Monday Motivation: Having Fun
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”
~ Albert Einstein
How could you have fun with your creativity this week? What would enliven your creative practice — dancing to your favourite song? Involving a trusted friend? Going out on an artist’s date to a new museum? Using a new set of coloured pencils? Trying out a new dance move? Learning a new song? Enjoying nature as your creative muse?
When we’re living a creative life, it’s all too easy to forget to have fun. We get caught up in making sure we have written an “acceptable” number of words for the day, that we have “mastered” a particular technique, or that we have “stuck” to a certain palette of colours. And yes, there’s room for all that cerebral stuff, but there’s also so much room for fun. Honestly.
Now, I kept forgetting this. I got very focused on making sure I was creating things in the “right way”. Let me tell you something: there is no right way to create. There’s only your way. And that way can be as fun and enjoyable or serious and enjoyable as you want — providing you’re creating in a way that works for you, that nourishes you and lights you up. But there was a time when I’d forget this. I’d get hyper-focused on making sure I was taking all the “right” steps, that if this author writes this way, or if that musician practices that way, then those are the ways I need to approach my creativity.
You know what my creativity said to that? It wasn’t polite, not even for my ears. And after that, it dried up like a husk.
I tried everything. I sat, butt-in-chair, for the “required” hours per day, unable to bleed even a few words onto a page. I watched TED talk after TED talk. I read book after book. I tried everything I could — every tip, every technique that I could lay my hands on. But for a while my words were slippery through my fingers and didn’t want to play.
And that’s the point: play. Oh, they wanted to play. All my creative instincts wanted to play. But not on anyone else’s terms. They wanted to play in a way that was fun and enjoyable for me, that was uniquely mine. And that way didn’t look like anyone else’s that I’d encountered thus far. My creative muscles and my intelligence wanted to have fun.
Now, there’s something that creativity loves just as much as it loves fun — and that thing is softness. It doesn’t like being forced, coerced, whipped into gear. I had to learn to soften into it, to lift off the pressure. Now, even when you’re creating to a deadline, it’s possible to approach your project with a soft attitude, to hold it with gentleness and nurture the words that bleed forth from your pen, the music that spills out of your guitar, the sculpture that takes shape beneath your palms. Forcing it, being hard and harsh in your approach, only “strangles the puppy”, as my good friend and fellow coach Lynne says.
And so, when I’m creative, I soften and relax, and encourage my creativity by injecting fun into things. When I’m writing, this usually involves playing Taylor Swift very loudly whilst I’m sitting at my desk. I sing along, loudly — sometimes I’m even in pitch. I drum my palms against my desk. And I dance a lot, both in my chair and around the home office. Sometimes I scoop up one of the cats — usually Jedza, our black Norwegian Forest Cat — and swirl around with her in my arms. At the same time, my creative muscle is having a blast as it works through plot scenarios or blog post ideas. And then I’m writing again… Or there’s the times when I start my piano practice with some of my favourite pieces, just for the joy of them, before I run through my scales or whichever bars are up next.
This doesn’t just apply to creativity. It applies to spirituality and intuition too. My personal spiritual practice often slows and goes stagnant when I’m forcing it, when I’m not truly connecting, when I’m going through the motions. My intuition runs dry. If I make it all more fun, if I soften into it, then it sparkles with life again and I feel more nourished and whole. Sometimes this looks like trying a new or different meditation technique, or spending some time tending to my altar spaces, or playing with a different tarot deck. Sometimes it’s including music or crafts, or going out into Mother Nature and enjoying the wild world. Sometimes it’s intentionally choosing a specific colour of yarn or type of fibre for my meditative knitting project, and enjoying myself as I knit — usually when I’m listening to an audiobook, podcast, or Netflix, or sitting with my emotions and holding them as gently and softly as I hold the yarn and needles. Sometimes it’s a good cup of tea with a friend. This, to me, is fun, and it nourishes and nurtures, empowers and encourages, and revitalises and re-centres me in my day.
So, on this Monday: how could you inject some fun into your creative or spiritual practices this week?