It’s still January, right? So we can all claim we continue to work on our New Year’s resolutions. Not that I truly made any. I’m over fifty now, and that means, among other things, that I know the odds of keeping any resolutions are low.
Still, there are things I want to accomplish. Works in progress, for example, crying out to become finished books. So, I ponder making resolutions anyway.
Resolutions focus us on outcomes: number of pounds lost, skills learned, things accomplished. I wonder, though, if creative work requires something else. Inputs. Nourishment. Feeding.
How do we nurture our creativity as this year gets underway? What does your creativity need to grow and thrive in 2016?
After contemplating this for the last few weeks, I’ve come up with my resolutions for feeding my creative endeavors this year. Feel free to borrow any that you believe will work for you.
1. Every day, notice something beautiful. In my valley in the heart of Washington State, this is easy. Sunrises and sunsets paint glorious pictures in our sky. Winter snow falls gently or sparkles in the sun. Our local galleries showcase the work of painters, sculptors, glass blowers, photographers – and, best of all, the kids in our schools. All I have to do is notice what is already there.
2. Every day, read something interesting. Interesting reading is also tremendously easy to find. A tidbit in the newspaper, a chapter in a book, a profile in a magazine, a poem in a literary journal, a paper by one of my students. Any of these can spark questions, curiosity, the desire to learn or think or explore.
3. Every day, connect with a bigger perspective. The universe is vast, and I am not. As I write this piece, our own winter snow is melting, yet the other coast of my country is being slammed by blizzards. As I write this piece, the continents are shifting imperceptibly. As I write this piece, new stars are being born as old ones die. And, my friends excel at giving me opportunities to realize there is a large world out there. They go out and do amazing things, and share their wisdom learned from experience. My only job is to listen.
4. Every day, recognize someone else’s efforts. Easy, because every day someone helps me in ways large or small. Thank the person who clears carts from the grocery store parking lot. Recognize the person who let you have the right of way through a narrow path in the snow. Acknowledge the mail carrier. Notice the hard work of a custodian. Smile, say thank you, and watch them light up. Notice how you light up, too.
5. Every day, laugh at myself. Now this one can be a real challenge, but it helps if you surround yourself with people who are able to laugh at themselves, too. It’s not that hard to catch myself being ridiculous. It’s only difficult, at times, to quiet my ego long enough, so I can remember to laugh.
How does all this add up to the care and feeding of creativity? I mean, will all these steps lead to the results I want? Will I become thinner, kinder, more beautiful, richer? Will my works in progress become, finally, the completed books I want them to be?
Well, that leads me to the last item on my list:
6. Don’t worry about it. Beauty, interest, perspective, gratitude, and laughter – if these things are in my life every day, what else do I need?
Elizabeth Fountain is the author of An Alien’s Guide to World Domination and You, Jane, both published by BURST Books. She writes stories of aliens and angels, humans who try even when the odds are against them, and dogs who save the day. You can read more of her thoughts at her blog, Point No Point.