5 ways to be more creative

Melissa Cowan explores ways to get your creative mojo back. 

At 10 years old, I wrote a song called ‘Dreams’ that was destined to reach #1 on Rage. My girl band rehearsed it and we recorded it onto cassette. One day, someone played me the Gabrielle 1993 hit song of the same name, which had almost identical lyrics and melody. My dreams of becoming a pop star and hanging out with TLC were shattered and I dramatically broke up the band. That was the last song I ever wrote.

Losing that (over?) confidence in my creative abilities is something I still mourn.

Here are 5 things I’ve learned from life in general:

1. Trust the process

I tend to romanticise the creative process. In my mind, I’ll sit down at my desk, glass of red to my right and some poppies to my left. The words will pour out of me until I’ve written a tonne of pages that need zero edits. In reality, I’ll labour over a few hundred words and then edit them five times over. It’s messy and frustrating. But sometimes the things we’re most stuck on are the things we’re here to do. We’re bound up because it matters to us, and that can be a scary place to be.

2. Try new things

You don’t have to work in the arts to be creative. Anything that gets us out of our normal routine is a creative act. It could be as simple as going to a new cafe for your morning coffee or listening to some different music on your morning commute. Or maybe you want to delve a little deeper, like giving yourself a different topic to research each week.

3. Challenge your beliefs

Do you tell yourself you can’t paint/sing/write? When we think of these acts as play rather than work, we give ourselves freedom. It’s okay to do something just for the fun of it, without producing something you deem pleasing. It’s also fun to question the assumptions we make about other people and our lives. Do we really have to do that thing we’re dreading?

4. Get inspired

Read books, watch films, take a different route around the park, photograph your lover, sketch your friends. Keep an eye out for all the amazing things in life that so easily pass us by (like clouds…how freaking great are clouds!?). Choosing to see beauty in the small things helps us slow down. Also, figure out what helps you be creative. Do you work in short bursts or do you prefer a consistent approach? What kind of environment works best for you?

5. Do nothing

We live in a society that shuns the act of doing nothing. Sometimes, giving ourselves space to digest and absorb can be the most productive thing we can do. We’re not supposed to go at full throttle 24/7. Give yourself permission to take a break, soak up all your ideas and just be in the moment.