As previously seen on Wit & Delight
Editor’s Note: As we head into another spring weekend, we’re sharing this post contributor Jill Elliott penned two years ago. In it, she shares some of the (many) benefits of developing a creative practice and how to start your own. Grab a paintbrush and canvas (or your preferred medium of choice) and explore your own creative depths…you may be surprised by what you find.
Creativity is good for the soul. The brain. The body. For happiness, joy, and connection. It’s a pretty good salve for a lot of what ails us in this hyperconnected, yet disconnected existence.
Yea, yea, yea, you say. But I’m not a creative.
Well, today I’m here to call your bulls*it.
Creativity is not magic. It is not mythical. It is not some special woo-woo DNA that is either in you or not. That’s the good news.
Creativity is a habit. A practice. A journey. One made of invitation, curiosity, drive, and passion. Each of us was born creative—just notice the way a child gets lost in imagination and play. With a little desire and determination, you can recapture some of the beauty of creativity as an adult.
Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.
E. E. Cummings
As a lifelong creative, I know firsthand the benefits a creative life can bring. But, lately, science and research are backing me up with findings on creativity like:
- Increased happiness.Your brain is flooded with dopamine during the creative process as you find your flow. Pretty cool, right?
- Improved mental health. Studies have found similarities between the benefits of meditation and creativity, helping you to find your center and reducing anxiety, depression, and stress.
- Increased cognitive function. Learning new skills creates new neural pathways in your brain, literally rewiring your brain to make you more innovative in other areas of life.
- Boosted immune system and improved pain management. A drug-free way to help reduce pain and boost immunity? Sign me up.
So, what are you waiting for? Pick up a pen, a guitar, a paintbrush and get going. My five best tips for starting a new creative habit are as follows:
1. Just START. Today.
Pick something you want to practice and get going. Painting, writing, cooking, dancing—the medium just needs to be something you enjoy long enough to learn.
2. Be consistent.
Decide to commit to 5 – 10 minutes a day, or to write three pages, or to cook one meal a week. Consistency breeds consistency and gives you time to hone your skill. Even these few minutes a day will start to build flow, joy, and purpose and will help create new muscle memory.
3. Seek out fellow creatives in teachers, friends, and communities.
In the age of accessibility, inspiration and information are everywhere you turn. Find other creatives you admire and follow on social media, read their books, learn from their journeys.
4. Give yourself permission.
To try. To fail. To be bad. To have fun. To enjoy the process and the emotion that comes from being a student. Allow yourself to be a beginner, to relish in the unknown, to make bad art, write terrible stories, throw out everything you cook. Eventually, with enough time and practice, you’ll learn. You’ll improve. You’ll grow. And really, isn’t that the point?
Give yourself permission to try. To fail. To be bad. To have fun. To enjoy the process and the emotion that comes from being a student.
5. Share your work.
I know, I know. The dreaded share. But forcing yourself to share is key to accountability. Text a poem to your mom, send a painting to your bestie. Find someone to encourage your work and send it their way.
And that my friends, is it. Starting from wherever you’re at, practicing consistency, finding inspiration in your community, allowing yourself to fail, sharing what you’ve created—this is how you build a creative habit. For life. It’s not always easy, but it’s SO worth it.
Jill Elliott is a creative consultant, strategist, and thinker constantly seeking inspiration and balance. As a writer, artist, and founder of The Color Kind she seeks to inspire others to live creatively every day. She can often be found making art and messes alongside her 8-year-old daughter and Goldendoodle puppy.