Getting sober can be surprisingly inspirational for artistic creativity. Here are 7 tips for clean creativity.
There is a dangerous myth that alcohol and drugs are the gateway to boundless creativity. In response to this, I urge you to take a hard look at Ernest Hemingway, Vincent Van Gogh, Kurt Cobain, Elvis Presley and Amy Winehouse. Substance abuse stole the lives of these prolific legends and forever slammed the gates on their creative drive. I don’t want you to suffer the same fate. With these seven strategies, your creativity can thrive freely without being crushed beneath the brutal fallout of substance abuse.
Drugs and alcohol release feel-good dopamine and other neurotransmitters that fill you with a rush of misguided assurance in your own creativity. This temp confidence may propel you to produce, but it’s a surefire way to crash and burn. Fortunately, exercise releases these empowering neurotransmitters too. So reach for your sneakers instead of a quick fix. Lift weights at the gym, run on a local track, walk the dog or clean the house. It’ll churn those creative juices and safely lift your confidence in all aspects of life.
Fresh Air and Sunshine
Instead of sitting in a stuffy studio, open the windows and let the fresh air in. It rejuvenates your mind and sweeps away mental blocks. I’m also a big fan of sunshine. It boosts your vitamin D levels, which reduces depression and helps you feel more positive about life. Think of creativity like a plant; it will blossom if you nourish it with sunny rays, ample water and clean air.
Temptations, distractions, or stress may hinder your creativity. Meditation will clear and freshen the mind into an inviting blank canvas for creative work. Breathing meditation, yoga, or tai chi relax your body and soothe your emotions so that you can mull over ideas calmly and deeply. Keep in mind that meditation can happen anywhere; taking a shower, going for a walk and doodling are all dynamic ways to compose your thoughts.
Like many therapists, I recommend journaling exercises, including music writing and doodling, to recovering addicts. After all, a journal is a beneficial tool that invites you to express your thoughts, detail your addiction triggers, work through emotions, and track your recovery progress. When you feel stuck, grab your journal and write. Just spill out anything bouncing around in your head. It’s a wonderful, proactive way to purge out mental clutter and quilt together brilliant ideas.
You can’t make something out of nothing. If you find yourself drawing blanks, it may be because you’re denying yourself mental stimulation and reprieve. I urge you to play; just as children discover the world through play, adults discover creative possibilities. Toss the ball to your dog, ride bikes with your kids, visit a museum, play basketball, or grab a cup of coffee. You never know when inspiration will strike while immersed in the dazzling, colorful world.
Change Your Workplace
You can use all kinds of tricks to train your brain to focus, but sometimes, you simply need a change in scenery. Carry your easel to the park, bring your computer to the library, or play your guitar in the kitchen. You could also write with crayons instead of a pencil, rearrange your studio, or sit in a different chair. You’ll make fresh connections and explore new perspectives if you shake things up.
Listen to or Read Other People’s Work
Everyone knows that plagiarism is off-limits. However, there’s no shame in admiring the talents of others. That’s why I encourage you to grab a CD, read a book of poetry, or flip through an artist’s portfolio. It’s natural for us to draw inspiration from others and explore other creative ventures as springboards for our own.
I hope my seven tips have convinced you can strive confidently towards creative expression without venturing into the treacherous territory of drugs and alcohol. I can’t deny that you may still stumble into creative pits, but you’ll be able to learn from them and get back on your feet without a substance weighing you down.
Photo by: Sean MacEntee (Flickr)