Change supports creativity

If you change nothing, nothing will change

There will be signs pointing to change

In a former life, I traveled a lot for business and learned to appreciate airport book stores. That’s how I found “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron.

Or maybe it found me. It literally fell off the shelf and landed at my feet. I took it as a sign.

I’m glad I acted on it because that book changed everything for me.

It took a few years and some false starts but what I found in Cameron’s book – a creative life – becomes more real every day. The latest step was our move to Nova Scotia I found adventure, new horizons and inspiration.

It’s also shaking up old habits and routines which, I’m discovering is a very good thing.

Routines keep us on autopilot

Without realizing it, I’ve been shaking up the routines in my life since that book plopped down in front of me. It was only when I started tracing my journey to this point that I made the connection.

Routine supports habit and habits are what make up a good portion of my day (and I’m sure yours.) But when we aren’t paying attention we’re risk missing the very things that light up our creativity.

One gift of our move is that my familiar routines disappeared when we arrived here. I didn’t even know how to find the grocery story without consulting Google. Because nothing is routine any longer, I’m noticing a lot more plus I get to choose what habits keep my creative light shining.

I’m purposely choosing habits to support fresh perspectives.

Need a little change in your life?

Before our move, those disruptions in routine often started because I got curious.

“Why am I doing it this way? Is there something different I could try? If it’s always been A, what would B look like? Am I operating on autopilot? Am I doing this for my own reasons or because it’s what “they” expect?”

I recommend you start small and build up your tolerance for change. You may find it only takes a couple of minor shifts to re-adjust your priorities and open your eyes.

Changes that worked for me

  • Change a small habit

Always put your left shoe on first then your right? Try switching it up. If you always shower before breakfast, try waiting until after you eat. Small changes force your brain into new neural pathways and start the process of waking you up.

The patterns of my life surprised me. Some were so ingrained (like the shoe thing) that the change felt really weird — which meant I was in the right territory.

  • Take a different route to work or the store or gramma’s house

Being on unfamiliar roads forces you to pay attention. You notice more and stay aware of what’s happening around you.  You could even try turning off the radio and see what fills the silence.

New routes and no radio sparked many creative connections for me. So be sure to have a way to capture your own ideas, even if you have to pull over to write them down.

  • Change how you use your break timeSet an alarm and take a 15 minute break in your day to write or draw or…

You can do a lot in 15 minutes. 15 minutes a day for a full year is over 90 hours of time! Think what you could accomplish if you had 90 hours, because you do have that time if you stop to use it.

I calculated that in 90 hours I could write a complete novel or create a number of new paintings or sew a few quilt tops. The trick is to have your space and supplies ready so that when you sit down, you actually work for those 15 minutes.

  • Rearrange your furniture so your space feels new

You don’t have to move houses to make your home different. Just shifting things around, removing clutter or rethinking how you use a particular piece of furniture will give you a fresh perspective on your space. It will feel new because it will force your habits to change as well.

My family will tell you I rearrange furniture or re-paint rooms pretty regularly. I find it freshens up my space and my thinking.

  • For “bonus points”, re-imagine how you use the rooms in your house

Before we moved, I did this (a lot) and it helped (a lot). Does it really have to be a living room? Could you swap your family room with your bedroom? What if you filled the buffet with art supplies and claimed the dining room as a studio?

I discovered “found space” in my own home when we decided we didn’t need a living AND a family room with just two adults in the house. Once you’re able to let go of  what ‘they’ say a room should be used for and look at it through your creative lens, you can come up with all kinds of surprises.

  • Swap space with a friend to use as a creative retreat

Maybe your living circumstances don’t allow for a lot of change in your own home. But who says your studio or creative spot has to be there? Let a friend use your kitchen table while you take advantage of theirs.

The bonus with this is the commitment you make to one another, like having a running buddy waiting at the end of the driveway. You’re more likely to get stuff done!

You can also go to your local coffee shop or library. Plus all those responsibilities you feel in your own home? They disappear in someone else’s place.

  • Rent space outside of your home to use as your creative place

If rent seems like too much for your budget, find some fellow creatives to share the expense with you. Then set a schedule for using it so there’s no misunderstandings.

Small steps add up

I didn’t start with a major change. It was the small incremental steps that added up to something big. I encourage you to shake up your routines and start living your own creative life, happy life.

Ask yourself right now”What could I do to live more creatively?”

Share your ideas in the comments below. Your idea may be the key that someone else is looking for. You never know who you might inspire!

4 thoughts on “If you change nothing, nothing will change”

  1. Enjoyed and appreciated your article about Change Aprille and your move to Nova Scotia absolutely gives you credibility. I also like the “small step” idea. As a normally early morning person I want and need to incorporate writing earlier in my day and then throughout rather than waiting for the urge which comes sporadically. You have inspired me to set times for those small changes in routine and to enjoy the process. Thanks again Aprille for sharing practical advice about embracing change based on your experience.

    1. I’m a morning person myself so I hear you! It’s the juiciest, most creative part of my day. Even on busy days, I look for 15 minute “windows of opportunity”. I feel I’m making progress on something that’s important to me. And I have to say, I love(!) Nova Scotia.

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