I never thought I was a creative person. I wasn’t very good at art when I was at school and for some reason, this is the creativity test we put ourselves through. The general consensus is good at art = creative and bad at art = not creative. This is a terrible way to measure creativity. The truth, is that we’re all creative in some way because as humans we’re designed to be creative, and if we weren’t we’d still be living in caves.
We use our creativity to solve problems like having nothing to wear, but more importantly we use it to satisfy our basic need to be creative. Consider the way you decorate your home, the way you put an outfit together or just solve a simple problem like hunger – yes, making a meal is creative. We’re all much more creative than we give ourselves credit for, but we often insist on resistance.
Creativity is something I’ve become really passionate about since starting my blog. As you know I consider myself a minimalist and thanks to this approach to life, I’ve finally started to recognise it as one of my core values and it’s something I intentionally nurture. I want you to know how even a slice of minimalism can accelerate your creativity because I believe there are plenty of ‘weren’t good at art suppressed creatives’ out there and I hope that sharing my story and my perspective will help.
Pre-minimalism I had very little awareness of my creativity. I looked up to creative people, the ones who worked for themselves, the ones who could draw and the ones who had artistic talents. I longed to be that way and I loved to surround myself with creative people, yet I never noticed how my own creativity was crying to come out. On reflection it was always there, my obsession with curating a cohesive Instagram feed is a good example. This blog, my writing and photography are all a result of making space in my life for them and then giving myself permission to take them seriously.
Minimalism brought constraints into my life. I intentionally welcome constraints in the form of saying no to anything that doesn’t add real value to my life. It’s a mindset that allows me to focus on the things that do add value. Unbeknown to me at the time, constraints breed creativity and the opposite is also true. Too much choice makes us anxious because we find it overwhelming. Psychologists call this the paradox of choice. We usually feel this anxiety because we fear making the wrong decision. The answer is to limit the amount of decisions available and to do that we need limitations in place.
Our creativity needs space to breathe. If I’m out with friends I don’t even like or cleaning a house full of stuff that doesn’t add any value to my life, I’m not being creative. I’m distracting myself by people pleasing and focusing on all the wrong things in my life instead of focusing on what does add value. Getting rid of all those distractions did me the world of good. It got rid of the noise and allowed the real me to start coming through. It cleared up a lot of anxiety too.
Open the door to minimalism and your creativity may just come flooding through the door – mine did. Many thanks to @inkifi_instagram for sending me my creative work via their mini prints. I’m not usually one for physical prints but seeing my work in the flesh felt so satisfying. They reminded me of the good old Polaroid days. I’ve written a new blog post all about creativity and minimalism and why you need both in your life. The link is in my bio. Does simplicity aid your creativity? Let me know what you think. #createeveryday #advertisement
It’s important to give serious thought to where creativity sits on your list of priorities, and it should be high up. We need creativity, because we’re born to be creative and it feeds our soul. There’s a reason colouring books for adults have come into fashion. It doesn’t have to be art, it can be photography, putting old cars back together, building something, writing, gardening or anything else you enjoy. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to start your own business, but you feel too busy to even consider starting it. Think about how much attention you’ve given it lately and then think about how much you wish you’d given it. Give yourself that permission by prioritising it over all the other things that aren’t adding value to your life. Do you really want to meet up with those friends? Does your house really need cleaning again? Ask yourself what else you could do with that time.
If you’re looking for practical ways to add constraints to your professional, home and social life this article constraints can breed creativity and limitations can create freedom is brilliant. Sarah has a great list of ideas.
These are some practical ways I’ve brought constraints and creativity into my life
- My desk space is clutter free. No photos of family or friends, stationary, trinkets or anything that might distract me. I keep photography and writing inspiration on Pinterest for when I want to soak some up
- I only say yes when I’m at least 90% sure
- I stick to a neutral colour palette for my wardrobe and home decor
- If it doesn’t bring me joy or add real value to my life, I declutter it
- I’m clear on the things I like and the things I don’t like from how I like to spend my time to things I like to write about and photograph
Self doubt aside, I’m proud of my creative work but I don’t believe it would exist without minimalism. I’d still be admiring other blogs and wondering what my own might look, all the while doubting my own ability to be creative. Open the door to living your life with more intention, give yourself less choice and your creativity may just flood through the door.
Whenever I look back on my Instagram feed these days, which I often do (I’m openly an Instagram obsessive), I realise just how far my creativity has come and I can trace it all back to introducing minimalism into my life. I’m grateful for that and I felt it was a secret worth sharing with you.
Creativity will always take courage and as much as I’d love to tell you minimalism will solve all your problems, it won’t. You’ll still need to work on having the courage to be creative that but the clarity and inspiration minimalism will give you, will take you far.
If you take just one thing from this article, let it be this; You need creativity in your life to fulfil your basic needs. Your creativity needs minimalism because constraints breed creativity. That doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself, simply embrace some limitations and create a life for yourself that allows your creativity to breathe.
Have you had a similar experience with creativity bursts post minimalism? Are you inspired to try a few constraints of your own? I could talk about this subject all day so please let me know in the comments below.
The Instagram photo prints featured in the images are courtesy of Inkifi.com and are available via their website.
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