How to Fight the Monotony of the Daily Grind
If you're anything like me, you have days where the sun doesn't shine, the coffee doesn't kick in, and you feel like time is dragging you down. As a mom who works from home, I also am constantly juggling and wearing many hats. This everyday hustle and bustle can become a messy struggle, a strange monotony of moving through being over-busy and uncreative.
10 Tips and Tricks Creative People Know & Live By
1. Get messy.
There is nothing more stifling and boring than having a pristine home with spaces that do not invite splashing paint or globs of glue. Artists-at-heart make sure to have a space (or many!) that invite creativity. In our home, we have a small studio space for dancing, a library of rich books and a writing desk, and a lovely backyard that allows for movement and play. My teenage sons have a keyboard and drums in their respective rooms, and my youngest has a small paint studio in a corner of the garage.
Make sure you allow yourself some room to breathe, sweat, scribble, and have fun creating. If your living space encourages it, you will be more likely to get messy!
2. Try something new.
Most people are afraid of trying new things because they fear failure. But art is meant to be messy (see above), and some of our greatest discoveries as artists come from the moment of "oops!" when we're attempting to do something new. This idea isn't restricted to art on a day-to-day basis -- you could read aloud to your kiddos before bed, or set up a little coloring station with some fun coloring books, sketch pads, and beautiful markers and pencils. Find some tie dye supplies and create some brilliant pillowcases for everyone. Did you know iPhones are shower proof? Take yours into the shower and sing through your favorite playlist! Press some flowers, write a new melody, dance under the full moon... just try something new every day!
3. Wiggle until you dance. Scribble until you draw.
Creating is a labor of love some days. Artists know that no matter how much we don't feel like it, writing until we stumble upon brilliance is key. Dancers know that practice, practice, practice is the only way to find the end goal. Some days, we feel like sludge, and we have to exercise serious self-discipline to get ourselves back in a positive frame-of-mind. For me, if I don't feel like dancing, I'll put on some music and either work on something else or just relax and listen. Usually, a song will come on that makes me want to move. If all I can do in that moment is wiggle my toes or sway back and forth, I am still moving and feeling the universe move around me.
4. Enjoy nature.
We are so busy, rushing from one task to another, keeping ourselves from being idle. But stopping long enough to enjoy the sound of birds, the smell of rain, the feel of grass between our toes... that connection with nature allows us to quiet the incessant chatter in our brains, to make space for our own inner wisdom, and to find our own center of calm.
5. Brainstorm & allow yourself to dream big.
Creatives are the very best when it comes to dreaming. Sometimes, in the everyday grind of life, we forget that dreaming is what propels us forward! When we allow ourselves to be put into boxes by society or work or people in our lives, our propensity to dream diminishes and we become stagnant.
Dreaming doesn't have to be extreme (though it certainly can be)! Start with small ideas. A dream for this week. A goal for this month. How would you like your life to look? Let yourself dream little dreams, and slowly graduate up to how you want to change your world! You are a unique individual with completely unique ideas and value to offer society. If you don't allow yourself to reach for those dreams, you're not only robbing yourself of joy, but you're keeping your brilliance from the rest of the world!
6. Fill your creative "tank."
Have you ever felt like you haven't eaten for three days and could devour an entire Thanksgiving meal on your own? (I don't suggest this, by the way.) Besides being physically hungry, we can be hungry in many different ways. Our minds, our hearts, our spirits... all need to be fed. For artists, it is extra important to feed ourselves creatively on a consistent basis. Some creative types will get together to collaborate and gain energy from other people. Many of us will go to shows, concerts, and gallery events featuring inspiring art. We are even getting creative about streaming live performances that have previously been impossible for some folks to access. There is a wealth of content out there, and exposing yourself to great art will fill your tank and generate internal energy for YOU to create!
7. Revisit your old work for new inspiration.
I am a terrible self critic when it comes to my dance work, but there is so much value in revisiting my journey. When I watch old videos, I remember relationships with old students and the joy of discovering new art with them. I'm reminded that I am also still on a journey as an artist, a teacher, a choreographer and a human. Watching the changes in my style and musical choices when working with others versus working as a soloist, I am inspired to keep digging and reaching for the next discovery.
How can you do this in your life? If you aren't a working artist, what is the journey you are on? How are you growing and developing? If you can, revisit those "old days" and see what new creativity springs from them!
8. Notice the beauty.
"Beauty will save the world." - Dostoevsky
This is one of my life quotes, and the truth of it is profound. The most beautiful things surround us every single day, yet we rarely take time to slow down and notice them. I already mentioned nature, but there is far more than simply the natural world that an artist sees.
Take a second to ponder the beauty of a selfless volunteer at a soup kitchen. Dwell for a passing moment on the way our children create friendships. Think for a minute about the sadness of those who have lost a loved one. Whether the moments are happy or sad, there is still deep beauty and truth in them. It is what makes our lives so rich and incredibly meaningful. It is communicating this truth that is a creative's life work. You can see it too, if you stop and look.
9. Take time for quiet.
Nothing drains creativity like the hustle and bustle of everyday tasks and chores. Creatives know that taking a little "me" time, can be the key to staying resilient. Whether it be meditation, prayer, journaling, or drinking a quiet cup of coffee in the morning, those moments help us recharge. Those of you working from home with small children can attest to the constant drone of questions and small "emergencies." Those of you on conference calls all day know the struggle to stay engaged and alert. And even those of you who know the pain of unemployment are struggling with the day-to-day doldrums.
So grab a book, take a breath, do a little yoga. Have a glass of wine when the kids go to bed. Just be good to yourself.
10. Be outrageous.
Why in the world would you want to be a boring human? No one really wants to be, but we are afraid of others and their opinions of us. Well, I have a secret for you: their opinions don't matter.
What does it mean to be outrageous? It's different for everyone, but for creatives it might mean dressing with some recognizable flair or getting a striking tattoo. It might mean trying something new or making a decision that you were too afraid to make. For me, it means not being afraid to talk about the hard topics and believing that I am important, with valuable ideas to share. How can YOU live outrageously today?
"Let Me Sum Up"
I hope these ideas inspire and give you new thoughts for combating the boredom and monotony of your daily routines and stress. And... I hope you will share them with us! Please tell me how you are getting messy, trying new things, exploring beauty, getting inspired, and dreaming big! Your photos, questions, and creativity are most welcome and highly encouraged.
Sarah E. Flynn is a coach, mentor, and teacher helping people discover themselves through art and creative expression, building a foundation of self-worth and confidence. Like this post? Sign up here to be first to receive my fresh content in your inbox!