8: untapping a childlike flow of creativity

More than once, I’ve sat down to write my daily post and just felt rather uninspired.

Which is a bummer, sure, but also just perplexing because I know I have this vivid imagination inside of my head that’s just teeming with creativity and ideas.

I just don’t always know how to tap into it.

In general, I think my imagination operates on its own agenda, doing what it wants whenever it feels like it. Occasionally this is for my benefit, and I’ll suddenly be inspired to snap a photo or sit down and write a piece of music.

Sometimes it works against me, grabbing hands with my anxieties and running amok.

And it’s powerful. I have created art that I am proud of. I have also been crippled with worry over hypothetical scenarios. I know I have the capacity to imagine both wonderful and terrible things.

So I think to myself how useful it would be to be able to harness all of that power to channel into projects when I wanted it, and not just when my brain decides it’s time to be inspired.

I think that as kids, our minds are a constantly flowing tap of boundless imagination.

We don’t actually know much about anything when we’re very young, but we know enough to have a vague context. Within that context, everything we see, feel and hear ignites some primal reaction, and we fill in the blanks with our creativity.

That’s how a child can look at an unimpressive back yard and see a whole kingdom of invisible characters and quests.

It’s how I was able to stay up late at night under the covers, holding 3-way conversations with my two favorite stuffed toys, one of which was a football (I wish I could remember her name).

My capacity to imagine intensely was supported by my environment, one in which it was okay to be creative, to dream big. I had a good family who encouraged me (and, at times, forced me) to pursue artistic endeavors, and good teachers who thought my ideas were cool.

As adults, I think the weight of reality tends to smother our creativity.

We still have original thoughts all day long, every day. But now, our brains are so chock full of context that almost immediately we’re able to conjure up discouraging thoughts to counter them.

“That’s been done.”
“That’d be way too much work.”
“That doesn’t make sense.”
“You don’t have time for that.”
“What if you fail?”

That once ceaselessly-flowing tap is stopped up with “realistic” doubts and excuses.

And just like that, those little flickers of inspiration are extinguished as quickly as they came.

If there was a way to truly harness our creativity at will, perhaps it would be easier to maintain that inspiration.

Admittedly, I’ve been wanting to start a daily writing routine for a very long time. For years I’ve tried carrying journals, but they never stuck. I would get inspired for a day or two and then forget to write for months.

So now I’m experimenting with public accountability as a way to consistently demand from myself some kind of creative output. So far so good, I’ve been pleased with most of my posts.

It’s my hope that, as I practice daily, the creativity comes easily. In time, I hope to be able to harness it when I need it, to be channeled toward career endeavors and artistic projects.

In other words, I’m hope to get the tap flowing again and flood my life with creative energy.

Guess we’ll see how this goes.


2 Replies to “8: untapping a childlike flow of creativity”

  1. I know that I already mentioned to you how much I enjoyed and related to this post, but just a couple more ideas I have running through my head on the topic…
    You say that you think being able to harness creativity at will is what would help us reconnect to that same unapologetic creativity we experienced as children, however, I don’t think that I was able to control my creativity when I was young either. I think it definitely came more easily and I was more in-tune with my creative self to allow those thoughts and ideas to emerge, but I don’t think I actually chose when they emerged. I think I had a lack of awareness for any other way to behave or address those feelings, so that translated into not filtering out any of my thoughts or behaviors no matter how silly or weird. For example, as a child I ran around talking to trees and making up stories about the adventures they had when humans weren’t around, but now as an “adult” I know that behavior isn’t very socially acceptable. I filter out that kind of imagination before I can even act on it. But why? Why do we associate imagination so strongly with childhood that it’s then considered childish or silly to continue to pretend and play and create when we grow up? So I’m curious if the transition comes from our ability to control ourselves better as we grow up, and in doing so we actually monitor our own thoughts and behaviors and stunt our creativity that in childhood would have just overflowed and emerged more naturally. We find more grown-up ways to express ourselves now, which can be equally as fun if we can get rid of some of those discouraging thoughts and just go for it.

    Thanks for the spark <3

    1. You’re welcome, and I think you make incredibly valid points (no surprise, coming from you).
      The big question is, are we correct in the ways in which we monitor those thoughts and behaviors? After all, like you said, we do what we think is socially acceptable. We might get better at “controlling” ourselves as we age, but to me it just doesn’t seem natural.

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