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Creative Juice

Do you know the pressure of needing or wanting to do something creative and coming up empty?  Maybe you have been faced with the shared office retirement card and feel unable to say something witty in five words or less.  Or perhaps a school writing prompt simply left you scratching your head.  Sometimes, when the kids in our life want to play pretend or get crafty, we have no idea how to enter their world.  Or we may even stare into the kitchen cupboard with no gumption to combine those ingredients to create a meal.

Some of us are more inclined to be creative than others, but all of us have some kind of built-in creativity.  It takes an abundance of creativity to accomplish higher level math, for example, or to breathe new life into a classic car, or solve the logistics of scheduling shift work.  Successful project planning can be just as nuanced and intricate as a movie score or a sculpture.  Regardless of the art form, though, we all seem to run out of creative juice at some point.

I am most likely to feel like my creative juice is on backorder when I am also feeling stressed out or overwhelmed in some way.  If I have not let it get too far, I can recognize that I probably have been neglecting my time for "meaningless" creativity.  These are the projects that are not job related or profitable; the ones that appear meaningless except for the fact that, if I fail to make time for them, I cannot be as productive when I need to be.  I know, it sounds counterintuitive that the prescription for lack of creativity is to spend more time being creative, but I really believe it helps.  

Suddenly, in the midst of a meaningless art project, my mind solves a work dilemma.  Or while planting some succulents, I finally find the compassion to start a difficult conversation with a loved one.  It can be that we discover our laughter again, and the sweet release of stress, while engaged in an impromptu kitchen dance party.  Or we re-engage with awe and wonder as we take time to appreciate masterpieces in museums and nature, thus sparking possibility in places our minds were previously stumped.  Here is the most perplexing twist of all: I have to schedule this meaningless creativity even if I don't feel like it.

I refused to take an art class in high school because, I argued, true art could not be produced on demand.  There are lots of holes in that logic, but the core lesson I missed all those years ago is that creativity most certainly can begin with discipline and scheduling and even instruction.  I also now understand that we are creative beings, made in the image of a creative God.  We are not likely to be at our best without tuning in and practicing creativity--again, in any number of its forms.  I cannot only do something a little creative when I am feeling artistic, I need to do a little art to feel creative.  Like changing the oil on schedule, my creative juices take me further when they are replenished before the warning light comes on.

What helps fuel your creativity?  Tell someone about it, and set a goal with them to schedule that activity.  Ask them to follow up and hold you accountable to some "meaningless" creativity.   Invite someone to get creative with you, or ask to join them in their hobby if you are still discovering how you like to be creative.  Share stories about restocking your creative juices on social media as controversy-free encouragement to uplift your friends and followers.  Above all, enjoy and thank God for whatever creative gift you have been given!

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