If you’ve been following me for a while you know that I believe strongly that we are ALL creative. We’re born with creativity and sadly as we go from childhood to adulthood, that creativity gets buried.
I say buried instead of lost because I feel like it’s always there, just under the surface and even if we ignore it, it bubbles to the surface now and then. Our creativity is an endless well. But it needs regular pumping to keep it operating smoothly.
Or, as previously mentioned, we can view it as a muscle that we need to continue to exercise in order to keep it healthy and in working order. For more on this go give a listen to my episodes about Creativity Cross Training AND Why Writing Should Be A Part Of Your Creative Process or listen on Spotify below.
As you can see, helping you (and myself to be perfectly honest) to remember to exercise your creativity is a pretty important message for me. It seriously bums me out to see people that, as children, were bursting with imagination and now as adults they go to their routine day job and feel like they just aren’t creative.
Worse is when we find ourselves feeling envious of those we see on social media who seem to be oozing creativity out of every pore of their body, which makes us look at ourselves and feel like we “just don’t have it”.
Trust me, I’m there more often than I care to admit.
But the truth is, it’s just a lie we’ve convinced ourselves of because we haven’t taken the time to nurture, use, and exercise our creativity muscle. So when I saw this bit of advice from James Altucher recently on a blog post he had shared, it stuck in my head and I knew I had to share it with you as well.
The full post is a fascinating read about a 10 year struggle he’s had addicted to an anti-anxiety medication called Klonopin. Something which was Doctor prescribed and came with an unfortunate side effect of being a temporary drug that leaves you forced to ween yourself off it over a terribly long time. Knowledge that may have been important BEFORE taking the prescription if you ask me, but read his post for the full story there.
Near the end of the article there is a section where James is talking about a “Daily Practice” he has that involves a series of just 4 questions he asks himself at the end of each day. I’m not going to get into the full breakdown here, maybe I’ll record an episode about it in the near future. Even better, maybe Mr. Altucher would be kind enough to join me for a bit of a conversation all about his daily practice so HE can share his insights with you and I.
But I do want to talk briefly about one part of his practice that I find absolutely fascinating. The concept of practicing creativity by sitting down purposefully and writing down 10 ideas, on paper, each and every day.
In following him for a while now on social media, I’ve seen him occasionally share some of his daily idea sessions and it wasn’t until I saw them listed as part of a daily practice that it clicked with me what he was doing.
It was simply exercise. No different than jumping on the treadmill and doing a little jogging everyday.
RULES FOR DAILY CREATIVITY PRACTICE
These are my rules that I’ve been able to deduce as I think about this and are not to be construed as rules Mr. Altucher is forcing upon you. And as with any rules in creativity, once you know the rules you are free to break them to further exercise your creativity.
- Paper. Pen. Pencil. Chalk. Crayola. It doesn’t matter HOW you write them down as long as you WRITE THEM DOWN.
- Keep them organized together. Store them in a folder, a journal, a cheap ass dollar store composition notebook. Anywhere that you can. Then re-visit in the future.
- Don’t judge the ideas as you write them. The goal isn’t to write 10 finished projects. Simply 10 creative ideas.
- Don’t overthink it.
- Find a theme if you can. I know I’ve seen Mr. Altucher share a list recently of “10 first lines of a piece of fiction” recently. He had no intention of them turning into anything important. It was just a theme to give a little bit of a constraint to work against. A vital part of our creative workflow.
- Remember, you don’t have to share your daily ideas with anyone but the paper you write them on.
- As such, don’t stress if you find yourself halfway through your list of 10 and feel like those first 5 sucked. You still have 5 more chances to get in a good rep during your set.
- Feel free to experiment with things. If you’re a photographer, you don’t have to write 10 ideas linked to photography every day.
- In fact, it’s best if you AVOID photography ideas MOST of the time because that is just a comfortable place for you that might not push your creative muscles enough. Simply put, you’ll soon see you’re in a rut and not actually gaining creative strength.
- Most importantly, let yourself have fun with this exercise. Our creative journey’s are something we typically do because we ENJOY making whatever it is we make. This exercise is just a tool to allow you to enjoy it even more.
From time to time going forward, I’m going to take a page out of Mr. Altucher’s book and share some of my daily 10 practice with you guys. For me personally, I feel like it’s good to push myself to share the progress in my own creative journey with you. I’m not comfortable sharing ALL of it, but I try to be an open book as much as possible.
Primarily because it helps keep me accountable to actually “practice what I’m preaching”. My biggest fear is feeling like I’m doling out advice but not actually being involved with the DOING of anything myself. Sharing my progress and experiments with you helps me ensure I’m DOING something. The downside is that my posts, episodes, social media content can be a bit all over the board, but I’m okay with that. Creativity SHOULD be messy, right?
Secondarily(that’s a word, right?) it invites you, the reader, the listener, the fellow adventurer, to see that I’m not some snobby creativity guru with my nose so high up in the air that a light mist is a drowning risk. I’ll never look down on anyone who’s in the trenches with me, doing the hard work of enjoying a creative journey. I’m just another guy that is in LOVE with, and fascinated by, creativity and the incredibly diverse ways that it shows up differently for each of us.
The idea has my curiosity at peak levels with the possibilities of what I might uncover within my own brain each day and I can’t wait to get started.
So what do you think, are you down to try out the daily 10 practice with me?
David (Usually Dave) Szweduik is a photographer, podcaster, and all around geek from the great state of Minnesota and can be found weekly on his podcast Adventures in Creativity. There you’ll find him having conversations fueled by curiosity around the amazing world of all things creativity.