4 Tips To Unleash Your Creativity As A Writer — Taken From The Masters
With Julia Cameron and Elizabeth Gilbert
When it comes to the problems arising from the art of writing, creativity takes the lead.
Many of us think that creativity is inherent, as if having a third eye distinguishing us from other human beings with a divine-like feature. Consequently, we give up writing at the first encounter with a block, whether about inspiration, subject matter, or writing style.
Julia Cameron undertakes a mentor’s role for the above-mentioned aspiring writers, asserting that creativity is an authentic spiritual path that requires a leap of faith and devotion.
Cameron believes in the magic of hard work and patience. With her famous book, The Artist’s Way, she has brought creativity into the mainstream conversation by encouraging young writers to reach their potential.
As one of her students, Elizabeth Gilbert, stated that The Artist’s Way not only helped her write Eat, Pray, Love, but it also led her to a creative life and self-discovery. Gilbert then wrote Big Magic, where she talks about our fears that withholds us from creative experiences and offers solutions to overcome these fears.
In a webinar organized by How To Academy, Cameron and Gilbert talked about the path to a creatively-fulfilling life. Listening simultaneously to these writers was like swimming in a well of wisdom, embodied with a magnet for useful tips to switch on my creativity.
As an aspiring writer, I was all ears during their conversation, and here are four useful tips I have learned from these masters:
#1: Go on a date with your best self
A date with yourself, which Julia Cameron calls “artist dates,” is one of the suggestions for unleashing creativity.
When you immerse yourself in your work too much, you can focus on your job’s pragmatic sides and remove the enjoyment from the process. Thus, your ideas can block the mind, building gravels for creativity.
How to deal:
For these moments, Cameron and Gilbert suggest you taking yourself out weekly to take inspiration from the outside world to get closer to your inner child.
Falling down the rabbit hole in these moments can open a window to inspiration and rejuvenation, triggering you to meet the most playful side of yourself.
When you experience the writer’s block, it’s essential to put the problem aside and focus on something fun. While you enjoy your date, your subconscious will deal with the issue, without disturbing your inner peace, and come up with a solution.
It’s challenging to have outside activities such as visiting museums, local art galleries, nature, or streets during the days of coronavirus. Therefore, the writers suggest new indoor hobbies such as creating a mini herb garden in your kitchen, trying a new branch of art, focusing on self-care, journaling, cooking new recipes, and holding your solo dance party.
“Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play. Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration.” — Julia Cameron
#2: Perfection is the enemy of creativity
The inner critic is the part of your brain that always judges your works, ambitions, and dreams. It’s the “you’re messed up” voice that sabotages your success.
When you choose a creative path to earn your living, perfectionism dangles around your neck, ready to hurt you anytime. Speaking regularly in your brain and telling you what kind of a loser you’re, this voice prevents you from unleashing the most creative side of yourself. “Because you’re never enough.”
Your inner critic kills your projects even before they begin. It clips your wings and makes your journey towards inspiration impossible. As Elizabeth Gilbert says, “the inner voice has killed more art projects again any censorship, dictators, or regime.”
How to deal:
According to Cameron and Gilbert, inner criticism is the worst enemy for creativity because it occurs merely in your brain. To overcome this way of self-sabotaging, they suggest some mental exercises.
Give a name to your inner critic just as Julia Cameron calls hers “Nigel.” Nigel is “a gay British interior designer,” looking down on her, and “nothing is ever good enough for Nigel.” By giving your inner voice an identity, you can gain a distance from it and silence the negative words.
As mentors praising the process over the talent to achieve creativity, these writers commit themselves to strong work ethics to defeat their inner-critic.
Creativity is like a muscle that can get stronger with regular exercises. You get to sweat to get your results. If you regularly work to achieve your goals, your inner critic gives up demeaning you because you devoid yourself to show up.
“Perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat, pretending to be elegant when actually it’s just terrified. Because underneath that shiny veneer, perfectionism is nothing more that a deep existential angst the says, again and again, ‘I am not good enough and I will never be good enough.’” — Elizabeth Gilbert
#3: Morning pages build a reputation for a reason
Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, a stream of consciousness writing, done first in the morning. The idea is to write whatever flows in your mind as soon as you wake up.
There is much anxiety, stress, pressure unfolding in your everyday life. Julia Cameron famously suggests this morning exercise because artists often experience blocks in their artistic processes due to these daily worries. As a writer, you may feel stuck after writing half of your novel or may run out of ideas to create content on Medium.
How to deal:
Your original ideas often lay in the depth of your minds, like pearls waiting to come out of their shells. In these moments of blockings, you should access your subconscious.
Writing as the first thing in the mornings makes this access easier because you still stay in the realms of our subconscious, far from societal expectations and your monotonous life.
The method of writing morning pages helps you establish strong work ethics and silence your inner critic as well.
Your subconscious can work even when you’re physically awake if you try to find contents to write.
The pure art of submerging will bring your authentic voice, clarity, and confidence in your writing. You’ll discover your creativity and become an idea generator.
“They will point the way True North. Each morning, as we face the page, we meet ourselves. The pages give us a place to vent and a place to dream. They are intended for no eyes but our own.” — Julia Cameron
#4: Be brave
The simplest yet most crucial part of the journey towards creativity is to be brave. Authentically and unapologetically. By definition of Liz Gilbert, you can unlock your creativity by asking this question:
“Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”
When it comes to writing, nothing is a more dangerous obstacle than the abstract feeling that hovers around your neck: fear.
Fear is an inevitable part of the creative process because creativity wants you to submerge in the unknown. And, fear hates the ambiguity. However, if you blindly follow your anxiety, you’ll lose even before beginning. You’ll ignore to discover your potentials.
How to deal:
You can be afraid of having no talent, being rejected, criticized, ridiculed, misunderstood, or ignored.
The fears that prevent you from creating are bottomless lists, creating a vicious circle in which you squeeze yourself. Identifying your concerns will prevent your fears from taking the driver’s seat of your journey.
If you want to live your life creatively, you should take some risks. Life is considerably short and is worth doing exciting things. Considering that fear will always accompany you, you should learn how to manage it. As much as being creative takes discipline, focus, and commitment, it also needs courage — perhaps more than anything.
“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to uncover those jewels — that’s creative living.” — Elizabeth Gilbert
- Solo dates in unfamiliar places can spark inspiration and give you a fresh perspective.
- Perfectionism is lethal for your creative journey, and you should focus on the process.
- Morning pages can clear your mind and bring you good work ethics.
- Be brave, my dear. Everything else will follow.
Buse Umur is an M.A. student of European, American, and Postcolonial Language and Literature at Ca’ Foscari University. Her research covers the female and postcolonial identity in contemporary English literature. She also writes about equality, culture, and feminism on Medium (@buseumur)