The Secret to Recharging Your Creativity

Posted on 11/23/2010

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Hi Fun Seekers,

A very good Tuesday to you . . . a very good Tuesday, indeed.

I woke up this morning with this song on my mind and heart. ‘Tis interesting, as I’ve not heard it in many years. Give it a listen and share it if you like it.

Now onto the subject at hand. If you’re someone who is in the creation business, whether an artist, musician, author, speaker, blogger, photographer, performer, et. al., you understand what “creativity depletion” is.

That’s when you’ve sapped all your of creative energies, your “creativity adrenals” are shot, you’re mentally and emotionally drained, and you’re moving fast into lethargy.

If you sample some of the most creative people in history (at least the well-known ones), they often speak about solitude as a continuous habit to keep their creative juices flowing. Here are some examples (but this is NOT the point of my post, so read on after the quotes):

“When I am, as it were, completely myself, entirely alone, and of good cheer–say, traveling in a carriage or walking after a good meal or during the night when I cannot sleep–it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly.” ~Mozart

“Although I have a regular work schedule, I take time to go for long walks on the beach so that I can listen to what is going on inside my head. If my work isn’t going well, I lie down in the middle of a workday and gaze at the ceiling while I listen and visualize what goes on in my imagination.” ~Einstein

“You need not leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You need not even listen, simply wait, just learn to become quiet, and still, and solitary.” ~Kafka

“One can be instructed in society, one is inspired only in solitude.” ~Goethe

“The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude. Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone—that is the secret of invention: be alone, that is when ideas are born.” ~Tesla

“Without great solitude no serious work is possible.” ~Picasso

Different people require different amounts of solitude. Extroverts need less than introverts do. (I’m an extrovert, which means I derive energy from talking to people.)

Those who are taxed with intense daily familial responsibilities (like homeschooling moms) require far more solitude than the average bear. (In fact, it’s key to their sanity.)

Because I work from home, I get tons of solitude. But I’ve discovered something else that recharges my creative battery more than solitude.

It’s recreation.

Recreation = any activity that refreshes and recreates; any activity that renews your health and spirits by enjoyment and relaxation. Any activity that diverts, amuses, stimulates, or rejuvenates.

Consider the word itself: re-creation. It is re(charging) your creative abilities.

Let me shamelessly admit that I used to think of recreational/leisurely activities as the near equivalent of wasting time. For me, a typical work-day is 12 hours. I don’t view my weekends any different from my week days. On Saturdays and Sundays, I’m often taking time between normative responsibilities to write, read, prep., etc.

In the past, if I indulged in a past-time that was fun, entertaining, or just plain relaxing, I felt like I was being unproductive. In recent years, I’ve rethought this. I now see recreation as immensely valuable to my spiritual life, my mind, my will, my emotions, my creative abilities, my writing, and my speaking.

What I once regarded as time-wasters, I now see as necessary recharges to my creativity. And whenever a recreational activity involves another person(s), it serves as a relationship builder as well.

In addition, because I’m habituated to keep my spiritual eyes open, I often see the Lord in many of these “non-productive” activities. As I put it in one of my books, “Spiritual maturity is not the ability to see the extraordinary, but the ability to see the ordinary through God’s eyes.”

Some things that people do for recreation:

  • Walking around the mall.
  • Shopping.
  • Having a long phone conversation with a friend about non-work related matters.
  • Playing a video game.
  • Chatting online with a friend—having good-hearted, comic banter.
  • Watching or playing a sport.
  • Listening to music (as foreground rather than background).
  • Taking a long scenic drive.
  • Sitting on the beach and reading a “fun” book.
  • Watching a mindless movie or television show.
  • Getting a massage, taking a long nap, or sitting outdoors and watching nature do its thang.

The kind of re-recreation that one engages in will differ from person to person. But the key ingredient here is that you’re doing something that you DO NOT consider to be work in any way, shape, or form. You enjoy it, and it relaxes you.

Like anything else, we humans tend to fall off one side of the horse or the other. So I’m rather sure there are people who spend too much time recreating, and so their work suffers.

But I’ve been just the opposite.

Yet in recent years I feel as though I’ve hit the proper balance. As a result, I’ve been more productive than ever. Without this renewed understanding of recreation in my life, I doubt that I could have authored 6 books, written hundreds of blog posts and articles, and delivered scores of spoken messages since 2007.

Sometimes there are needed periods of prolonged recreation. This is where a musician or band may take a year off from touring or cutting an album. Where an author may take a long break from writing. Or where a conference-speaker may take a long break from traveling and speaking.

Such protracted seasons of recreation are like letting your cell phone battery drain fully and then recharging it overnight. Prolonged recreation becomes necessary when creative output has been intense for an extended period of time. However, when the “sabbatical” is over, the artist comes back refreshed with new insight and fresh material.

Shifting gears quickly: Because many of us are sitting on the teetering edge of Thanksgiving, this will be my last blog post for the week. I won’t be blogging tomorrow or Thursday, like I typically do. (I just saw thousands of heads drop and heard tons of groans . . . not.)

That said, consider doing the following this week:

  • Skim the Blog Archives and catch up on posts that catch your eye and haven’t yet read. The page is arranged by category. You can still make comments on most of them.
  • Check out our Mediography. Most of the resources on it are free.
  • Subscribe to the Christ is ALL podcast if you haven’t already.
  • Subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss a post. You can subscribe via a blog reader or by email.
  • If you find this blog to be helpful, let your friends know about it.

Now it’s your turn . . .

What are some things you do for re-creation (recharge)?

Related:

Advice for Christian Authors

Writing, Ministry, and Money

What I’ve Learned in Two Years of Blogging

Tips for Bloggers

Five Mistakes I’ve Made in Writing

The Secret to Recharging Your Creativity

What Inspires You?

Daily Routines, Reading, and Productive Hours

Why I Deactivated My Facebook Wall

Are You Published or Do You Wish to Be?

A Word to All Authors – Aspiring or Actual

The New Roman Road

The Writing of JESUS MANIFESTO

Christian Artists = Music Artists

Daily Routines for Writers

Why You Should Create Your Own Archives Pages

Knowing Where Everything Is & Fascinating Letters

The CHRIST IS ALL podcast

Complete Mediography

Jesus Manifesto Website– updated regularly

FAQ on Pagan Christianity and Reimagining Church

ReChurch Your Life

Check out the new Must-Have-In-Your-Library Book List. Also, subscribe to the free CHRIST IS ALL podcast. The podcast is for both iTunes and non-iTunes users. It contains Christ-centered conference messages, interviews, book chapters, etc.

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