Not a clickbait headline. This actually happened to me this morning. It was 10.30am which meant time for fruit for my 15 month old and me (by default).
It’s like feeding a baby oranges
I cut up bits of orange and fed it to her (when I say fed, I mean she was snatching them out of my hand, determined to eat it herself). Today, for some reason, I watched the way she ate instead of thinking about what I needed to do next.
Her eyes lit up when she saw the shiny oranges. She sucked, chewed and thoroughly enjoyed every piece of sweet, juicy orange flesh.
I tried not to wince as the juice dribbled down her arm, neck and the clean onesie I’d just put on her (when will I learn?)
She kept asking for more oranges and watched with interest as the juice ran down her arm. Three oranges later and some tasting of the tart peels, she licked the plate which was filled with leftover orange juice, smacked her lips and chuckled with delight.
Oranges made me think of work
As I watched her, a realisation struck me. When was the last time I felt that much delight and enjoyment about my writing? Or anything else really?
I used to, once upon a time, before I got tangled up in pricing rates, opt-ins, monthly income targets and worrying about what to write on my blog. Even my work-in-progress novel that gave me so much joy has become a chore since I set myself an end of November deadline to get it to the first draft.
I feel uninspired and unable to sit at my desk for long. My creative juices are running low and none of the usual methods to coax the muse out are working.
Your routine is killing your creativity
So I went looking for answers from the Internet (where else?). According to a Forbes article, our brains get less creative as we become older. We intentionally set systems and routines to help us navigate adult life successfully. While these systems help us thrive as adults, they tend to kill all creativity. So in order to be creative (either at home or in your work), you have to step out of these systems – which makes many of us feel extremely uncomfortable. Take away all routine and what remains? Unpredictability!
Unpredictability can actually be good for boosting creativity i.e. doing something that you wouldn’t usually do.
Think outside the box is a common mantra in the business world. But the office environment is not exactly set up to get people thinking outside the box! So whether you’re a freelancer or work in an office, these five tips will help you break out of your system and supercharge your creativity – making you feel alive and pumped.
I’ve shared three tips from experts and two tips are from moi.
Quiet time (expert)
If you’re a mum writer like me working to ridiculous times and deadlines, you’re pretty much inviting burnout to come and live with you. Taking short breaks worked for me in the past, but lately, they’re falling short of achieving what I need – which is regularly refuelling my creative tank so I can keep writing.
So my quiet time is sitting on my balcony (among some plants I’m trying to keep alive) and staring at the sky. No phones are allowed in this time. I just sit and let my mind rest. It empties my mind of parenting, business, home life and friend thoughts to make room for some higher quality thoughts (I hope).
Often, I end up on thought tangents which make no sense whatsoever! But I do feel refreshed after this exercise. I avoid doing anything else, which is much harder than it sounds.
Do nothing. C’mon I dare you!
Stay away from ‘productivity’ anything (mine)
Most people will jump straight on the Internet and start Googling for how to be more productive type posts.
This is a bad idea. Don’t do it!
Firstly, it’ll make you feel bad that you’re wasting time because most posts contain this tip – stay away from the web and social media.
Secondly, all these posts will make you feel even more unproductive so you’ll start panicking and then you’ll lose the day.
Instead, read a book or magazine even for half an hour and the creative cog should start moving again. Put your phone away so you don’t get distracted, this will keep adding to your brain mush.
Have a nice to-do list (expert)
Been meaning to bake muffins or make a frittata? Now’s a good time to do it.
I have a nice to-do list in my Trello and one for my home in my head (because if I write it all down I’ll just feel demotivated). Whenever I feel uninspired, I tackle one or two jobs on this list. The end result is, I feel good because that untidy drawer is tidy again. Then I feel ready to tackle work-related stuff because I’ve got that feel-good high of having achieved something.
If you’ve been meaning to try slime or kinetic sand, sit down and get stuck into it. The joy of creating something using your hands is underrated. Plus it’s soothing to sit and focus on one thing instead of having your brain whiz around in different directions, trying to do everything at once (multi-tasking is what we call it).
Treat yourself (mine)
It’s amazing how much a good coffee and an occasional slice of cake lifts my mood. Research has proven that the food you eat affects how you feel so choose wisely.
Whenever I’m in need of some inspiration, I’ll go down to my local library, then eat my favourite meal or order cake and coffee to give me an energy kick.
If food is not your thing, get a massage, go for a swim or get a pedicure. Anything that’ll make you feel ace and ready to pump out those amazing words on your keyboard or tackle the next thing on your to-do list.
Free write (Expert)
Hang on, wasn’t the point of this post to stay away from writing anything?
Yes and no.
Free writing simply means sitting down with a pen and paper (choose somewhere nice, away from your desk) and putting down any thoughts and ideas that come into your head randomly. Don’t place them in any order, just sit down and write.
This exercise does two things; it declutters your brain in a more active way and it refuels your creative tank because you’re thinking and writing. The brain connects ideas and discards others. It’s like spring cleaning for your brain.
So I’m going to try all of these this week and see if my mojo comes roaring back.
While I do this, here are some excellent articles for you to check out in your downtime: