Creativity as a Way of Life
Creativity coach Elena Greco provides top tips for the creative life.
Posted March 2, 2021 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan
Can you write a novel, paint a painting, or invent a new tech solution if you aren’t open to creative ideas at those times when you aren’t sitting down to write that novel, paint that painting, or invent that solution?
Is creativity something that you turn on and off like a spigot? Or is it an orientation toward life? Are you likely to be blessed with creative ideas if you aren’t open to those ideas all the time? Here’s how professional singer and creativity coach Elena Greco explains the difference between “the creative act” and “living a creative life.”
Do you want to be more creative? Have you been wanting forever to write a book, or long to paint, or would love to get back to playing an instrument, but can't see how to make the time to fit it in with your challenging career? Or have you taken a survival job to support you as a creative artist, but now can’t seem to find the time to be creative?
The great news is this: You don’t have to find time in order to be creative. Because being creative has nothing to do with time. You don’t do creativity; you live creativity!
Creativity truly is a way of life, not an activity or a collection of traits. It’s not something to be relegated to certain days or times, comprising only a small portion of our waking hours. It’s about approaching everything in life creatively.
Leonardo da Vinci’s pithy quote says it all: “Never be without your little pad.” He was speaking to his art students, encouraging them to remain artists even while outside the studio, being prepared to capture the sketch of a moment that struck them in their travels through life or to record an idea that occurred to them while walking. He knew that creativity was a way of life, not a time-limited activity.
I am never not creative. I never “turn off” the flow. And as Leonardo admonished, I’m never unprepared for creative ideas which arise. When an idea occurs to me, I use a simple dictation app to record it. I open it, hit the mic button, and speak into my phone, and it transcribes my speech into text for me and automatically saves. I use my phone’s camera app to shoot spontaneous photos and videos. Being creative is easier nowadays!
Being creative means allowing your creativity to always be “on,” rather than relegating it to certain times or days. I am the same creative walking down the street as I am when I’m singing. I’m the same creative taking my morning shower as I am when I’m writing a blog post on my laptop.
In fact, some of my best ideas come to me when I’m in the shower! I leave my phone just outside the shower so that the minute I dry off I can record at the press of a button the ideas that arose in the steam. And creative ideas never fail to flow, prompted by fresh air and beautiful vistas, when I’m walking the trails of Central Park or sitting on a bench there. I always have my phone with me there to take notes and pictures. Never waste an idea!
When I lie down to go to sleep, I envision my next day and ask myself a question related to one of my creative projects, encouraging my mind to present me with a creative solution when I awake. Creativity happens even when you’re asleep! I have a notepad next to me when I sleep so that I don’t lose an idea that presents itself to me when I’m still half asleep.
Being creative means that you look at things with a creative eye, not just when you’re in the art studio painting, or on stage performing, or at your desk writing, or at your job thinking of solutions to a problem, but at every moment of your life.
Once you “turn on” creativity and choose it as your default setting, you’ll begin to notice when your creative ideas flow best. Is it in the shower, in nature, while driving, watching television, performing a certain job function, sitting in meetings, or on your favorite walking trail? Then make sure that you always have simple and easy-to-use tools at hand that accommodate your unique style at those times to capture ideas when they arise. Never miss an opportunity to be creative!
We can choose to live our lives as creative beings. Living life creatively relieves the pressure of having to “turn on” creativity only at the moment you start a rehearsal or begin your writing session. The stream is already flowing! Let it always be flowing.
Elena Greco is a professional singer, writer, and coach.