MANY DAYS I wake up and feel like I’m missing something. I feel like there’s something I should be doing, something that I often can’t put my finger on. There’s a sort of guilt that interrupts my rest in the evenings after work and during weekends. It’s an annoying feeling that sometimes turns into an annoying voice telling me I should be creating something or doing something “productive.” I know that what satiates this feeling is creating something. However, the problem with that is that I can be really freaking lazy.
That’s why I’ve written this. Trust me when I say that this took a while to write. Every sentence took a concerted effort. But in the same sense, creativity is what excites me and that drove me to keep writing, little by little, word by word. I’m glad you’re here, because even reading these words means you’re doing something productive and, hopefully, are working on your own creativity. My brand of creativity is little by little, piece by piece, mark by mark. It’s creating something, either tangible or intangible, even when I don’t have a lot of energy or time (although time is another piece factor – more on that later). It’s thinking about ideas and giving them permission to grow and influence how I operate, even if just for mere minutes in a day. Sometimes my creativity doesn’t get any further than an idea, just something that floats around in my head for a while and then dissipates into the ether. My creativity may be working on a project for weeks, only to eventually stop working on it until I store it in my closet (often figuratively, but sometimes a literal closet – my creativity doesn’t help my hoarding tendencies). My creativity is a pushback to my strong urge to sit in front of the TV or computer screen for hours on end. My creativity is always changing, sometimes jumping from thing to thing, often leading to uncompleted projects. All in all, my creativity is a Lazy Creativity – and that’s okay, because it’s my Lazy Creativity.
Creativity is a concept I’ve thought a lot about over the past few years. It’s something I’ve struggled with and challenged myself with. It’s been a huge source of anxiety for me at times and a huge relief of anxiety for me at other times. It exists on a spectrum and sometimes feels like it doesn’t exist for us at all. In my mind, creativity is a way of thinking and being that uses our imagination and ideas to approach the world we live in (or to create new worlds). It’s looking at something, whether tangible or intangible, and figuring it out. Sometimes it’s creating something, sometimes it’s solving a problem, sometimes it’s just looking at something differently.
We all have our own unique relationships with creativity, and, because of that, it shows up in an infinite number of ways. We often hear phrases like “she’s a creative person,” “I’m not a very creative person,” or “I wish I was more creative.” Those are all fair statements. Creativity is something we all have, but not everyone makes space for it. To use a clichéd analogy, creativity is a lot like having houseplants. For many people, it’s just there. It may sit in the pot and stay about the same size its entire life. If you’re like me, its “entire life” isn’t that long because I can’t keep a plant alive to save my life. (Growing up I bought about ten different bonsai trees because, well, why the hell not? None of them lasted longer than a few weeks. I kept trying. I’m a monster, I know). You need to water and care for it if you want it to grow until sometimes, it grows so big that you need a different pot for it. We even clip some of its branches/stems to create other plants, until we become obsessive plant parents. Just as with plants, we need to nurture, care for, and spread our creativity. Obsessive plant person is today’s version of “crazy cat lady.” My wish is that everyone would become a “crazy plant lady” of creativity.
You don’t have to consider yourself to be a “creative person” to think, make, and live creatively. I remember drawing a lot as a kid. I was obsessed with the Lord of the Rings; I read all the books, watched all the movies, and was a huge nerd for it all. I have a fond memory of drawing images from the books as I read them. It helped make the story feel more vivid and alive, and it branched out in my mind as I mentally expanded on the universe and created my own little corner in it with my drawings. At the time I didn’t think of it as creativity, of course. It was just something I did as a super nerdy kid. I encourage you to think about the earliest memory you have of creating something you were excited about. Maybe you thought about an original idea, or maybe you expanded on something that already exists.
There will be more time for reflection throughout this book, so pace yourself accordingly. Would this really be a self-help book without some interactive components? Throughout this book I’ll include some very small exercises to help you get started thinking creatively. Feel free to write down the exercises and do them outside of the book, or, if you’re feeling bold, feel free to write right inside the book. Let’s be honest, you’re not going to want to give this book to a friend once you’re done, so make it your own! If you do mark up the book and end up giving it to a friend (or a complete stranger!), then I hope you can do so and feel proud that your work will be integrated into their experience reading this book. I hope you’re so confident, in fact, that you use a pen: No. Turning. Back. Which is exactly how I want you to approach creativity!
I’ve broken this book down into a few sections that mimic a more linear creative process. I start with an introduction to Lazy Creativity and the creative process. From there, the book is separated into three main sections: Getting Started, Continuing Creativity, and Moving Forward. These sections cover the creative process from beginning to end (although my hope is that there isn’t really ever an end). Use this book as a guide or as a reference. The creative process isn’t always linear, so please use this resource in whatever way is most helpful to you. It’s your creativity, so make adjustments as needed. Now, without further ado, let’s do some introductions.