This Is Your 30-Day Creativity Challenge: Put Your Inner Artist First
DAY ONE — GET OUTSIDE.
Day One — Get outside.
A University of Kansas study found that getting away from the city and heading into nature increased creativity by over 50 percent. Psychologist Ruth Atchley stated about the study, “It’s when you have an extended period of time surrounded by that softly fascinating environment that you start seeing all kinds of positive effects in how your mind works.”
So, — surround yourself with nature. Put your phone down. Step away from your computer. Truly connect with being away from any responsibility, or thought that tethers you to anything but what you feel. Dive into your mind, and think differently. Write down what comes to you. Envision something you want to create. Or simply just connect with being alone, and in solitude. Allow your mind to rest.
Day Two — Change your computer screen, and phone screen, to blue.
According to a study done by the University of British Columbia, changing the colour of your screen from what you have now to one with a blue tinge to it, can increase your creativity. After noticing that participants produced twice as many creative ideas when working with a blue screen, Juliet Zhu, realized that it had to do with associations, and where your subconscious mind goes when it sees a specific colour.
“Through associations with the sky, the ocean and water, most people associate blue with openness, peace and tranquility,” she said. “These are benign cues that make people feel safe about being creative and exploratory.”
Day Three — Tune in.
Today, set a timer for ten minutes. Within those ten minutes, wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, connect with your surroundings and your senses. Listen, see, smell, taste and touch. If you are eating, really taste your food. If you are holding something, connect with the texture of it, the weight of it. If you are outside, what can you hear? What is the heartbeat of your city? What can you see around you — look for things you may not have noticed before, like the shade of your coworkers lipstick, or the way the sun hits a certain corner of your room. Train your mind to be perceptive. Train your mind to slow down, and to fully digest a setting. We rarely do this in our everyday lives, and connecting with our senses is a great way of fielding new ideas, because it causes us to be less distracted.
Day Four — Acknowledge your talents.
Think about the qualities you have that you are proud of. What are your unique talents, or skills? What do people compliment you on most — something non material, something that is a character trait? What are the things you truly admire about yourself? Write these things down. Then, go to a loved one and have them add to the list. Keep the list. Read it whenever you doubt yourself. Read it whenever you start to experience imposter syndrome or negative self talk. A positive self-image is important when it comes to living creatively. You have to trust that you are good enough, you have to trust that people believe in you and your abilities, because that will help for you to trust your work.
Day Five — Face your expectations.
What do you expect of your work? Write these expectations down. Look at them, and then tell yourself that you do not have to live up to the expectations society, or you yourself, has put on your art. If you create from a place of needing to fulfill specific benchmarks, you will never create from a place that is authentic. Instead, you will create the art other people want, you will create from a place of needing likes on social media, or money, and this will influence the work that comes out of you, and it will cause you to question yourself. Let all of that go. Give yourself permission to create what makes you happy.
Day Six — Travel somewhere you have never been.
Become a tourist in your own city. Take a day trip and explore a place you have never been before. Go to a coffee shop you have always overlooked. Whatever it is, just make exploration a duty of yours today. Because our neural pathways are influenced by our everyday environments, when we experience new things, and new places, our brain lights up. Engage with the new sights, sounds, and experiences an unknown adventure has to offer you. Allow for it to give you a fresh perspective, and allow for it to inspire you.
Day Seven — Meditate on a TED Talk.
This is quite simple. Choose a TED talk and fully dive into it. Create an environment to watch it that is distraction free. Light a candle. Let an expert talk you through the subject matter, let them motivate you to learn something new. There is something beautifully inspiring about feeding your mind interesting information, and connecting with material that lights a fire within you. Whenever you need to create a little spark inside of yourself — expand your mind.
Day Eight — Do something different.
Book yourself into a creative class that has nothing to do with your talent. If you’re a writer, go to a painting night. If you’re a painter, take a singing lesson. Creativity stems from newness. You may not be good at this class, but you will be using your brain in a different way, and you will be make new creative connections by doing so. Remember — you will never find new ways to be inspired if you stay stagnant in what has always been working. Shock your system and shake things up.
Day Nine — Revisit old ideas.
Go through old notebooks. Look through the notes on your iPhone. Check the drafts you have made on Twitter. Scroll through the things you have saved on Instagram, or the pieces of work you have screenshotted. As creatives, we are always jotting down ideas and wavelengths, quotes that inspire us, little thoughts we have, ideas for creative endeavors, etc. Revisit these ideas. Revist the things that caused you to feel inspired. Remind yourself of why you wrote those ideas down, or why you saved a certain photo or quote. If something inspired you, but you did not follow through with making it into something bigger than what it was, that does not mean that it wasn’t viable. Sometimes the timing is wrong. Sometimes we jot a note down and forget about it. Revisit these things. Maybe seeing them will inspire your next project.
Day Ten — Tackle that boring task you’ve been avoiding.
