Keeping the creative (right) side of your brain strong.

Push your creative boundaries. I drew this.

Push your creative boundaries. I drew this.

Just as I have started coming to terms with the appalling effects of gravity on my 44 y.o. butt (let us not revisit that trauma) I’m worried that something else is giving way too. The creative right side of my brain is not what it used to be. Newsflash – as we get older our creativity diminishes. I’m sure there’s a medical reason for this – but actually I think that the cause is encapsulated by the saying, “Use it, or lose it”. Whatever the reason, I just know that I’m not ready to sit idly by while half of my brain slowly loses its sparkle. Frankly, I need ALL of my brain.

Losing creative power is a deeply personal assault. I’ve always been told I am a creative person. The loss of my butt upsets me, but my butt doesn’t define me, whereas my creativity definitely does. Fortunately just as I was beginning to despair I learned that just as the brain gets weaker – it can also get stronger. Hoo-bloomin-ray! Oprah (I can’t believe that I am citing Oprah – but she’s got the goods on this) has summarized the research findings from a raft of different, highly reputable, universities on her site http://www.oprah.com/health/The-Science-Behind-Brain-Activity-Enhancing-Brainpower/1 . It’s a great article. The bottom line is that the key to rebuilding creativity is to start pushing your creative boundaries.

Pushing back is the key to my fight back strategy. I actually started reinvigorating my creativity a few years ago. Step 1 (below) was the first part of my strategy – it was simple, but effective. I just did something new each week. I confess, when I set myself this task I hadn’t put a finger on what I was trying to achieve – I just felt that I was in a rut. It seemed a long time since I’d done anything new – let alone create anything new. For example, if I was baking – I’d bake something I’d made before. If I was writing, I’d dig out something I’d done before and use it as a base. There’s nothing wrong with recycling your work – and re-inventing the wheel is a waste of time and energy. Regrettably though, my approach was not leaving room for creativity or original thought. With that, I believe that my ability to develop new ideas was diminishing.

So, earlier this year when I started to understand what I was fighting against – the death of creativity, I built my structured Creativity Fight Back Strategy. My fight back strategy has dramatically increased my creativity. For example, I’m writing my blog posts! …which I love doing. I’m baking and creating new recipes. I’m drawing again – I haven’t done that for twenty years.

So I entreat you! Get on it. Start rebuilding your creativity. IT IS NOT TOO LATE.

Gorgeous Knickers Creativity Fight Back Strategy

  1. Try new things. Easy as that. A few years back, as one of my New Years Resolutions I resolved to try three new things every week. It can be as simple as cooking a new recipe, seeing a new movie, or reading a new book. Don’t cheat, make it three different things. Keep track of your progress by auditing your activities every week. This really made a BIG difference to me.
  2. If you have a camera, start a photo journal. Choose a topic or a theme that resonates with you. I love to bake and I have challenged myself to bake my way though the alphabet (see my Cookie Society blog) – so I have been photographing what I bake. Whiz over to the Cookie Society –my photos have really improved! I am also preparing a photo-a-day journal for the month of March. It’ll be a gift for my parents-in-law.
  3. Do or learn something that you’ve always wanted to do. It could be another language or a skill like wood-working or leather craft. Whatever it is, find a course and lock it in! I’ve decided to learn to speak German. I confess I did enroll, but being over-enthusiastic I’ve had to postpone this activity until I have a bit more time.
  4. Start a creative project. I’m making some jewellery that I saw on the internet. I’m going to write about this for a future blog on saving money. I’m also sewing my own curtains. …actually that’s another money-saving adventure, but I don’t recommend that as a fun thing for everyone to do! If sewing curtains isn’t your thing – then there are plenty of other things to do. Check out this great creative blog, The Creative Journal – it’s run by friends of mine. 
  5. Start writing. I started my blog which began out of a desire to journalise my experiences (see my first post “In the beginning”). I have also begun writing a children’s book for my kids. I am loving writing. I haven’t structured essays, or cared so much about grammar, since I was at school!

Gorgeous Knickers Challenge

Do at least one thing this week that you haven’t done before.

Tell me what you will do (comment below). I would LOVE to hear your ideas on reversing the downward creative spiral!

Resources

I loved Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk “Your Elusive Creative Genius” – not as much as her book “Eat, Pray, Love”, but it was an interesting insight into creativity.

There are a tonne of creative blogs that you can follow. I recommend these blogs because they have kept me thinking and extending myself. I’ve found that the blogs I am following evolves as I learn more about a creative pursuit and form opinions on it. For example, I originally followed a lovely cooking blog – but the blog used packet mixes and ingredients that weren’t consistent with my belief in unprocessed foods. So I moved to blogs with a different philosophy. I have also chosen a couple of blogs that are authored by some wonderfully talented friends, The Creative Journal.

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