“You cannot teach a man anything. You can only help him discover it within himself.” —Galileo Galilei
1. Try looking through a different lens (lots of them) both figuratively and literally. Try to ‘see’ with your eyes, your entire being, your soul, and not just with your ‘mind’.
2. Remember the golden rule: there are no rules. Define them, re-write them, play with them and burn each one as you go. There is no such thing as failure or unnecessary boundaries when you are creating.
3. No one is looking. Stop worrying about what the world is going to think. Just ‘do’. Free yourself of inhibitions as best you can (in fact, try the opposite of what inhibits you). You can’t force creative possession, but you can loosen the grip on what holds you back from your fullest expression. (Eventually something will budge if even for a single breath-taking expressive moment. Live that moment as though it was a lifetime.)
4. No matter what you’re doing—keep going. Never stop. Keep looking and keep searching even if you have not a single clue what you seek. Start again, start over a million times. (Throw away your flashlight or trade it in for a set of coloured pencils.)
5. Find a muse. Find a million of them. Choose (so-called) inanimate, animate, simple, complex and unusual objects. Explore something you know nothing about. Learn how it moves, how it sits and how it waits. Listen to what it’s whispering when no one is paying attention.
Find an artist that is alive, one that is dead and one that you know. For a day, explore the world through their eyes.
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”
6. Be unconventional. Combine unlikely pairs, colours, shapes, sizes, words, feelings, characters, expressions and sounds. Explore how contrast makes you feel beyond the ‘cage’? Don’t be afraid to go there.
7. You’ve heard it before—do something everyday that scares you. Wear something crazy. Talk to someone you’ve been afraid to talk to. Dance in a public place when everyone is looking. Touch a stranger. Listen to music you thought you hated. Sit in a dark closet. Close the door. What do you see? Explore how these experiences translate into the expression of you—of your art . (Go beyond the boundaries of old opinions.)
8. Use your entire body. Your hands and face, the small hairs at the nape of you neck and the tiny wrinkles located at the roots of your fingers. The shape of your hips, the strength in your thighs, your elbows and your pinky toes. Sway, jiggle, be still, mimic nature, become a wild animal, a cloud, the sun, a room, an entire galaxy. Use the greatest instrument you have to express this life—you. And, when you create, use all of it.
“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” —Sylvia Plath
9. Let go. If you can’t lose complete control, try it just a little bit. Most of us won’t ever experience completely letting go in this lifetime, or the next, or the next, but keep exploring the possibility that you don’t have to be in control of much of anything— who’s to say that you are anyways?!
10. When it gets uncomfortable. Stay. When in doubt. Stay. When it gets really hard. Stay. When you can’t see because there’s an ocean of tears in your eyes. Stay. When the only thing you want to do is leave. Stay. (Revert back to #4.)
11. Keep showing up. Keep showing up to your canvas, to your novel, to your memoir, to your guitar, to your yoga mat, to the dance floor, to the floor of your closet, to the forest, to you bike, to your running shoes…Keep showing up to your craft—whatever it is—keep showing up.
“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”
—Vincent Van Gogh
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