A study from the University of Central Lancashire suggests that a creative spark can be elicited by doing something that you perceive to be extremely boring. The study had two groups of participants. One group was asked to complete a task that was mundane, such as copying down the numbers in a phone book. The other group was asked to simply not do the task. The participants in the first group showcased higher levels of creative thinking, and researchers believe it is due to the fact that we often daydream when we are tasked with monotonous work.
So — whether it’s folding laundry, or cleaning your room, if there is something you have been putting off due to the fact that it isn’t the most fun or interesting activity, do it. Allow yourself to find a flow, and allow yourself to daydream while you’re going through the motions. You may just stumble upon an idea that will create interesting work for you once you’ve landed on it.
Day Eleven — Revisit your rejections.
This one is quite simple. Think back to all of the times you were told no. Think back to the times you were rejected when it came to your art. Think back to the times where you were not given a chance. And then, think about all of the ways you overcame those rejections. Think about all of the ways you pushed forward, think about all of the things you did in order to continue on in your journey. So many incredible artists have dealt with the same things. They had to push themselves forward in the same ways. They had to believe in themselves in order to get to where they ended up. You are no different. You are going to achieve the things you want to achieve, but you have to be gentle with yourself. The most devastating rejections were simply just growth opportunities. Open your eyes to that.
Day Twelve — Go for coffee with your most creative friend.
There are others like you out there. There are people who see the world differently, and there are people who think differently. There are people who have also chosen to live their life through their art, people who feel the need to create just as innately as you do. Remind yourself of this. Go for coffee, or lunch, or do an activity with someone who always has the capacity to inspire this understanding within you. Dream together. Riff on topics together. Just connect. It will always leave you feeling motivated and encouraged in your creativity.
Day Thirteen — Schedule a midday nap.
According to various research studies, taking a 20 minute nap in the middle of the day can actually increase activity in the area of your brain that is associated with creative thinking. When we slip into REM sleep, the networks in our brain are stimulated, and new associations can be created. This means that you won’t only wake up refreshed, but you may feel less creatively blocked when it comes to revisiting a project or an idea that you hadn’t quite figured out yet.
Day Fourteen — Write a list of all of your inspirations.
Write a list of the artists that inspire you. Write a list of the authors, the painters, the great psychologists and philosophers that motivate you and encourage you creatively. Then remind yourself that you are not them. Tell yourself that this is a good thing. Remind yourself that they all fought for their individual art, and that is what set them apart. Do not compare your art to theirs. This will only subconsciously motivate you to create art like theirs, and that is the antithesis to finding your own creative voice. Use this activity as a way of reminding yourself to always trust your creative compass. Create the uncommon work. Give yourself permission to be different. Give yourself the opportunity to really understand what you feel called to create. That is what the greats did.
Day Fifteen — Meditate on this question:
What kind of art would you be creating if you allowed yourself to fully express yourself?
Day Sixteen — Go to a museum.
Be in awe of art. Be in awe of textures, and techniques, and the way people put so much of themselves into their creative endeavors. Think about the way they lived their lives — in direct pursuit of their ideas. These artists gave themselves permission to be artists. While they doubted themselves, and while they most likely came up against a lot of obstacles, they still chose to create. They still chose to give the world beauty. Take that in. You are so lucky to have the talent you do. You are so lucky to be the kind of person who has the capacity to create the kinds of things that will live on. Find gratitude in that. Find purpose in that. Let it fuel you.
Day Seventeen — Treat yourself to a glass of wine.
According to a study conducted at the University of Illinois, researchers found that alcohol and creativity are intrinsically linked. Participants within the study that had a blood alcohol level of around .08 were able to perform a creative task to a higher degree when compared to those who remained sober for the task.
So — grab yourself a glass of wine, and set up your space to get creative. Don’t question what comes to you, simply just create in the moment and enjoy yourself.
Day Eighteen — Define what being an artist means.
What does being an artist mean to you? Write this down. Dive into this. And then remind yourself that there is no definition for what makes someone an artist. When you start to wonder if you fit that bill, or if you are worthy of the life you want to pursue, you have to stop yourself. You have to believe that you are an artist, above all else. You have what it takes to create from an honest place within yourself. That is what makes you an artist, that is your creative heartbeat Anything else is just noise.
Day Nineteen — Meditate on this question:
What inspired you to start pursuing your art in the first place?
Life gets hard for the creative so quickly because we often look for validation that is rooted in success. If things are slow, or if we feel like we should be doing better than we are, it can be easy to convince ourselves that we are not cut out of for the creative life. Don’t allow yourself to fall victim to this kind of negative self talk. Meditate on what you are passionate about. Remind yourself just how much you enjoy being an artist, and why you started in the first place.
Day Twenty — Commit to a morning workout.
Researchers at Rhode Island College found that 30 minutes of aerobic exercise has the ability to increase problem solving when it came to creative topics, and that this increase in performance lasted for up to two hours after participants exercised. So, if you’re usually the type of person who works out after you are finished your artistic tasks for the day — try to switch things up. If you workout in the morning, and take your supercharged creative performance to work with you, you may just be able to tackle a creative idea or project you’ve been struggling with.
Day Twenty-One — Break something.
