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We are all creatives. To say you are not creative is to say you are not alive. Being a creative doesn’t mean you spend hours writing or sketching or designing. Sure, it can be all those things, but at its core being a creative simply means that you are in a state of creation and creation is our natural state. When we are not creating we are surviving. I’ve been there — so worried about the day or what tomorrow will bring that you can barely eat or sleep from the stress.
In my early thirties I learned the magic of what it means to be a creative. The magic lies in pulling all of your attention away from reacting to everything going in your life. The magic lies in transforming survival mode into creative mode which means having the courage and fortitude to believe in the unseen. This is where creation comes from — the unseen. Creation comes from your essence, the fabric of your soul. You have to get quiet and still enough to allow it to come forth and grace you with its power.
Whether you want to write, draw, create music, design clothes, curate a garden, develop culinary skills, or simply get better at a craft or a game. Here are seven secrets that will open the door to welcoming the creative source:
#1 Make Time
There are as many hours in a day as you put into them. If you allow the hours to pass, they will. If you design the hours — instead of checking your phone, or watching television, talking on the phone, or sleeping in — you will find the time. Hobbies pass the time. Creative activities stop time. All you need is one hour spent in creative mode. One hour spent focused on something that makes your heart dance and you will soon discover that time bends and you have more hours in a day than you realize. Hours spent creating are the richest, most luxurious, and soul nourishing hours and they will have a transformative effect on you.
#2 Create the Conditions
In my late twenties, when I first starting taking my writing seriously, I would be haunted by a feeling of not knowing what to write. If only I had the idea, I would say to myself then I would sit and write. At the time I was working long hours as a TV reporter in Manhattan, going out to dinners and clubs at night, and in an on again, off again relationship. However it wasn’t until I made huge changes in my life that the writing began to flow. That is not to say you have to quit your job, end your relationship, or stop having a social life to become a creator. But if I learned one grand lesson in becoming a master creator it is this — creation does not happen without destruction. You must be willing to let go of that which weighs you down, your addictions, your habits, your patterns and unhealthy desires in order to make space for your inner world to reveal itself to you. Embracing the conditions to create starts with silence. It begins with the space in between the hectic life and the artist’s way. It starts in a quiet, solitary, delicate place called the desert.
#3 Curate a Soundtrack
Whenever I carve out creative time it is inevitable that it sits in between cleaning, or paying bills, or running errands, or for the past three years intense hours of studying the law. This is life. I don’t just sit in my office and waive a magic wand and suddenly the words start to flow. Well actually — I do have a magic wand and it is called music. I have particular music that I ONLY listen to when I sit to create. Whether I am generating business ideas, working on a book, or planning a workshop. When I sit to create I have a soundtrack that lulls me into a trance. Whenever I hear John Williams or the composer Daniel Hope it’s as if the muses are invoked and they come and dance with me.
#4 Find a Signature Scent
Just like music, fragrances have the power to transport us. For me it’s always a Diptyque candle. I know when I light the flame that it’s creative time and every time I smell the sweet scent of jasmine, tubéreuse or blackcurrant berries it’s as if the cells in my body light up and stand at the ready to play in the magic.
#5 Surround Yourself with Totems
In my creative studio I have a number of totems that represent my creative life — my letter holder, my French matches, crystals, my favorite broken-in books, my piles of notes. All these items evoke the essence of who I am when I create. I am a keeper of the word, a messenger, a spark, a grounded vibration, a storyteller with an old soul. Choose totems that remind you of the person you want to evolve into and keep them close during creative time.
#6 Designate a Sacred Object
When I was working on my second novel I bought a Strathmore sketchbook in an art supply store in Soho. I don’t sketch. I was in the store seeking out a favorite pen and the next thing I knew I was picking out the sketchbook. Ever since, I’ve gone through hundred sheet sketchbooks at least every eight months. These sketchbooks are my sacred object. I use them for ideas, notes, inspiration, thoughts — anything and everything to do with whatever it is I am creating. Sometimes I don’t even know what the idea is for and then I’ll look back and realize it fits into something I am working on months or even years later. In fact the idea for my website and this blog came from notes I wrote in a sketchbook two years ago about wanting to create something that would inspire people to give their life a more meaningful hue.
#7 Stop while your ahead
When the writing is going really good and I feel like I could go on for hours or days even without food or sleep — just on the edge of that twelve hour day is when I stop. I stop and I make myself go to bed or go for a walk with Pat or clean or do something else. It sounds counterintuitive. Why on earth would you STOP when the creative juices are flowing? Because, as Papa Hemingway used to say, you know what happens next — you already have the idea, the thought, the dialogue, the scene. If you stop while you’re ahead you’ll never get stuck. The next time you sit to create you’ll know where to start. 🤍