How to Fill Your Creativity Well with Francesca Hepton

Author and wellness mentor Francesca Hepton is a champion for children’s health, well-being and a catalyst for personal growth. Her services include books, journals, and courses predominantly in the field of health, well-being, stress reduction, and life-style choices, as well as workshops with associated course material in the form of manuals, storybooks, training manuals, videos, audios, and mentoring services.

Her Kiki series of children’s books can be found here: www.kikiandfriends.co.uk.

Creativity on Tap

A young man in his late teens recently asked me the key to accessing creativity. He had just started an apprenticeship in the PR sector and was fast noticing the demands of the job involved more than just technical know-how, i.e. knowing how to write and how to create videos and blogs. He had to engage readers—but how?! Trying to be creative blocked his flow.

Tapping into the Creative Well

He had to tap into his creativity in order to write and create anything that people would watch or read and not just pointlessly take up space on the internet. How could he draw his audience in whilst still fulfilling all the technical demands of his job? These are questions we ask ourselves as writers—not just when writing our books, but also when trying to sell them.

Now I know he, just like you, didn’t expect me to deliver the solution in the form of an easy-to-swallow sugar-coated creativity pill to be taken once daily with a healthy helping of visits to art galleries. Nor did he expect me to proffer him some kind of secret inauguration to a divine gateway accessible only to veterans within the industry, or even a leg-up so he could hop up onto the top rungs of the ladder simply because of who he knew and what he knew. Nonetheless, he was expecting some kind of a formula. How to break it down in a nutshell? Hmmm. I could be cruel reveal the whole truth in its entirety.

The Creativity Cocktail

A cross-pollination of
    • experiences
    • time
    • talent
    • practice
    • open-mindedness
    • learning
    • rest
    • diversification
    • interdisciplinary visions
    • patience
    • perseverance
    • watching
    • exercising the body
    • know your subject
    • time in nature
… mixed with a dash of
    • seeing not looking
    • finding not searching
    • yielding not pushing
    • inaction instead of action
    • following your natural cycle
All this and more have given me my ability to create. It’s not something you can switch on and off at the tap.

Are Some People Born Creative?

It is said people are born with creative talent. Perhaps you can be born with a greater propensity for the creative than the logical. This is a debate for another article; I believe all skills can be learned with time.

Talent is the product of desire.

If you have the desire to make something, you will use whatever tools you have available to you and learn any tools necessary in order to achieve your goal.

Before deciding to illustrate my books in 2015, the last time I had drawn anything seriously was back at school in 1985. I had 30 years of latent talent to re-inflate. I could of course go through the arduous task of finding the right illustrator, waiting for them to have time to do my books and then find the funds to pay them. I preferred the option of doing it myself and gaining that freedom. How hard could it be!?

With that choice came the necessity to practice and be patient. Three decades is a long time to recoup. Knowing that a child is not as harsh a critic as an adult, I was not reticent about proceeding after my initial mediocre attempts. That is a big help. If you can go ahead without fearing the critics, you stand a good chance of creating whatever it is you set out to create, be it written, drawn or painted, and so on.

“Fear will stop creativity in its tracks before it has had time to sprout.”

Perhaps we could just look at some useful steps to enticing more creativity.

If you would like to encourage your creative flow or at least give it a rich foundation for creative pursuits, then I would recommend the following.

1. A hard life is a vibrant life. Don’t always seek the easy route, this encourages inertia. Grab and face challenges, i.e. new situations that give you the opportunity to see things differently, to learn push you out of your comfort zone, but with a realistic probability you will succeed. Challenges you’re certain to fail only lead to procrastination and depression as your ego smugly sneers: “I told you you’d fail!’

 2. I would ask that you expand your horizons. If you are financially able, experience different countries and cultures. Immerse yourself in places you do not know. This helps to take you outside of yourself. Even if you don’t have the means to go away, you can expand your mind and horizons through local places, watch documentaries, try making stuff, listen to audio books or stories from old relatives. Stimulus is a must for fuelling creativity.

