Some days, yes.
On such mornings, I try to ignite my imagination by employing the innocent phrase, “what if…?”
“What if… this bottle wasn’t a bottle?”
“Okay… What if… (*picks up peel with Dole sticker still on it*) this banana was alive? Before I ate it?”
(You did that already.)
“What… if I’m a bird?”
(Did you take notes from Shia LaBeouf’s notebook before you plagiarized “The Notebook”?)
“Well, what IF Obama came on air, pursed his lips, did a dramatic pause, and then said ‘Ugggh…I quit’ in his still serious political orator tone, before kissing and throwing up the peace sign and departing in his chopper?”
(That’s been done before too, Ashley. By Nixon.)
“Fine… Well, what if the weatherman was wrong forever? I mean, like, if every day from now on until the end of time – every report everywhere was 100% wrong.”
(Not bad. But they kinda already half do that with the regular news. Keep trying…)
“Okay. What if there were a switch in my brain for creativity?”
(Now, you’re talking. You go find it and come wake me from my nap when you do.)
Yes, creating can be tough.
I’ve read numerous articles on how to cultivate and educe your creative genius, but sometimes going by all the numbers on the outside still isn’t enough to power on the inner inspo switch. Some days your fingers just touch the keyboard or the Strathmore or that pile of muddy clay sitting in your studio, and magic flows right through you. You’re not even there. You quote me on whatever article you like best that I’ve written (there’s at least one, right? Right?! Bueller?!!), and I probably won’t remember it. Not because I LaBeouf’d it, but because it’s like creativity can only start for me when typical thoughts stop. So what helps spur that? A lot of things I’ve listed before – and a lot I haven’t (and stumbled on today, thinking “wait… what?”)
1. “WHAT IF”
That exercise I detailed up above (which happened in my head and I shared with you in real time) is just one of many I have to do each day to try and kickstart something worth me writing about and anyone else reading ever. I’ve shared a few of the others before (meditate, do something outta your comfort zone, find something that makes you laugh or just happy, exercise). And those are my priority go-to’s. But uttering the words “what if…” can open whole new doors. Sure, your first few sentences might start off boring – but you’ll eventually hit on something. Do it with a friend via text, and you’ll unravel a whole ball of awesome that’ll have you hunched over your work gargoyle style until your ass becomes pancake level: white girl.
2. STATIC, WAVES, AND OTHER AMBIENT NOISE
Sometimes working at a Starbucks coffee table is too distracting.
I’m judgmental, even though I try not to be, so I come there with the best intentions and just end up dining on an internal shade-uccino the entire time. It’s almost as tragic as the cost of the tall soy green tea latte I’m guzzling. Likewise, music can cause the same prob. Especially if it’s got lyrics in it. Some ambient no-word drone music is alright. But even better is working to the sounds of ocean waves set on loop. Some friends will recommend “white noise”. This is good – and it’s essentially the same idea – just enough interruption from the monotony of current thoughts to break you into new ones. Anything to break me free from Gwen’s “Get off’a my cloud” repeating in my head.
And my confused feelings about hating her song and worshipping her simultaneously.
“Are you there God? It’s me, writer’s block.”
The reason given for journaling is typically pretty good: it’s tangible and you can see it in a different way than on a screen when it’s on paper. My yes-and to this, however, comes from this new study done on how our relationship to technology changes our mind-body connection. While the study mostly looked at smartphones vs. thumb and fingers, I’m an excellent example of what happens at a laptop. Because when I write, my whole right arm – from the fingers up to where my neck and shoulder meet, are like this upper extremity version of McGowan’s machinegun gam in Grindhouse. It’s trigger ready and loaded up on tension ammo so long as my fingers are touching the keys. And I end up having to do some massive stretching to counteract it later. Weird right? But wait, it gets weirder: Even when I’m not at my work station (let’s say I’m just sat on a park bench somewhere, reading and not working), if a creative thought pops up – my whole arm up to the neck-crotch goes into a spasm and my neck twists. It’s like something outta a Bruce Campbell horror flick. And it’d be funny if it weren’t so vexing. (Nevermind, it’s still funny.)
My point? When I start spewing out ideas in a non-typey form, it opens my brain to realizing:
“Hey! We can create without becoming demonically posses-… Swallow your soul! I’LL SWALLOW YOUR SOUL!!!!1”
(If I do it enough, it even translates to a more relaxed experience back at the laptop.)
4. KITCHEN CREATIVITY
(My idea of an apron. And I don’t even fry.)
Yes, I know I can’t cook. But I will say this: when I take a kitchen break (even if it’s just to prepare coffee for intravenous ingestion), there is something about the process of food and beverage arranging that brings me back to coordinating thoughts in an orderly way. Some claim it’s like music – whether you’re harmonizing notes or tastes, it’s all about interconnecting seemingly separate stuff. Maybe this is why I mix in a minimum of five different tea bags every time I make it.
My inner scientist gets to experiment while my inner artist gets to create.
And my overall procrastinator is getting satiated too.
5. BLUE COCOON
Finally – this is one’a those “what the what?” ones I was talking about.
Surround myself in blue, you say? The color blue, apparently, is one that can help foster creative thinking. According to the University of British Colombia, sky-colored stuff unlocks our imagination, so we’d all do best to have more of it around. 3 side thoughts to that:
A. My childhood room was blue and I was indeed way more creative then than I am now.
B. Hey, maybe this is why I’m so unproductive on dismal days. I’m not depressed. I’m obviously in withdrawal from this cold turkey inducing blanket of grey clouds.
C. I wonder how this relates to “blue light vs. amber light” – and if those artists who thrive at night would be as awake and driven to make stuff if you took away their blue-lit technology exposure (or installed f.lux) after hours when we’re not meant to be around it.
So let’s tally up these new protips: Ambient waves for static noise, constant exposure to blue, kitchen adventures, journaling, and asking “what if”… Hey, wait! “What if”… the optimal “creativity switch” is me switching homes and creating a seaside restaurant in Hawaii? Where the ambient wave noises are free? And you can journal on the beach during lunch break from serving lunch? And the sky’s always blue enough to cocoon you into manifesting magic from your brain?
What if I should have done this like ten years ago?
What if this epic idea tragically dies right after I’m done sharing it with you?
What if ignoring these daydreams I create – is killing my creativity altogether?