I spent two days last weekend at the Auckland Writers Festival. It is a highlight of my year, an event I look forward to and I planned ahead with work and parenting commitments so that I could attend. I enjoyed being around creative people, listening to them describe their creative process, hearing their passion for their work and their topics. I discovered new books and authors that I haven’t read yet, I met interesting people in the queue for the bathroom and I heard about new ideas. I left with my brain buzzing, making new connections and throwing interesting thoughts together. I left inspired and full of new ideas.
If you are in a role that requires you to be creative or innovative it is wise to be thinking about how you keep your creativity flowing. You cannot treat your creativity like it is an endless stream that will keep flowing no matter how much you draw from it. Your creativity is precious and fragile and needs tending and nurturing with care. You need to balance output with input, to be thinking about how much you are drawing from your creativity and how much you are feeding into your creativity. If you neglect the tending and the input you may end up feeling like you are wringing the last drops of water from a dry sponge as you try to come up with your next idea.
Part of my well-being practice is to pay careful attention to the effect that different people, different situations and different types of input have on my ability to be creative. I have discovered that certain people who have certain ways of presenting themselves and their ideas tend to shut down my thinking, they don’t stimulate my thoughts, and they leave me dry. Other people leave me bursting with thoughts, feeling inspired and creative, and wondering how I am going to implement all the ideas I am having. Creativity is a complex mix of personality, ways of thinking and the influence of others (including friends and colleagues). So to nurture my creativity I need to pay attention to the mix that is created around me. Part of how I nurture my creativity is to make sure that my life is balanced with lots of events and people that fire up my creative thoughts. Attending the Writers Festival is not a luxury for me but an essential practice for nurturing my creativity, and making sure that my ideas are still flowing.