Well, creatives, we’ve just trotted past Thanksgiving and we’re galloping head-on into the holiday season. While December is full of good cheer and clinking glasses, traditionally it can be nearly impossible get into creative flow.
There’s a saying that “boredom breeds creativity.” Studies seem to confirm this idea. During one study, Lazar writes, “[Researchers] asked a group of subjects to do something boring, like copying out numbers from a phone book, and then take tests of creative thinking, such as devising uses for a pair of cups. The results? Bored subjects came up with more ideas than a non-bored control group, and their ideas were often more creative.” (Wired, 2017)
But with so many ugly sweater parties and cookie exchanges, it’s difficult to feel anything remotely close to calm, let alone straight-up bored. As a professional creative, that’s held true for me year after year, no matter how many deadlines I need to hit by the time the ball drops. I find myself scrambling to produce when I’m already drained from a headache-inducing Santa visit, or snapping at my family to give me space so I can get some work done.
This year, I’m doing it differently.
Instead of struggling to make it to my desk everyday or shutting out Christmas carols with noise-canceling headphones, I’m going roll with the holiday chaos to amp up my creativity instead of snuffing it out until January.
Here are three tips to keep the flow going through the business month of the year:
- Bring your people in on it. When your house is loud and overcrowded, you can forget about carving out your own space to type away at your keyboard. Instead of constantly fighting upstream, why not just go with the flow? Your creativity doesn’t have to be expressed in the same way. While we tend to be creatures of habits, the truth is, we can get in our own way when we don’t allow ourselves to accept the reality we’re working with now instead of pushing relentlessly for the one we think we should have. So, if you can’t find a quiet space to work, let your people come with you. Tap out a few key story notes on your phone while your little cousin sits on your lap, use your voice recorder to hum a few notes of the song you’re working on before your uncle comes over for brunch, and share your artwork with the people you love most. If you can’t beat ‘em, let ‘em join you.
- Get your hands dirty. Look, the end of the year isn’t exactly the most cerebral time. December isn’t made for long nights at the desk or solitary winter hikes to help get your thoughts in order. It’s a physical time, where you’re going to be on the move and your attention span is short. Again, instead of fighting against it, go with it. Express yourself with your hands and body instead of with your thoughts and words. Dance to holiday jams by candlelight, make snow sculptures, go to a pottery-making class with friends. If you aren’t used to this kind of expression, it can feel awkward at first, but keep going. You’ll be glad you kept up your creative muscles when you sit down at your desk again in January.
- Find your own rhythm and go with it. At the end of the day, knowing how you operate as a creative and owning it is always the best way to get through chaos. Take this What Color Is Your Creativity? Quiz to help you identify your creative strengths and how to leverage them to make the art you were meant to make.