Is Your Creativity Constrained?

Andrea Chilcoteby Andrea Chilcote

Have you ever uttered the phrase “I’m not creative?”  I know many women who have, and I may have found a possible solution.

On the eve of The Spirited Woman’s 2014 Sharefest theme, “I Am Creative Bliss,” I ran across an article extolling the many virtues of caffeine, as well as one big downside – it seems there’s scientific evidence that it cramps creativity. Caffeine apparently stifles the thing on which creativity depends: a wandering, unfocused mind.

While I don’t generally overdo caffeine, this “four cities in four days” week is putting me to the test. My usual two cups of coffee in the morning have expanded to an afternoon pick-me-up, and then some.

This is a week for focus and clarity, so it’s reassuring to know that caffeine is a support, not a hindrance. But here’s the interesting thing. This week, and in similar busy times, I long for a creative respite. While I’m doing the work I love, today I was looking forward to finishing my “real” work to write this post, even though I had no idea what I would write about. And now I believe that was the very thing I longed for – the opportunity to let my mind meander among the possibilities.

In his article, How to be Creative, Jonas Lehrer says creativity is not magic bestowed on us by angels, but rather a skill all can learn. He outlines many methods, including play, “with the abandon of a child.”

Those of you who know how much I enjoy hiking with my dogs, present to the sights and sounds of the outdoors, can appreciate that these walks provide me the opportunity to think and feel in an unstructured and playful way.

For me, a glass of wine helps too, though not while hiking of course. Lehrer also suggests that caffeine has a counter effect on creativity, preferring a beer to a Red Bull. His advice reminded me of an adage a writer friend shared some years ago, “Write drunk but edit sober.”

Humor aside, the insight I received from these articles is not about avoiding caffeine or consuming alcohol, but rather about the requirement for creativity – unstructured time.

I know you’re busy. You have significant responsibilities and people depend upon you. But can you give your mind a respite, even for a bit? There can be a beautiful payoff.

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The following post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a blogger. Enjoy it!

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