Make a Creativity Inventory

zflick-3507These days, a lot of people confess to me that they are simply "not creative," as if creativity were condition of genetic determination that they have no control over. Like being born with red hair instead of brown hair.  You got it, or you didn't get it. That drives me crazy.

So listen, people, we're ALL creative. And it's my job to help you open your eyes to the multitude of ways that you move through your days with quite amazing creative skills. To help you begin that process, I invite you to take a very quick creativity inventory of your days. It will help you identify areas of interest that reveal where you lean into your creative propensities.

Make a list of 6 or 7 things that really interest you, things you would likely pay attention to or think about every day, or at least several times a week. They are things that you give your precious time and energy to, things you are drawn to. They may be topics that you read magazines or books about, or websites that interest you. They might be activities you would be drawn to do if you were traveling and in a new place. Don't think too hard about this. Just think of the things that you are attracted to looking at or doing or making--even if you don't consider yourself good at the activity. I'll show you mine to give you an idea of what I mean.

1) fashion. I love nice clothes and shoes. I like to shop. I notice how people dress. I love seeing a bold or creative style. I like material and texture. In doctor's offices, I like to look at the fashion magazines, and when I travel I like to look in interesting shops.

2) home design and organization. I have a small, modest home, but I love making it as pretty and comfortable as I can. I have interesting art work on the walls. I am constantly upgrading furniture and decor. I enjoy looking at home design magazines, articles on architecture, the latest in feng shui techniques, and all things having to do with home organization.

3) garden. I like working in my tiny back yard and making it a lovely outdoor room. I regularly read garden magazines, and when I travel I love to go on garden tours or check out garden shops.

4) design. I have always been drawn to lines, shapes, textures, and contours of objects and structures. I have taken up drawing, love beautiful papers, and have taken some workshops in making cards. I'm fascinated by all combinations of these concepts as they appear in collage and color splash. This manifests as an interest in art, architecture, and pen and ink drawing.

5) words/language. OK I know that's a big category, but I like writing, obviously. I like beautiful writing. I am drawn to what I call "thought spaces" that can be created by words, whether that comes in literature, in art, in design, or in conversation.  So I'm drawn like a magpie to words as they are integrated with color, shape, and image in public spaces: graffiti walls,  posters, bumper stickers, museums, office walls, and billboards.

6) yoga. I am a dedicated yogi, practicing and teaching yoga every day. I read about, study, watch, and experience yoga as much as I can.

7) provocative spaces. I know this sounds vague, but I wanted to add this to my profile because it's a concept that I’ve been mulling over for years, and it’s the closest I can get to describing what I like to do when I am teaching— and it's an area I think I am fairly creative in. I love pulling together groups of people for the purpose of study and personal growth. This takes place in classes I teach, book groups, workshops, coaching/mentoring, and loose conversations. A lot of my time is devoted to creating provocative spaces where good experiences can happen.

OK, those are some of the enduring interests in my life, the arenas where I might say I take a modicum of  creative pleasure.   Notice, one of those (#7) is actually my job. But when you make your own inventory, you don't have to list your job unless you have a lot of creative energy around the work that you do. Remember, your creative passion is not always the way you make your living.

Also important to note, your creativity may not be demonstrated in something that you do every day. For instance, I love to eat and I want to eat healthy foods, so I spend a lot of time reading about food, searching recipes, buying food, preparing food for consumption. But this is not an area that I feel very creative in. My cooking is rather mundane. And if I could afford it, I would have a personal chef preparing food for me and my friends. But for my friend Wendy, food is a highly creative outlet. She is a master chef and her food is definitely an art form. So you see the difference? Don't put things on the list that you are not energized by, OK? Like laundry. I do a ton of laundry every day, but I certainly don't consider that one of my creative endeavors.

So now what? What does taking an inventory like this reveal?

Well, for one thing, I hope it shows you that you do indeed have a lot of artfulness in your life. It pinpoints moments of artful appreciation (seeing, admiring, appreciating something that is done well), arenas of artful living (places of elegance, precision, and/or excellence in your days), and examples of artful creating (things that you already make, build, construct, organize, and do on a regular basis). Also, making a creative inventory may reveal an area that you would like to devote more of your time and energy to. It might indicate an area that you have a lot of good energy around, but that you really need to get more instruction on. Or maybe you need to be more diligent in giving time and space to this arena of your life.  What would need to change in order for that to happen?

Moments of time, arenas of experience, and examples of productivity are what we're trying to identify here. Look around and find the spaces of your life that are clear demonstrations of your creativity, or of your creative spirit. And then honor and take pleasure in those spaces! And please, stop saying you’re not creative!

If you want help in establishing life structures and habits that will give you more creative traction in one or more of the items on your creativity inventory, please contact me for a no-cost 90-minute Creative Momentum Session.  We'll explore ways  you can ramp up your performance in or your appreciation of your creative interests.