How do creative ideas arise? By making space for them. There are two approaches to making space for innovation and inspiration to enter: by forming habits and by releasing habits.
Many people make the mistake of thinking that creatives are simply touched by the hand of God and have constant access to the creative muse, but this is nobody’s default state. Creative people have to be furiously determined and disciplined in order to create work, and that means they commit to creative habits. People interested in cultivating creativity treat their creative time like a sacred ritual and show up to commune with it like their life depends on it whether or not they actually feel like doing it or not. Artists guard their sacred creative time like wolves to protect it from predators—even from their own demons of judgment, worth, and doubt. This might mean that they show up at the same time every day to listen to the muse or practice their form. They find a way to show up and show up and show up, and practice and practice and practice.
My college roommate was an art major who created cartoon-like art and video. He was the most hardcore doodler I have even met. I remember being struck by the juxtaposition of this: how someone who was creating child-like, humorous, care-free cartoon art was so seriously (and serious about) committed to producing work. He would stay in on Friday evenings and feverishly create work all night. He was seriously one of the hardest workers I have ever met. He is now making a living in New York doing this same kind of work.
When we let go of old habits we make space for new inventions to be born. As we know, necessity is the mother of invention. We must release the old in order to create the new.
Here is how this showed up for me recently. I am doing an herbal cleanse right now and I have temporarily omitted many of my favorite foods. My morning habit was to have coffee with soymilk and an almond butter and jelly sandwich on gluten-free bread. These were all foods to avoid on this plant based cleanse. So for a few days I had shakes, and that was OK, but I was really craving eating whole food. I made this really awesome concoction that definitely beats my old breakfast routine as far as satiating and nourishing me. Here is the delicious, nutritious recipe for all of you to enjoy:
1 banana, sliced
1 cup organic blueberries
¼ cup walnuts
2 Tbsp canned coconut milk
1 tsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp ground flax seed
1 tsp chia seeds
1 tsp bee pollen (optional)
Mix together and enjoy! Man, not only is it good but it keeps me full for way longer because the walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds do an amazing job at giving you energy and curbing your appetite. This is one sexy breakfast—it looks and feels good—and that’s the way food should be.
Eliminating a so-so habit turned into discovering a much better one and it created the space for my creativity to come out and play. Before I made the recipe, I could taste the flavors in my mouth. I gave my senses a chance to play. Creating in the kitchen is no different from making any other kind of art. If you want to create a dance, start moving until your body starts doing something interesting that you would like to explore. If you want to write a poem, sit your butt down in a park—make a park-poetry date—and observe the lovers kissing in the grass and the birds dancing in the trees, and the worms slithering into the earth.
What habits can you create today to engage your creativity? What habits can you let go of so new possibilities can enter?