A No B.S., Organic Guide to Becoming More Creative
Using science and Eastern philosophy.
You are a miracle being.
Mathematically you are improbable yet, here you are, in your distinct body and mind expressing life. The inorganic and organic material had to be arranged in precise and specific ways for over 4 billion years giving birth to your ancestors. Your ancestors had to make countless split-second choices for generations leading to your mom and dad being born. Finally, a series of unlikely events shepherd your mom and dad to conceive you: one pack of genetic material amongst about 100 million others made it to a specific egg.
When you were born as a creative life force, you had the seeds of unprecedented potential.
You are here as a vehicle for your seeds to grow and flower.
This is rarely the message you got though.
After a blissful couple of years of not-yet-judged creativity, you started getting messages about what’s normal and good. Adults around you, although they may have had good intentions, compared you with other kids pushing to behave or perform. Then, there came public education designed to create uniform minds. You had to fit your unique mind into the shapes of courses, teacher’s directions, and parent’s expectations. This was the price to feel belonging and approval.
Then, you perpetuated single-minded thinking and acting to get jobs and be successful in the ways people expected you to. You’ve forgotten about your unique creative seeds. No wonder it feels hard to access your creativity to write something unique, devise an innovative solution, or make authentic art.
Unfortunately, you have been trained to ditch your creativity.
The good news is that the seeds of your unique potential never leave you. The moment you recognize the conditioning that blocked your creativity, you are free to retrain yourself to unleash the dormant expression within you.
As a new writer, undoing the conditioning that limits my creativity is a major practice for me. I have been riding the highs and lows of creation. Recently, I started examining my mind as well as what I have heard from my clients on their obstacles to create. Then, I turned to neuroscience and eastern philosophy for answers. I’ve found a few game-changing tools:
Focus on the unfolding instead of the end goal
It is great to have a clear goal in mind to focus your effort. However, rushing to the result without enjoying the process is pointless. A lot of people focus fiercely to get to their success destination without appreciating the journey, only to find emptiness at the end.
The main reason you create anything is the delight of discovery and the experience of becoming. Enjoying “the unfolding” is not only the most logical thing to do but also it is the requirement to unleash your creativity.
Constantly comparing yourself with others or your desired future self creates anxiety and feelings of inadequacy. In her book Fire up Your Writing Brain, Susan Reynold explains how anxiety triggers your limbic system causing stress hormones to kick in. Stress hinders your cerebral brain where creative thinking takes place. Your body starts to associate writing/creating something new with danger.
On the contrary, when you focus on appreciation, your body relaxes activating the parasympathetic system. Your brain feels safe to focus the energy into thinking and making new neural connections. Ta daaa! You enter the creative brain.
To practice this, tell yourself that seeds turning into flowers takes time. During this process every stage is necessary and beautiful. Remember you are here to become, not emerge as a “finished product”. Also, don’t forget to celebrate the small achievements and progress by reflecting on the day before.
Envision yourself as the person you want to become, every day!
One of my favorite spiritual teachers, Ram Dass talks about how desire creates reality in Be Here Now. I heard this statement in different ways from various spiritual teachers, but not until recently did it click for me.
I started seeing clearly how I create my life from my identity. If I believed that I was a lousy writer, I woke up and felt zero motivation to write. I delayed writing, busied myself with distractions, and ended up feeling unaccomplished by the end of the day- which further reinforced the belief that I am a lousy writer.
“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become”- James Clear
In contrast, when I focus my thoughts on my positive traits like “I am a well-read person who’s in the process of becoming a good writer”, I feel motivated to write. The truth is I am neither of these statements, but I am what I say to be.
So, the only way you will become what you desire is to keep focusing on that and give zero attention to what you want to eliminate.
At first, it may feel fake or unrealistic to see yourself as a person that you’re not yet. But, as you repeat this vigilantly, you will build a new identity. You will rewire your brain to generate new behaviors that are in line with your new identity.
To practice this, visualize the person who you want to become in detail every day, preferably when you wake up. For example; a writer who writes interesting science fiction stories every day and makes 6 figures from writing. When your old beliefs and limitations come up, just let them be. You don’t have to change those beliefs — as they will disappear naturally in the absence of attention.
Condition your brain on how and why you write
Visualization of the outcome and the qualities of execution is a well-known technique in sport psychology. Dr. Michael Gervais, who works with NFL stars says visualizing specific outcomes trains your brain and body to create the actual experience. He helps athletes engage their 5 senses in their imagery so that they somatically and mentally know what to do when the real experience happens.
Visualization can be applied to anything. Suppose you committed to writing every day. When you sit down to write it feels like grinding. The creativity is just not flowing through you. If this is the case, you will probably start associating writing with difficulty or worse, disappointment.
Instead, just like forming a new identity, start telling your brain the process of writing is becoming easy and fun as you do it more and more.
See in your mind’s eye the place you sit to write and your fingers on the keyboard, flowing easily.
Pay attention to how it feels in your body to be in the flow. Feel the joy of creation and completion.
Feel the connection with your audience.
Most importantly, focus on the contribution you’re making. Dedicating our efforts to something more than ourselves makes it more meaningful and compelling.
In summary, to free your creative juice, first remember that you are born with the seeds of creativity. There is no such thing as “you either are creative or not”. But, there is such a thing as uncovering your creativity by letting go of the societal b.s. that got in your head. Second, accept that uncovering creativity is a process that you can enjoy — in fact, enjoying is the point of creation and it will accelerate the process. Lastly, visualize who you want to become and how you want to feel as you create. Repeat these steps until your identity shifts and you start savoring the unique gift that only humans are given in this world; the act of creation.