One of the most exhilarating, and yet simultaneously frightening, challenges of many jobs is having to show up to work and be creative or come up with ideas on a regular basis. To some degree, we should all be challenging ourselves to come up with ideas in some way, shape or form (and in ministry and nonprofits, we often don’t have much of a choice but to keep up with the surrounding creativity to remain “seen”). But for the majority of us, it can be tough to come up with creative ideas in our line of work. And yet, that’s often the expectation isn’t it?
Most of the time we don’t have the luxury of waiting until we just “feel” inspired to work on ideas and projects. We’re almost always on a deadline of some kind.
So since we’re in the beginning of a new (inspired) year, we thought we would record a podcast episode on some of the different practices and disciplines that keep our team coming up with fresh creativity and inspired ideas.
We list a lot of different practices that work for us in the podcast (which you should definitely listen to), but there’s one in particular that has really helped me as of late.
I’ve recently had a bit of a breakthrough in my creativity. When in a creative slump, I’ve often thought of it as a “mental block.” If you camped outside my office long enough, you would probably hear me yell in desperation, “I’m stuck!!!”
But I’ve learned that’s not really true.
Anne Lamott famously said, “The word block suggests that you are constipated or stuck, when the truth is that you’re empty.”
“Stuck” suggests that you need to try harder.
“Empty” prompts you to fill up.
Understanding my creative slump as the result of being empty gives me the permission to engage in the activities that fill me up. What does that look like for you? Maybe you need to:
- Watch a movie
- Take a walk outdoors
- Play with your kids
- Call a friend
- Nap (yes, really)
It seems like many of the above are distractions, but in fact, if you’re stumped and not inspired, you may just need to surround yourself with the very things that ignite and energize your mind the most (and in these cases, it’s often not something directly related to your work or mission). I bet you’ll see this works a lot more effectively than simply “trying harder.”
If you’re interested in hearing more of our tips for being your most creative self, we have quite a few other ideas we’re sharing on the podcast (six others to be exact). Listen in on iTunes or click here.