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create now.

Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating.” John Cleese

what do you need to be creative?

At a recent strategic meeting, a gifted facilitator asked our group of fairly practiced creative types a question few of us had thought about: “What conditions do you like or need to have that help you feel your most creative?” Hmm. Great question. Quick, interesting responses. Ball rolling.

Exactly all of us kept thinking about our own answers, and what we couldn’t think of on the spot. For days afterward.

On our monthly retreats, we guides and youth alike are trying out and honing the qualities of creating that matter most. By that, we don’t mean that we care about the outcome so much as the possibility to dive in and feel creative flow. What we each want and need varies, naturally. For one, it’s real quiet—in a warm window seat, with a good pen and journal. For another, it starts with a backpack, paints and no plan beyond a nearby trailhead. Still others can’t imagine creating without music, or color, or time enough to spread out and make a mess they can actually see unfolding into something that didn’t exist before.

consider the conditions.

We may know a few of the conditions that foster our most creative moments. But few of us had thought about why. That’s what got us thinking, what sparked our curiosity—in our own, unspoken “ways of operating.” We’ve learned that the better we understand ourselves, the more likely we are to dive in and take risks (creative or otherwise) on short notice.

when it comes to creating, here are some conditions that may be important to you:

  • Light. Bright day light. Or the incandescent spotlight of nighttime. Or the rosy quiet just before sunrise.

  • Color. The entire rainbow, as saturated as it can get! Or shades of blue. Or wide open white space.

  • Comfort. A pocket-filled painting apron you love. A warm fireside. Or a cool porch swing.

  • Sound. Streaming Miles Davis through headphones. Coffee shop banter. Birdsong. Complete silence.

  • Surroundings. A monastic studio with only your creative tools within reach. Or a pinboard of images, piles of reading, and shelves full of collectibles.

  • Materials. These are the ingredients you can’t cook without. A well-tuned guitar. Sharp scissors. Poetry to read before you start writing.

Days of noodling taught us that thinking about our own creative kickstarters was one thing. But hearing what our friends and family members like expanded our imaginations even more. It’s easy to assume that what supports us supports others, too. Turns out, our go-to conditions for creativity span a spectrum as broad you can imagine, and more ideas than we can jot down with our favorite pens.

do tell!

What do you need most to feel your most creative? Ice cream? Beach sand? Dancing into the night with a raucous steel drum band? Please tell us below. We can’t wait to share what we hear from our creative clan (yes, that means you)!


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