April 02, 2020 at 10:01AM
If you are fortunate enough to work from home, you might feel some boredom creeping up in between spurts of COVID-induced anxiety. While you may have other responsibilities to keep you busy (work meetings, home-schooling kids, and DIY projects, to name a few), you might be feeling a little—shall we say?—uninspired by your new normal.
That’s why we consulted award-winning spoken word poet IN-Q (aka, Adam Schmalholz) on this episode of the mindbodygreen podcast, as he certainly knows a thing or two about strengthening your creative muscles and cultivating inspiration.
While we might not all be professional artists like IN-Q, we all have the ability to create—this creativity can be an important outlet, especially in this time of global pandemic. Tapping into our creative side can benefit our mental health during quarantine, allowing us to enjoy a bit of escapism in our homes.
“We are all storytellers, and we are all poets, whether or not we decide to write or share anything,” he tells me. What he means is, to be creative, you don’t have to necessarily start writing poems. You can tap into your creativity in a multitude of ways, whether it’s through writing, painting, teaching, or even cooking (coming up with recipes for all your canned goods takes some creativity, no?).
To start, here are IN-Q’s four ways to tap into your creative side. Get those creative juices flowing:
1. Pay attention to when you’re inspired.
As any artist will tell you, creative projects tend to start with a burst of inspiration. That said, pay attention to whatever you’re inspired by right now. However, IN-Q takes it a step further—he says to pay attention to what you’re moved by, yes, but also what you’re angry about, frustrated by, or annoyed with.
In other words, don’t force yourself to become enamored with the world. Rather, take whatever emotions you’re feeling and try to channel it into creative energy. If you start from a place of truth, it will be easier for you to create true art.
Take it from the award-winning poet, himself: “If you create something true, it will be great.”
2. But don’t strategize your inspiration.
That said, you don’t want to force inspiration upon yourself. “For me, strategizing inspiration is like one step away from manipulation,” he says.
In other words, don’t plan a time and place to create. Instead, be surprised when your inspiration hits. He tells me that he wants to be just as surprised as the person who is listening to his poem.
“That’s much easier to me than sitting down at a blank piece of paper and being like, ‘I have to create something great right now,'” he says.
3. Don’t judge how you judge yourself.
You might judge how your art looks (or tastes, if you’ve gone the cooking route). However, as IN-Q points out, this feeling is completely normal. While it’s A-OK to judge your art, don’t judge yourself for judging it.
“Accept the fact that you might judge yourself, but don’t judge judging yourself and do it anyway,” he says. What he means is, if you’re going to judge yourself, be intentional about it rather than fighting against it—if you scold yourself for your judgment (and judge yourself anyway), it may seem like a failure.
On the other hand, if you accept the fact that you might judge yourself, that judgment can ultimately have less power. The bottom line? You’re going to judge how your art turns out, so just let it happen. Chances are, it won’t stop you from starting a new creative project.
4. Remember that no one can teach you your own voice.
IN-Q can offer all the advice he wants, but only you have the ability to discover your own creative voice. No one can teach you what your unique voice is when it comes to art—you have to experience it and express it for yourself.
“Think about something that’s moving and meaningful to you,” IN-Q says. “Think about a story from the past, a moment that changed who you are.” When you express those moments, your own voice will naturally come out—so trust the process.
“All other people can do is give you some techniques, give you a platform to explore, or give you some prompts or tools,” IN-Q says. But ultimately, the rest is up to you. An empowering statement, especially if you may feel confined in the corners of your own home as of late.
No matter what kind of art speaks to you, it’s more important now than ever to start creating—whatever that process looks like to you. With IN-Q’s tips, hopefully you’re one step closer to tapping into your creativity and finding inspiration, even amid darker times.