to read all the books, connect with people, do more, be more, give more. If spring was a life stage, it would be a child. It's a symbol of rebirth after all.
I have a big vision for this spring. I have projects that want to see the light, dreams that want to come true. There's a voice in my head telling me this time I'm not going to procrastinate on them and I intend to listen to it. It's so easy to fall prey to fear and doubt. It's so human to be overwhelmed and get lost in the process. How many of us start things with the best intentions and give up halfway through? I've talked before about what's needed to form new habits, how to find the spark that pushes us to stick with them. But besides working on our mindset, we also need to put strategies in place.
When it comes to my creative projects, that's where I tend to fall short. That's where I've failed countless times. I know I'm not the only one. There are hundreds of books out there teaching us how to implement this or that strategy to effect change. Some will work for a certain kind of people, others will work for others. I guess it's a matter of trying things to figure out what works for you. But I have seen a pattern in the advice given to creative, sensitive people. So if you belong to that category, you might find this helpful. (Also, come and say hi? We have much in common, my friend).
My six favourite tips to nurture our creative projects:
Use music to find inspiration.
It was Lauren Sapala who reminded me how powerful this technique is. I've created some of my best work after putting on headphones and choosing the right music. We are sensitive. We react strongly to stimulation and that includes music that reaches the deepest corners of our soul. Swim in the notes. Breathe in the melodies. Let the music fill you up and unleash your creativity.
Avoid overwhelm by being selective.
If, like me, you have too many ideas, be selective. I've seen this advice repeatedly. Lauren suggests that you find the sweet spot between too few projects that will make you get bored and too many projects that will threaten your sanity. I know I can't have just one because I end up hating it, but I can't have five because I end up not doing anything. Ritu Kaushal also advises narrowing your focus and Leigh Shulman recommends choosing only three. They all address writers specifically but this can be applied to any type of project.
Celebrate small victories.
I remember when I was coming out of my longest depression and my therapist recommended I write down three things I achieved every day, no matter how small they seemed. This was so effective I soon started to regain my power. I've seen the same advice applied to anything we want to build. For me, it was enough to jot them down on my calendar so I could empower myself by reading them anytime I needed to but perhaps you'd like to celebrate bigger! The sky's the limit. Or not.
Whether it's a friend, a group of people, an app... Just get accountability. Knowing you have to show up and do the work because other people will be there too is the kind of pressure that can get you to stop procrastinating. I used to be a lone writer, but what happens when I write on my own is that I only do it sometimes when inspiration strikes and the planets align and I feel like it. I haven't found a way to be consistent on my own, so now I join an online writing group and we work in silence. I feel an enormous sense of accomplishment afterwards and I often end up working for longer after the sessions. Give it a try!
Move your body.
Apparently, studies have been done about this. Movement affects the chemistry and physiology of the brain, increasing its plasticity. Perhaps that's the reason why so many writers love walking (or running, like Murakami). I know I often feel a spark of creativity when I'm walking outdoors but sometimes all I need to do is walk around the apartment and the insight that was escaping me comes to me like thunder. Some people say they get their best ideas in the shower. Maybe all it takes is moving your arms!
Go on artist dates.
I've written about these before. Julia Cameron invented this term for little "expeditions" we can do on our own to explore something that sparks our interest or seems like fun. Personally, my options are more limited than when I lived in a big city but there is always something we can do to nourish our creativity. My artist dates now consist of walks in nature, reading interesting articles, colouring, watching films and documentaries, reading books, listening to music, collecting stones and other natural elements... When I engage in these practices, I can actually feel how my brain gets activated differently and ideas flow to me. Honestly, just spending time away from our phones does wonders.
I hope these tips will help you move forward in your creative life like they are helping me. It's much easier to reach a destination when we're enjoying the process! So enjoy the process... and remember:
The world needs your gifts
as much as it needs
the bird, the flower, the bee
as much as it needs
the bird, the flower, the bee
to bring forward
their own gifts.
All it takes is
trust, patience, courage
and unwavering faith in yourself.