You can’t use up creativity.

You can’t use up creativity.

I’ve been writing my weekly newspaper column since May 2001. I could write it daily – It’s a joy and I never run out of ideas. One of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes is: “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

Many people tell themselves that they’re not creative. We believe what we tell ourselves so it’s time to do so reprogramming. You are creative. You are a vast treasure trove of ideas. Once you allow yourself to drop a little droplet, the flow begins.

I attended a training session for entrepreneurs and one of the exercises was to write a haiku about your services. Being an English major (and yes accounting major; left brain/right brain unite!), that made me grin. We were given 60 seconds to compose a haiku. For those who don’t know what the heck I’m talking about, it’s a three line verse in the pattern of 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables.

My first draft of this exercise came out:

Let’s birth your book now

No labor pains required

Become an author

5/7/5. You give it a try. Write about your biz, your dreams, your house, your family, your mate, your pet. 5.7.5.

Prince Charming is real.

He’s my husband, my soul mate.

Fairy tales come true.

Yes, I use my fingers to count out the syllables. This little exercise gets the creativity well bubbling up. If you say you are not creative, you’ve just been letting it lie dormant. It’s time to wake it up.

Many people express their creativity in the kitchen. In the garden. In their home decor. In the gifts they wrap. We all express differently and we all are creative.

Our kids are creative and sometimes we unwittingly try to squash it out of them. Don’t.

I was never more proud of my son than when he returned from taking an AP exam his senior year in high school. He reported that he blanked out on the last essay question on the Econ exam so instead he wrote 19 haikus and a story about a leprechaun.

I told him he was going to be just fine in this world.

(For you scoffers out there, know this young man was a straight-A student all throughout school and is now on the Dean’s List as a college freshman. And he’s an all-around wonderful person.)

When you think that your well has run dry, it hasn’t. You just need to do a rain dance. Focus your creative efforts on something besides the task at hand. If you are stuck with a work project, take a break into other creative pursuits. It can be taking a walk and letting the cobwebs clear or it can be getting messy.

People who spend time painting, wood working, gardening, etc, etc, etc are more productive and creative in their “real” work. This outlet gets those droplets flowing again. So take a break and go arrange flowers in a vase. Move the pretties around on your shelves. Bake some swirly cupcakes.

If you are writing a book and getting hung up in the enormity of the project, do the 6-word story exercise. The rumor is that Hemingway was the first to write a six word story: “For sale, baby shoes. Never worn.”

I do the 6-word story exercise in writing workshops and joy workshops. People can tell a lot about themselves in six words. Try it. I could teach a whole day on that alone.

Point is, Maya was right. You can’t use up creativity. It’s there, always. You just have to take a deep breath and let it ooze out.

Let the flow begin.