You can be as productive as you want to be in your life, but if what you're producing isn't getting at the creative spirit within you, then odds are that you're going to still feel unfulfilled - no matter how outwardly "successful" you appear to be.  Since we are ALL (without exception) creative to some degree, your creative spirit is right there waiting for you to tap into it.  In this article, I'm going to give you a few foolproof techniques to jumpstart your creativity.  These tips will faciliate honoring the elements of your mind, body, heart, and spirit - and making space in your life to be creative, which will be your unique expression of those elements.  If you're already creative (but feeling stuck), these tips should help you identify what elements you're neglecting (to the detriment of your creativity).  On the other hand, if you wish you were more creative and are still looking for a New Year's resolution, how about "In 2008 I am going to find ways to be more creative in my personal and professional life"?

  1. Collect your thoughts.  How many times have you had a killer idea, only to forget it later in the day?  This technique is a habit right out of GTD/ZTD/AnyTD.  As our minds wander throughout the day, experiencing the world and doing what it does (making associations between those experiences), you will have many ideas that are the seeds of your creative garden.  Write them down (or record them in a voice recorder, or whatever it is that works best for you)!  I like to carry around a small memo pad/pen wherever I go - and I also have a tiny portable digital voice recorder (for recording melody/song ideas as they pop into my head).  Also, process your thoughts on a regular basis - meaning go through your thoughts and categorize them for current action or future reference.  Lately I've been experimenting with ThinkingRock (available for free - check out the ThinkingRock website) which seems to be working pretty well for me,  but how you do it is much less important than just DOING it.  Collect your thoughts and process them regularly to remind yourself of what you've been thinking about.  Enough said.
  2. Keep a dream journal.  Keep another notebook next to your bed, and write down snippets of your dreams IMMEDIATELY upon awakening.  Without question our creativity springs forth from within the deepest corners of our psyche - the same place accessed by our dreaming selves every single night.  By recording your dreams, not only will you be able to remember your dreams more easily, but you will also be creating a bridge between your conscious mind (awake) and your subconscious mind.  That bridge will give you more creative energy and ideas to fuel your creative endeavors.
  3. Keep a regular journal.  Your journal is a place for your to have a dialogue with yourself about what's going on in your life.  You can just document what's happening, or you can ask your higher self questions and write down the answers that you're inspired to write.  It's especially helpful if you write about your emotional experience.  In other words, write down things that are happening in your life, and then write about how those things make you feel.  If you're writing about an experience that includes other people, spend a little time writing about how those people might also be feeling in the particular situation.  Set aside 10-15 minutes each day to write in your journal.  I prefer an old-fashioned spiral-bound sketchbook for my journaling, but if you like to journal on your computer, you should check out "The Journal", which is journaling software that helps you manage the journaling process - plus they offer lots of valuable templates to jumpstart your journaling, or versions focused on particular kinds of journaling.
  4. Every day do SOMETHING physical.  I'm not talking about an exercise program, people (though that's great, of course).  Just pick something that you can do for 20-30 minutes that allows you to be in your body.  That can be a walk around the neighborhood.  Or Pilates in your livingroom.  Or Yamuna Body Rolling.  Or meditating.  Or pushups.  As you do whatever it is you're doing, focus on the present moment.  Breathe.  Let the sensations that you're experiencing in your body register on your brain.  "Oh, I'm tight there", or "oh, that feels good".  If you're out and about in your neighborhood, pay attention to what's happening around you.  What are the birds doing?  What are the squirrels doing?  What kinds of trees are you passing?  How does the air smell?  Relish your physical experience during this time.  Don't be "about" it.  Be IN it.
  5. Set aside regular time for creative endeavors.  This is the starting point for allowing yourself to do something with all that creative energy - to create.  Set appointments with yourself to "be creative".  Now, what're you going to do?  Maybe you already have a good sense of that from the thoughts you've been collecting and the dreams you've been having?  Or maybe you're just going to spontaneously do something when that time arrives?  Or maybe you think that you'll do one thing, but when the appointed time arrives you're inspired to do something else?  Or maybe when that time arrives you feel completely uninspired, so you just spend the time writing in your journal?  Whatever it is, my suggestion is that you give yourself at least 30 minutes 3 times per week to "be creative".  During that time, in order to maintain your focus, remove yourself from distractions, and give yourself permission to do WHATEVER occurs to you.  If nothing occurs to you, then do whatever it is you WANT to be creative about.  In other words, if you want to be a painter - paint.  If you want to be a singer - sing.  If you want to be a writer - write.  It's the people who sit around waiting for inspiration who rarely get anything done, while the people who commit to DOING are the ones who are consistently creative and productive.  Trust me - the doing will give rise to the creative self that you've been nurturing with the other 4 steps.  And while you've scheduled 30 minutes for your creative activity, you might want to allow yourself a little extra time just in case you get all caught up in your creative endeavors and need more time to finish.

We all entered this world as an act of creation, and it is in that light that we make our way through every day of our lives.  When you take time to honor all aspects of your being and make space in your life to be creative, you will be able to bring something that is uniquely "you" to the world.  There's a reason that you're here, folks, and the only way we're going to find out what it is is if you take the time to get to know yourself and the world around you - and then create!  Something.  Anything!  We want to know who you are, who the REAL you is.  You have something unique that only you can create, and I can't wait to hear all about it.  Now get to it!

neil sattin and dash - big action man and little action boy