5 Ways Moving Away from Home Sparked my Creativity

Photo by Monica Henriquez

Google defines creativity as, “the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.” but it’s so much more than that. Creativity is about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone in all aspects of life. It’s about changing traditional ideas, rules, and perceptions. Something I like so much about creativity is that there are no real answers. You can be anything or make anything that you want at that moment. It’s like being able to change who you are all of the time and for me changing my views, my ideas, and my feelings have really helped me understand my true self over the years.

So while being creative is sometimes about the production of artistic work that is used as evidence to point out when someone is creative, it’s more about your mindset and discovering that there is always a way to achieve the things you want. What makes the art of creating so beautiful is that it is different for every person and those amazing differences have the ability to inspire everyone around you.

We all have those days when we are taking photos, modeling, or writing and we just can’t make what is in our heads come out the way we pictured it. This can get super frustrating and if you’re anything like me you stop creating for a while believing you are stuck and need a break. I’m here to tell you not to do this. When we hit a “creative block” or whatever we want to call it, all it means is that we are stuck on one specific idea or component of our artistic process.

Being creative means having a vision, and focus, but not necessarily a set destination. It’s having a very particular goal that can make us feel stuck and lost. So keep creating, have guidelines and a plan but don’t let it sway you in one specific direction, go where it takes you and if it doesn’t end up working don’t despair. I had a creative writing professor in college who always told us that we should never get hung up on one word or phrase. A lot of the time I would form stories in my head and I would think of a description that I  was convinced was brilliant. Then I would get home sit down to write and forget exactly how I worded the metaphor and my whole piece would go out the window. By doing this I was closing my mind off to new ideas and phrases that would eventually come to me if I let them.

My advice is to stay loose, never be set in your ways, and always remember that ideas will come no matter what. All you have to do is decide to run with them.

Recently, I bought a one-way ticket to California. Let me be honest I was terrified and I sometimes still am. Who knows if I will stay out here or not, but just doing something so impulsive, so out of my normal habits has helped me think differently and feel more creative. Here’s why.

1. I am away from any and everything that is familiar to me

Believe it or not, this is a big help. I don’t feel as distracted as I did in my hometown. I am able to go for a walk and have no idea where I will end up. Every day I get to see something different that is brand new to me. It has helped me see a different style of living, experience new people, places, and scenery that has my mind constantly thinking up new ideas. My favorite thing to do lately is going on a run to a different park each day, sit on a bench for 15 minutes and think of a story or scene in my head. Then I play what I imagined over and over again while I run home, changing things here and there. Once home I write the final version down. This allows me to alter things in my head before I put anything down on paper, it makes the story or idea feel more permeable, I can change it as many times as I want and it’s okay.

2. It’s made me try things I’ve never done before

I think while living in the same town I grew up in I was so fearful of what everyone thought of me. This caused me to avoid trying new things. I had this closed mindset that all the people in my life knew me to be a particular way and a specific person. Once I moved I was free of all that. I mean I guess I could have been free from all of that a long time ago, but being gone from my small town made it a hell of a lot easier. I began to go out and do something completely new each day and I didn’t care what anyone thought because no one knew me. I met a guy and he got me to try hot yoga. Something I have thought about doing but never went through with before coming to California. I was nervous to try it but fell in love. It pushed my body and mind in new ways and allowed me to face everything I had been feeling and let a lot of it go. Doing this cleared my head to make room for greater ideas.

3. I met new people

I began working at a coffee shop and it allowed me to meet so many new and interesting people in a very short amount of time. We would strike up conversations and I would learn all about their lives. I was exposed to new experiences through them and these strangers gave me so many ideas for new stories, or photos, or adventures. It has been a such a gift.

4. Moving made me face my fears

Like a lot of people, I am afraid. I am afraid to be wrong, I am afraid to make mistakes, and I am afraid to fail. Somewhere along the way of growing up, I lost my self-confidence I became worried about being rejected and laughed at by my peers. This kind of fear stunts creativity. It causes dreams to be unfulfilled because we don’t have the courage to go after them. Being creative hinges on the uncertain. Fear of anything is counterproductive, it keeps us from expressing our ideas, and thinking deeply or clearly. So what do we do, we avoid our creativity when we are afraid and this leaves us feeling frustrated and unhappy. When I left home I had to accept the uncertainty of my life. I had to be willing to put myself out there and fail. I still have days where I feel anxious, but I know that it’s not the end of the world if things don’t work out the way I planned them to because the options of what to do next are endless as long as you don’t let the fear consume you.

5. Moving made me more aware of what I wanted

Away from things that bring me comfort, or even stress I can finally focus on what I want creatively. I don’t have any obligations tying me down yet and it’s perfect to give my mind time to wander, form new ideas, plans, and goals. For the first time, I can behave selfishly and not have to worry about disappointing anyone but myself. It is very invigorating.

On the flip side I want to tell you three things that have been said to help creative blocks but really do not.

1. Drinking a few beers or a glasses of wine is not the answer.

It’s true that drinking helps relax your mind, but it won’t stimulate you in the most productive way. This may not be true for everyone. However, I find that drinking makes me not want to do any work at all. So instead of turning to alcohol when I feel uninspired, I use it to celebrate when an idea comes together.

2. Taking a break, or walking away for a bit.

I’m not saying that you should stop and breath when you are creating, but walking away for an hour or even a few days has never really made me feel any better coming back. On the contrary, I will be more anxious and feel even more behind because I took time away from an idea I should have continued to think about. So while it’s fine to end a project a bit early to take a shower or go for a walk you still want to be thinking about that project while doing those things so that you don’t lose any momentum.

3. No matter what you should not quit or give up.

That is not the answer. Even when it feels impossible challenge yourself to think differently or even more creatively. Creativity means that there is always a way you just have to find it. To do that you must let go of the concrete and embrace constant change

If there are any of you out there having a hard time deciding to take that leap I want to tell you that you can totally do it. It will be terrifying, but I promise it will also reward you in ways you could not have imagined. The best part is finally being able to let go of expectations, live in the moment, and create with no pressure surrounding you.

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