Everyone likes to think they’re creative, but what does it really mean to live a creative life? It’s a lot simpler than you think, and maybe a whole lot harder to put into practice than it should be.

a woman holding a colored pencil over a sheet of paper with the text "Simple Ways to Live a Creative Life"

Creativity means using original ideas and imagination to make stuff, especially art.

I won’t bug you about the definition of art, or what qualifies as art. I’m of the mind that the definition is a lot broader than we often want it to be. But I’ll also acknowledge that I often think of myself more as a craftsperson than an artist, simply because I don’t want the weight that comes with the idea of art.

I will say that whether I’m writing fiction or a blog post, or even trying to make dinner out of the stuff I have left in the pantry, creativity plays a big role in how I live. Yes, there is a connection between creativity and age, but if you want more creativity in your life, you simply have to welcome it in.

What Does It Mean to Live a Creative Life?

Creativity is broad enough that there is no one way to live a creative life. Instead, I would say, in a broad sense, that living a creative life means you feel lit up inside.

What does lit up mean? What does it feel like when you’re doing the stuff that lights you up?

You tell me. We’re all different, and I don’t know how it feels for you to embrace creativity and make stuff.

I will say that for me, living a creative life feels hard to get to when I’m out of it, but easy to stay in once I’m in it. It’s being able to access that state of flow easily. It’s being able to write 5,000 words an hour without really noticing I’ve done it. It’s having ideas just come to me that I can use in the moment.

It looks messy from the outside, but when I’m living creatively, I’m happiest, and I’m often surrounded by tons of notebooks overflowing with ideas, half-completed projects, and tons of little side art projects I had to start to burn off energy.

So, how do I get to that point? How do I enable myself to live a creative life?

Simple Ways to Live a Creative Life

Like I said, there is no one way to live a creative life. But I will say beyond a shadow of a doubt that creativity doesn’t lie in going to work, coming home, binging Netflix with a glass of wine, and then going to bed so you can start the whole cycle over again.

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Trust me. I’ve tried to make that work. It didn’t.

To live a creative life you have to cultivate a series of habits that enable you to access your creativity more easily. Here are some ways I suggest you do that:

001: Make space for the art you love.

Whether it’s time on your schedule or a spot on your bookshelf or gallery wall, you have to make space for the art you love. That means surrounding yourself with the stuff that inspires you and giving yourself time to engage in your creative activity of choice.

I know time is hard to come by. And I also know that if you only have one specific time a week to to work on your art, it can be difficult to just sit down and make something. It’s hard to get into that creative zone when you haven’t been there in a while.

So, instead, I recommend creating an environment around yourself that allows you to drop into that headspace easily. Use the same scented candle every time you work on your thing. Play the same playlist. Have a special space in your home where you only do that thing.

You’ll find it’s way easier to make space for your art that way.

002: Choose art over stuff you’re “supposed to do.”

I have been doing this since college and I have no regrets. Sure, I’ve missed a lot of parties, gatherings, girl’s trips, and networking events. But had I attended those things, I wouldn’t have been doing something I enjoy so much more.

It’s hard to explain to someone who isn’t creative that you won’t be doing something that is expected of you. But also, you don’t have to explain if you don’t want to. You’re free to ghost them if necessary.

A lot of the things we’re supposed to do aren’t really things you need to do. So if it’s not paying your bills, giving you precious time with loved ones, or required by law, you’re free to skip the next thing you feel obligated to do simply because others will be there.

003: Schedule time for daydreaming.

Admittedly, I don’t schedule time for this anymore. It kind of just happens and I drop into a daydream and find myself staring at a wall an hour later, my coffee completely cold.

I’m working on it.

But I do think there’s a need for daydreaming. It’s quiet time in your head. It’s a time when you can just let your brain generate ideas without putting any expectations on the ideas.

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If you find that you haven’t been inspired in a while or like you can’t create the sort of things you want to, schedule some daydreaming time. You’ll be surprised what your brain can do when you let it off the short leash.

004: Wear your heart on your sleeve.

Look. We aren’t surviving a global pandemic to play it cool and act like we’re not into the stuff we love. So let people know what you like.

You get to talk about what you’re into. And being into stuff ironically? That shit is dead. We don’t do that. We unapologetically love what we love and we tell the world about it, okay?

And the same goes for people you like. Tell your friends and family you love them. Tell them they matter all the time.

Let it all hang out, gang. Creativity is vulnerable, and you can’t be creative if you don’t actively practice being vulnerable sometimes.

005: Always be sincere.

And since we’re wearing our hearts on our sleeves, it’s time for some sincerity too. Real creativity isn’t sarcastic or self-deprecating.

To me, creativity is delightfully un-self-conscious. You just do it, without thinking of how you look while you do it. And the result is genuine.

Sincerity, much like wearing your heart on your sleeve, is vulnerable, so this isn’t the easiest thing for a lot of people to do. But staying in this sincere headspace will make it easier for you to create.

006: Venture outside your comfort zone often.

I’ve always said your comfort zone is uncomfortable. And I believe it’s there to keep us stagnant.

So when it comes to doing creative stuff and living creatively, you have to get outside your comfort zone because your comfort zone isn’t where you take risks and make important stuff.

You don’t have to stay outside your comfort zone for long, nor do you always have to be pushing yourself to make something new and exciting. But if you like pushing yourself creatively so you can create more and more, then don’t skip this step.

007: Take risks.

Once you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone, it’s time to take some risks. These can be with your work, or with the audience you’re going to show the work to, or even the contest you want to enter your work into.

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The point of taking risks is to slowly acclimate yourself to these risks so it becomes easier and easier to push yourself as a creative person. To live a creative life is ultimately a risk in and of itself, because there is no guarantee of any kind of pay off, nor will your intentions be understood and respected.

So know that taking risks is just part and parcel of living a creative life. But when you intentionally take one, it’s good because it can show your brain what you’re truly capable of.

008: Try new things.

You don’t have to be a one trick pony if you don’t want to be. You get to use your creative energy however you’d like, and I recommend trying new things as much as possible.

Whether you decide to try spoken word poetry or oil painting or photography or dance, find something that interests you and give yourself some space to try it.

If you’re a creative person, then you probably enjoy expressing yourself in multiple ways. And the more outlets you have for your creative energy, the more likely you are to stay in a creative mindset. When you hit a wall in one type of creative pursuit, you can simply move to another as a break from the first, while still staying in that creative headspace.

009: Stay up late for the conversations that matter.

This is weird, but stick with me.

You know how philosophical you can be late at night? Remember those times in college when you stayed up way late on a porch or balcony with someone, just sipping beer and chatting about really deep things?

Those are the conversations that matter.

It may seem like they’re not important, but the moments when you’re with someone, on the same wavelength with your guards down? That’s the sweet spot. And I feel like those are the spaces where creative thought is born.

I don’t have proof. But next time you’re up way past your bed time with someone you know and trust, see if you can make those deep conversations happen. You’ll be surprised about what they breed.

How Do You Live a Creative Life?

How do you make space for creativity in your life? What’s your favorite way to be creative? How do you keep your creative juices flowing?

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