The 7 Pillars of Creativity
I think you’re catching my drift right now - helping you create more creations is bringing me great joy. I’ve been consciously and deliberately creating for the better part of a decade - in the confines of my home for 7, and on a public scale for 3 - and throughout that process, I’ve become obsessed with the creation formula. You know, what actually helps us create meaningful and fulfilling projects? I mean, obviously there is no approach to creativity that is linear and the same for everyone, however, there are commonalities of creativity that I’ve noticed in myself and others that I observe, that I’d like to decode for you.
Consider this the very first introduction to creativity and how your projects make themselves known to you, and how you can create a personal environment which is conducive to creative transmissions. Here’s my observed and experienced creativity formula:
To me, fear (not the kind that is survival-based) is just the shadow side of creativity. Fear turns up at every single encounter we have with creativity. Fear is destined to keep us safe, so when we embark on a new experience with creativity, fear freaks out - after all, it is a brand new experience that we’re having (because every creation is) and fear isn’t sure how to respond. Cue: fear’s default response - panic.
Our job as creators is to understand that fear is our body’s in-built messenger system letting us know that we have an original and exciting idea or experience brewing, and that if we turn to face the fear and unpack it little by little, we’ll uncover treasures and golds specific to us.
Liz Gilbert says is beautifully in this letter she penned to fear, on behalf of her and creativity:
“ Dear Fear,
Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job seriously. Apparently your job is to induce complete panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting - and may I say, you are superb at your job. So by all means, keep doing your job, if you feel you must. But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused. And creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring. There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this; creativity and I are the only ones making any decisions along the way. Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio”.
I know this might seem like a weird one, but this is something that I’ve observed in all the greatest creators in my life. That is, they have a physical connection to their creativity. As creators, our job is to attune so deeply and sensitively to our physical and energetic bodies that we can notice when our creations are communicating with us. A little too esoteric for ya? Ok, hear me out. Maybe you need a more concrete example? I have come to know that I have a physical response when personally aligned ideas come into my field. My heart takes on a deep thud that I can hear inside my head, and my stomach has one very quick but noticeable surge of butterflies. For you, it might be a fast heart beat, a rise in body temperature, excitement, daydreaming, silence, complete stillness, a need to move and have your body take new shapes. If you know if yet or not, your creations are communicating with you before they’ve even come into your conscious awareness.
How does creativity make itself known in your body?
I’m talking about fundamental creativity here (not situational creativity) - you can read about it in my Genesis eBook for more context. Which is to say, if you are problem solving and actively sitting down to brainstorm possible solutions, this same physical sensation may not appear in the same way as it would with fundamental creativity - a sudden burst of inspiration, ideas or an ‘ah-ha’ moment.
3. SILENCE, BREATH & PRATYAHARA
Creativity exists in space. That is, space in our minds, lives, subconscious, calendars, emotional availability, etc. It needs space to reveal itself in the first place, and it needs space to thrive once revealed. You can create a “space practice” in any way that you like. For me, there are 3 elements of my own personal space practice that I wanted to share with you:
SILENCE. Real or metaphorical noise-cancelling headphones are your BFF here. I put myself in a space where I KNOW I can be left alone and uninterrupted for a set period of time. This usually looks like 20 minutes to myself when the kids are in bed for the night, and Rory has gone to the gym. I know for sure that there will be no interruptions so I can immerse myself in complete silence - and I let my thoughts and imaginations run wild. I don’t stop them, or curate them - I just let them go.
BREATH. I love alternate-nostril breathing (google it if you’re not sure) or just simple breathing with awareness. I imagine my inhale travelling down to my sacrum and my exhales gather all of the fragments of my day and expel them with my breath. This is an example of presence. Presence allows the subconscious a rest, which allows for more subconscious processing and creation (hello ideas!).
PRATYAHARA. This is sanskrit for “withdrawal of the sense”. I try to remove as many external stimulants as possible - sound, sight, smell, etc., and then I sit.
I usually do all of these 3 things together - remove all controllable external stimulus, aware breathing, followed by sitting in silence.
Sometimes I do this for 20 minutes a day. Sometimes its 5 minutes. Do what you can.
This one was obvious, right? Creations are things that are brought into existence from within us, and as such, it needs to be completely original. Right? Right.
The first port of call when it comes to originality is removing the parts of us that are not actually ours to hold. That is, deconstructing our belief systems and letting go of the beliefs that we have accumulated instead of chosen. When we deconstruct the beliefs we hold that are not ours to do so with, we are then left with something pretty spectacular; ourselves.
To preface the next part, I just want to say that this is the work required to access our infinite well of creativity - it’s necessary. It also doesn’t have to be as big and grandiose as it sounds. You can create without doing this. You can make absolute and total fucking magic without doing this.
But my question will always be; and can you imagine what you’d create if you did do this work?
Here’s a starting point:
Journal every single belief (good, bad or otherwise) that you have within you (even if you know it’s not yours) with zero judgement and shame on the following topics:
money, love, sex, creativity, women, equality, worth, beauty, power.
You can read some of my belief systems that I’m currently deconditioning over here. (this is also my most popular blog post - enjoy!).
5. PLAY, PRESENCE & DISTRACTION
As I said earlier, the subconscious needs space to do it’s (epic) thing. And so, you need to give it space by immersing yourself in other things.
If you’ve ever needed a permission slip to take the arvo off, here it is.
I hereby give you permission to:
Take the afternoon off.
Put the laptop away.
Put the music on.
Sway your hips.
Get dressed up, just because.
Go to the beach.
Eat a yummy lunch.
Read a book.
Take a nap.
Drop the kids at grandma’s house and drive the coast with coffee and a girlfriend.
What makes you feel alive and thriving?
HINT: it helps your creativity feel the same.
6. SELF AWARENESS.
As I said in the Originality section, your own deconditioning is essential to your creativity. And as such, so is your self awareness. There are way too many people wishing and hoping and dreaming whilst repeating old patterns and changing nothing energetically. If you can only pull to you what it is that you are radiating, why then, is our energetic body the last thing we tend to?
I wish someone had told me that when things get hard, that I needed to sit down. Close my eyes. Breathe.
I wish I had known that the steps I needed to take when life was not moving as I wished it to, were inward.
I wish someone had told me that the relationship I most needed to curate in my life, was the one with myself.
I wish I had known that to experience joy in this lifetime, is to meet myself fully.
I hope, more than anything, that you know that too.
Hiro Boga says “discipline does not outlast devotion”. You cannot push and push and push forever. There comes a time when your art needs to be born out of your devotion to the craft, not for the external validation, power, abundance and recognition you hope to receive as a result. (HINT: when you surrender to this notion, those things will come anyway).
Devotion is the only thing that will have us showing up for our creations again and again and again.
And so, when you have ideas and plans and projects brewing in your head, qualify their legitimacy with these questions:
Do I want to create this to receive external validation or recognition?
Do I want to create this purely as a money-making exercise?
Do I want to create this to gain superiority, power, status or to position myself in any way?
Qualify if your ideas are coming from fear, lack or scarcity. Is it your ego saying, “make this, receive that” or is it your creativity popping in to say, “the world, and the people in it, need this from you”. It is when we create from the latter, we receive the greatest treasures.
DISCLAIMER: I think you know by now that I am not advocating for the “suffering artist” thing. I’m advocating for your reward and prosperity by offering creations that are truly yours, not that of the ego.
May this spark just one moment of interest for you,