This may not sound like the most conventional advice, but break rooms were created for a reason. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for yourself creatively is to let a bit of aggression out. Researchers have found that allowing yourself to focus on a specific task that also helps for you to release some of your pent up frustration, can inspire you to walk out feeling refreshed and like you have dissolved a creative block. Next time you are stewing in negative self talk, or if you can’t get your mind off of something that is upsetting you — grab a stress ball, book yourself a fun break room experience, etc. Just release that pent up tension, and remove any emotions that are negatively impacting your capacity to be an artist.
Day Twenty-Two — Confront your doubts.
Write a list outlining all of the ideas and all of the creative projects you have put off due to second guessing yourself. What are all of the doubts that surround these projects? Sometimes we truly have to connect with why we aren’t grabbing the opportunities we are given, or why we aren’t fully living up to our creative potential. Most times, these shortcomings are rooted in doubt. We question our capacity to create good art, we think that someone else could do it better, etc. When we write down our doubts, and we physically see all of the ways we have stunted our own growth, it can be a wakeup call. This is your way of reminding yourself to get out of your own way.
Day Twenty-Three — Get vulnerable.
Share an idea or a piece of work that you have been to self conscious to share with others. Open yourself up to the world. Create from a place of expression, connect with other people through your art and through what that art stands for. It is so important to put your work into the world, because you never know who will need it. On another hand, sharing our work with others allows for us to let the work be what it is. We let it go. We send it off into the world to do what it was created to do. We cannot judge it, or tamper with it anymore. We simply just have to trust it, and be proud of it.
Day Twenty-Four — Meditate on this question:
What do you want your art to inspire in the world?
Day Twenty-Five: Float.
When dealing with creativity, sometimes in order to fully unlock your artistic potential you need to walk away from thinking about your art. However, it turns out that different periods of rest have different outcomes when it comes to your brain and its creative centres. In a study on float therapy, researchers tested college students on the measures of creativity and mood, both before and after a resting activity. Group one spent an hour floating, and group two spent an hour unwinding in a dark room. The participants in group one actually scored higher on their tests, which suggests that they were performing at an increased creative level compared to the others in the study.
Day Twenty-Six — Take a doodle break.
It is well known that doodling stimulates visual thinking and creativity. Professionals in all walks of life use doodling to switch into visual thinking mode, which helps for certain parts of the brain that aren’t firing when in linguistic mode to be fully taken advantage of. Allowing yourself to doodle for a few minutes every day helps for you to think outside the box, and make unexpected connections between ideas. This can help to fuel your next big project, or even assist you when it comes to breaking down your creative blocks.
Day Twenty-Seven — Set a BHAG.
A BHAG is a Big Hairy Audacious Goal.This kind of goal is intended to be quite difficult but not completely impossible to achieve, and it should require ten or more years of commitment. While it may be hard to come up with a goal like this when you are presently trying to navigate and figure yourself out, the act of envisioning what you want your future to look like actually kicks your creative motivation into high gear. What is the biggest, most incredible, most fear inducing goal that you want to achieve? These goals are meant to be so exciting that the vision of actually making them a reality will light a fire within you and transform your approach to your life. Speak your hopes into existence. Hold yourself accountable to them. Work for them as hard as you possibly can. Let them inspire you.
Day Twenty-Eight — Create a routine for yourself.
While a lot of people argue that creative routines aren’t necessary, if you are consistently only ever motivated to work while doing certain things, or at certain times, it is in your best interest to focus on those factors. For example, if you write your best in the morning, don’t try to force yourself to write at night. Carve time out in the morning, make it a priority, and set yourself up for success. Today, write down a list of things that consistently produce results for you when it comes to your projects and your ideas. See if you can fit them into a daily routine, and if you can, make a commitment to that routine. Give your inspiration the absolute best environment to find you.
Day Twenty-Nine — Switch up your social media.
Social media is an extremely powerful tool for the creative, but it often becomes a negative power rather than an encouraging one. Most people don’t take the time to truly ask themselves if the people they are following, or the accounts they interact with every single day, are making them feel good or bad. Take some time today to go through Instagram. Scroll down your newsfeed. Do you feel inspired? Or do you feel depleted? What account is causing you to feel self conscious, or negative? It is okay to be affected in these ways. You are only human, but you do have control over what you consume. So choose to keep following the accounts that inspire you creatively, the ones that show you new techniques, the ones that move you, the ones that make you smile and make you think. Give yourself permission to unfollow all other accounts. Protect your artistic space.
Day Thirty — Reminisce.
Write a list of lessons you learned over the last thirty days, and hang it in your workspace. Remind yourself that you are always growing as an artist. Remind yourself that you are dedicated to being an artist. Remind yourself that you have the capacity to motivate and inspire yourself through the things you listen to, the rest you take, the places you visit, the subjects you meditate on, the exercise you do, and so on. You are in control of your art, and how you dedicate yourself to that art. So believe that you have the capacity to continue to do all of the things you did over the last thirty days, consistently and ruthlessly in pursuit of more and more creative awakenings.