Creativity is challenging
The more creative you are, the harder you have to work. Having a constant stream of creativity flowing through your mind isn’t enough to make that creativity into a reality — in the physical world. In order to ground your creative ideas into the concrete, you need to be adept at managing your time, as well as your energy.
And the more creative you are, the harder it is to live a superficial life — because it’s physically painful to ignore or suppress your inner artist. In other words, when you embrace your own creativity, you have less time and energy for what doesn’t serve its development. That can put a strain on how you relate to the rest of world, when it doesn’t particularly value the importance of creativity.
Creativity is demanding
Being creative is a challenge, because as you channel your inner artist — the more responsibility you have to take for nurturing and tending to her. Of course you have to choice to leave your creative ideas alone. But if you turn your back on them, the negative psychological effects and the painful regret may haunt you for the rest of your life.
So in a way, your creativity condemns you to either:
- Acknowledge and thus cultivate its existence, which may require tremendous time and energy expenditure
- Suffer the negative consequences of suppressing a vital part of who you are
Creativity creates a problem
Of the two options, the first one is the only one that actually solves the problem of creativity. Again, the problem is the tremendous responsibility you need to take, or the discipline that is required, to ground your creativity into the physical plane. (With no mention of the difficulty that comes with translating the abstract into the concrete.)
Creativity requires focus
To remedy to this problem, you can sharpen your creative focus — or develop greater clarity which will allow you to balance your life and optimally allocate your time and energy to bring your inner art into real life.
Focus is also challenging
Focus is a skill, not some thing you can attain. You have to work for it.
The more focused you become, the more creativity you can channel into the concrete. And the more creativity that you channel — the more focused you have to be in order to keep that creativity flowing.
Even if you consider yourself to be very focused right now, six months from now you may be infinitely more creative in your passionate pursuits. And that means you will need to sharpen your focus significantly — even though you were already a very focused person to begin with.
Focus demands mindfulness
So your focus is in ever need of constant fine-tuning, because the nature of creativity is constant growth, or evolution.
A key element in any type of conscious evolution is mindfulness, or self-awareness without negative judgment.
Mindfulness requires that you not only pay attention to who you are and what you are doing in the present moment — it also requires that you accept whoever you are and whatever you are doing, without having a negative reaction to it, or needing to control or change the situation.
Mindfulness is key in sharpening your creative focus, because creativity cannot exist without mindfulness.
5 mindful ways to sharpen your creative focus:
1) Savor solitude — It is, after all, the best (and maybe even only) way you can channel your creative ideas and ground them into physical works. Just think of your favorite poet, painter, or musician. Do they create their art when immersed in the lives of other people? Or do they recluse into their own inner realm? If you want to see what’s deep within your creative potential, then don’t be afraid to be alone.
2) Mind dump your mental clutter — Part of being human is being multidimensional. At any time, you’re bound to have multiple conversations firing simultaneously on your mental front. Some of those conversations may be meaningful, some of them may be harmful — negative self-talk or dysfunctional belief systems you’ve picked up and internalized (perhaps subconsciously) over the years.
Your task is to weed out the negative and dysfunctional so that you can see through their dishonesties and release them. So every now and then, give your multidimensional self a voice by treating your mind to a stream-of-consciousness. Or even better, allow your mind to unleash one.
3) Manage your doubt — Again, unleashing your journaling will help you to listen to and see through your self-doubt. Self-doubt is the one thing that can always stop a creative process in its tracks. And guess what? It comes from you. You are the one behind any self-doubt you have, and so you are the only one who release it.
4) Say no to bad ideas, and good ideas — In order to effectively manage your time and energy, you need to understand how to set healthy boundaries around your precious limited resources. And sometimes that means saying no to perfectly good ideas, if they will take up your time or energy that is on reserve for your most important creative projects. As Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs, has said:
People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.
So you need to learn what to say no to, and why. And the only way to get better, is to practice.
5) Play — Creativity is not just about work, even though creative work is really play. As a natural part of the creative process, you will come up against some challenges in translating abstract to concrete, or even face unanswered questions about your own work.
Sometimes the best thing is not to think hard on the issue, but to stop thinking about it altogether and instead let your subconscious work through it and reveal the answers to you in a way you cannot misinterpret. To do so is to practice confidence, by having faith in yourself. The best way to do this is to take a break from the work, embrace your inner silly, and play!
If you start with these 5 points, you’ll find that even though your creativity is challenging, creates problems, is demanding, and at times burdensome — it is well worth all the hard work!
Are there any other mindful ways you sharpen your creative focus?
Share them in the comments below.