"Art is never finished, only abandoned." — Leonardo da Vinci
As a full-time yogi, teacher, and creative talent with a professional background in graphic design, I can confidently share with you that the yoga practice and the creative process have many things in common. In yoga, sometimes handstands come with ease and grace; other times, I feel like a sack of potatoes. The creative process is pretty much the same: Some days the spark, colors, and bright ideas just flow, and other days it's like hitting my head against a wall.
Both yoga and creativity are a practice, and having some tools in the back pocket to help when we need a lift (literal and metaphorical) can be useful. So, whether you're taking on your next creative project or just in need of a little mind space for some originality, I'm sharing with you a tried and true process I use to break through any blocks I may be experiencing.
Here's your six-step plan to get you to your next creative level:
1. Create a dedicated space.
Whether it's in your home office or work environment, mark off an area you know you can return to when it's time to step into the think-tank mode. Just like you know the bed is for, er, two things? Your dedicated creative space triggers your mind, with practice, that it's time to step into the inspirational zone.
2. Get clean and clear.
Begin clearing out your workspace, throwing away any unnecessary papers, documents, trash, clutter, coffee mugs, wrappers, old mail, or whatever might be unrelated and taking up room in your dedicated space. I'm a big believer that a clean home and workspace is like a clear mind—you can see emotions and thoughts with greater truth when it's free from doubt, unnecessary weight, and obscurity. Same goes for your space, offering greater definition, intelligence, and articulate expression without the junk.
3. Collect, or fill, your space with inspiration.
Place things in your space that create curiosity and surprise, such as mantras, quotes, colors, art, or an inspiration board. Every time you find an image or a thing that sparks inspiration in you, tack it to this board. Remember, this board doesn't have to be a physical one on your wall either (although you may find the visual useful); Pinterest, Evernote, and many other apps can offer technological versions as well.
4. Just do it!
Remember that time when you didn't want to work out or practice yoga? But then you started and didn't stop for the next hour? Yes, your creative mind and work process can be like that too.
Write out your first draft of ideas and whatever initially comes to mind. It doesn't need to be complete sentences, accurate grammar, full paragraphs, or a completed design template. Just scratch the surface with whatever initial buzz is in your head about the project or topic. Getting started can be half the battle, but once you get rolling, the ideas may begin flowing with creativity and ease.
5. Switch up your space.
The momentum builds! But then the plateau comes. When that happens, there's nothing better than changing up your environment for some fresh energy. Some great, easy, and almost instant recommendations are to enjoy a walk, head to the beach, move your "office" to a coffee shop, take a yoga class, or head over to a bookstore for some different originality.
Giving your eyes something new to look at and getting your mind to switch gears can kick-start the process to the next level your project needs. If you're able to, my favorite way to change environments for inspiration is to travel (actually, I'm writing this article while on an airplane as I type, with no Wi-Fi for distractions).
6. Bring it all home.
Coming back to the project with a renewed mindset, you can see your work from a third-party perspective. What do you see? Does where you left off make any more sense? And what new steps can you implement to clarify your creativity? Don't be afraid to change what you've started, even if that means starting over or going back over steps 2 through 5—it's all part of your inspirational quest.
Creativity is a process, never an end result. And, like yoga, the more you can enjoy the process as a journey instead of reaching a destination, the more you'll find the output to be more passionate, fulfilling, and unique.