3. Give yourself the means, time and space to express your creativity: paints, pencils, papers, new software, apps.  Time set aside to practice. You’d be surprised what you can master if you just give your mind the chance to wrap itself around the workings.

4. Learn something new. Playing an instrument, learning a sport or martial arts, gymnastics, climbing, swimming. At least at the end of it you will have learned a skill that is likely to help you to destress and release tension—an absolute must for creatives.

In the end, we want there to be more rather than less information, knowledge and experience for you to draw on when you create. It is the interplay of all the disciplines and skills and knowledge you have learned that produce the final product. If you only have standard school knowledge or not a lot of experience, you won’t be able to produce much of any interest. I must reiterate again, it is not about money: reading and thinking or rather reflection on things you have heard and seen, plus actually trying them out make the knowledge and experience your own and not just borrowed from the teacher or whoever shared it with you. All this fills your well of creativity.

In brief, to all the Hemmingways and Picassos of the present and future, I say this: If you want to create an engaging and unique narrative, you must integrate the highlights of your own experiences with parts of the culture and world you are surrounded by, shifting your frame of knowledge and going outside of your comfort zone will help you.

How to Communicate Your Message.

The next big step is to communicate your message or art in a way that will reach the audience it is going to be of interest to. Choose the platform in which you can ground all this unique knowledge and best convey its message—be it visual or written, tactile or audio, or even a mixture of all these. Modern technology opens up a whole world of choices to you.

To become a creator, you must first be an observer.

To create an articulated representation of all the learning and customs and cultures you have experienced, you need to mimic them, immerse yourself in them. Filter all these doctrines, disciplines and ways of doing through your own personal creative filter, i.e. your imagination and hey presto, you have an individual piece of work or art.

Wu wei: The Art of Doing Through Non-doing.

Many creatives have what is often referred to as their muse. This can be a person, thing or divine intervention. Whatever your muse may be, if you are lazing around in bed or passively soaking up movies and gaming, you will not be in a position to see her visit you. You need to be ready for this visit, which usually comes in the form of a vision, a flash of insight that shows us the end product before we’ve even started creating.

We could go really deep and say that these notions, visions or insights come from the collective conscience. As Carl Jung said: We don’t own ideas, ideas own us. We are just vessels. Everything in our head is made up of blueprints handed down from generation to generation and topped up with our own personal learnings and experiences: our own individual filter. The imagination. But stuff that dreams are made of are not controlled by us. Just like we do not control these visions or insights, they come from within us somewhere—the muse comes to visit, to inspire us. That is where the delicious interaction between action and inaction, seeing and searching come into play.

By letting go of the control over a project, i.e. in simple terms taking a break from it, your mind will rest and other things will come into it.

“Can’t see the wood for the trees, after a rest, the trees part and the sun’s rays shine through.”

Don't Delay, Fill Your Well.

Whether you’re writing your book or a press release, it may be technically perfect, you may have mastered WordPress, researched the keywords, targeted your audience down to the colour of their trousers and their preferred pizza topping, but if you’re trying too hard to make the content sound quirky, fun and different, try less. Take a step back open your mind and heart. Listen to what your lifetime of learning percolating inside of you is saying as your thoughts filter through your personal imagination. Then allow it to flow out. Fill your mug. Fill your well.

Final Words

Most of us, as writers, have experienced some form of creative roadblock in our lives. The good news is that there are ways  to avoid or return this barren land. Sometimes we just have to get out of our own way (stop trying so hard!), sometimes we need to knuckle-down and practice needed skills, and sometimes a change of venue  or new experience is the answer. Whatever it is, when you’ve done it you’ll know as you feel your creativity well fill up again. 

What is your experience with a dry creativity well? What is your favourite method of avoiding the blocks or re-motivating yourself after a dry spell? Why not share your thoughts on our FaceBook page, the Utility Fog Forum.

How to Fill Your Creativity Well with Francesca Hepton
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