Want to Be Creative? Don’t Do Anything.

Posted on: Feb 07, 2018

Today, I give you permission to do nothing. That’s right: absolutely nothing.

Life in 2018 is filled with too many things that feel like doing nothing: scrolling through Facebook, watching Netflix, waiting in traffic. That’s not the kind of “nothing” I’m talking about.

I am talking about intentional idleness.

Isn’t it funny how on vacations, lying around is an activity?

During summer beach trips when my kids were little, there was no lying around.  But then the summer came when all three could swim, and they were old enough to handle the waves and watch over each other. So what did I do? I actively lay on the beach!!

But, as soon as my week of idleness was over, I returned to my wake-up-rush-the-kids-out-the-door-and-go-to-work life.

But our souls still long for vacation, don’t they? There’s a reason for that.

Idle activities are the tools of uncovering your creative genius.

I’m so used to setting 15-minute timers to complete tasks and checking off lists that when it comes to creativity, I get caught between process and product.

Too often, we trade our imagination for implementation, and yet our creativity, our imagination thrives in idleness. That’s right: doing nothing is a necessary part of the creative process.

 

“The imagination needs moodling… long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling, and puttering…” -Brenda Ueland

 

Moodling. I love that! I want to give myself permission to moodle more. 🙂

Of course, being the uber-doer I am, it is hard for me to allow myself this purposeful unproductivity—and it feels like the opposite of uncovering my creativity. But it’s exactly the right thing to do.

Inspiration is less like a light bulb turning on suddenly and more like a sunrise arriving gradually. Sometimes, a sunrise is covered with big grey clouds and lots of fog, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t rise, just as your empty page doesn’t mean you didn’t write.

So if you yearn to express and create more, try idling.

Not sure where to begin in your idleness journey? I have a few ideas!

Go to a coffee shop for no reason. Don’t bring your laptop and don’t invite a friend—just to sit and take in the smells, people watch, and daydream. (Have a journal nearby)

Turn off the radio. Forgo music to let your mind wander and your eyes really take in your daily commute. Be fully present for the drive, daydreaming allowed.

Take a walk. No, not a jog for exercise. Not even a power walk. Meander for the purpose of noticing and reflecting.

Practice unguided meditation. Instead of an instructor or an app telling me where to place my thoughts in quiet moments,  I’ve been practicing meditation without any instruction. Set a timer, let yourself feel uncomfortable, settle in and allow yourself to idle.  

Lie on the beach. No explanation needed.

While solitude leads to creativity, it helps to begin the journey with others. That’s why I’m so excited about my first-ever Creative Uncovery workshop! It will be on February 21st at Elemental Om in Loveland, Ohio from 6:30-9:00 p.m.

I also host a private group on Facebook for individuals seeking to uncover their creative potential. Click here to join us!