Time to get a little nerdy:
I love science and the idea that the universe has a balanced system. When it comes to the conservation and creation of energy in general, the theory is pretty elegant:
“The law of conservation of energy states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed – only converted from one form of energy to another. This means that a system always has the same amount of energy, unless it’s added from the outside.” Source: University of Calgary Energy Education
What if we look at creative energy the same way? What if we see our minds as a closed system and our creative energy is finite unless energy is taken or added by the system outside of us?
Why do you want more creative energy?
Personally, I have this almost dysfunctional need to create things. I feel restless when I’m not being productive. When I bring something to life, I achieve an temporary sense of calm, but that calm doesn’t last long before I need to start the cycle all over again.
But, there’s only so much creative energy I have to give, and I am constantly looking for ways to increase my output. The points below are my tried and true questions to figure out how I can be more creative.
First, where is your creative energy going?
When I’ve run out of steam, I have to reason with myself and realistically look at where all of my energy has gone to either a) conserve it for projects that matter to me of b) figure out if I need an outside boost. I know my creative energy is finite. I will run out and I will need to recharge at some point. Knowing this, I try to be intentional about where I use it.
Creativity isn’t reserved for art. It flows into all that we do. Cooking, decorating, personal style, social interactions, education, work projects, and more. If you feel you don’t have enough creative energy, where can you conserve it?
It’s a very simple example, but lets look at clothes. I wear the same mostly black clothes over and over. Styling myself take too much energy so I go with the bare minimum. I also cook the same meals through the week. Simple choices help me conserve this energy for what I truly want to use it on.
Maybe you actually have more creative energy than you think and you’re squandering it on things you’re not passionate about.
What saps you energy in general? Not just creative energy.
Sometimes we have to convert our creative energy into other non-creative forms. I know I am not the only one who worked a full time job and woke up with the energy to create and then when I got home, despite having done menial tasks all day that involved no creativity, I was too tired to make art. There are only so many hours in the day. We can’t get away from all the things that sap our creativity, but knowing what is taking our energy and cutting some of those things out can help.
Does hanging out with a certain friend take all the pep out of your step? Are you part of any groups that you feel an obligation to be part of, but they don’t fulfill you at all? Do you keep killing plants but think you need to jump on the new plant loving trend so you spend hours researching what will keep a succulent happy? Do you mindlessly watch TV or scroll through social media, wasting what little brain power you have left on staying awake too late?
Be mindful of what takes from you. When we’ve run out of the energy we need to just live daily life, of course it’s going to pull from our creative energy.
Side note: Emotions fuel creative energy, but what asks us to react, takes energy from us.
I’m an empath and am acutely aware of how I am drained in negative situations. And I’m not just talking about negative things in my own environment. I’m talking about media, movies, books, TV and more.
For example, I started watching Euphoria and though it is objectively a well made show, I can’t continue watching it. Or at least, I can’t binge it. Dark content asks me to feel dark things and those feelings take too much energy from me and leaves less for my creativity. But that might just be me. What takes energy from me might fuel you. The key is to be mindful of how something makes you feel. If it takes from you, cut it out. If it gives, then seek more. People, emotions, places, things, hobbies, habits. We are in the age of cutting out what doesn’t matter. Start snipping.
Lastly, what feeds your creative energy?
If we are a closed system and we cannot create more energy, then we need it from the outside. Just as dark content takes from me, light and positive content gives me something I didn’t have before: Inspiration. (For some people dark things might be inspiring and happy things draining. It’s not universal!)
So, when do you feel most inspired? What are you doing when you get those bursts of energy and an ‘ah ha’ moment for a new project? This is going to be different for everyone, but for me it’s a pretty simple list and nature is at the tippy top with exercise. When I move my body out in nature, it’s like my creativity snorted lime zest. Like now, I just got back from a long walk with my new puppy and was like ooo, blog post!
It works for me, but what works for you? I know it sounds simple, but whatever makes you feel inspired, do more of that. Whatever makes you feel like garbage, do less of that.
And ultimately, remember to be realistic with your goals.
I have been butting up against the reality that I have limitations with my creativity. My goal is to be endlessly creative and productive, but for almost a month I struggled with migraines. I had all these things I wanted to do, but physically could not. At other times, I’m struggling with my depression or anxiety or am preoccupied with life in general.
Cut yourself some slack. If you are not able to be as creative as you’d like, don’t punish yourself. It is a balance of energy. It is a system that needs order, but is susceptible to the chaos of life. Go with the flow and control what you can, but don’t punish yourself if you can’t create for weeks, months, or years at a time.
Take care of you. Ideas that beg for life will be waiting when you have the time and energy to devote to them.
This pep talk has been brought to you by my recent accomplishment of finishing the fourth draft of my novel. This book is demanding more creative energy than I have ever given to one thing in my entire life and it challenged my sanity. It’s also the reason why I haven’t been creating as much art, posting on social media, or writing blog posts. Creative energy can not be created nor destroyed and I had poured 95% of my reserves into my words. But, I think it’s fair to say that my capacity for creative work has grown over the years–I should write about that. There might be a part two to this. Creative Capacity.
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