‘Creativity is not just something we do. It is a natural part of who we are’ says Julia McCutchen, author of Psychologies’ first step to creative bliss: Cultivate a Creative Mindset. This is clearly someone who values the creative process. She believes that in order to be creative, we need to cultivate the right internal and external circumstances. The greatest commodities that aid this, she states, are time and our environment.
I put her advice to the test, and set aside a healthy chunk of time in which I could allow my creative juices to flow. I also created the perfect environment; incense burning, tidy space, paints at the ready, soft music playing in the background….I have decided that creative endeavour number one is to paint a tree (yes, that’s right, a tree). And so I begin.
I have to admit that initially I feel a bit stupid. I mean why on earth have I chosen to paint a tree?! That doesn’t seem very creative. Well, even Picasso had to start somewhere and so placing my preconceptions of what creativity is to one side, I start applying paint to paper. The soothing environment definitely seems to be helping and quite quickly I relax into it. Although I have some sort of idea of how I want my tree to look, I go with the flow, mixing colours and adding paint here and there. There seems to be a flow of energy coming from some deeper place within me that’s making me move the paintbrush. I am barely conscious of it. All I know is that I’m having fun. It’s cathartic. My mind wanders and I begin thinking of things related to the rest of my week. Then suddenly it’s back on the painting and I am mindfully creating brush strokes on the once blank canvas.
Half an hour later I am done. Creative effort number one is complete. Ok, so it’s not exactly a work of art. Actually it’s more reminiscent of a pattern on a bedspread I once owned. Einstein did say the secret to creativity is to hide your sources, but I guess I just disclosed mine, so never mind. As a novice ruminating on her own creativity, a few thoughts and feelings come to surface. First, being in that creative zone feels good, but perhaps that is because there was no real pressure on me to perform. Second, I was less worried about the finished article and more focussed on the creative process. And third, setting aside time and being in the right environment does seem to help in some way to allow for creativity to flow.