Words by Jacqueline Fisch // Images by Kay Warner
Like many kids, I was what you might call, “naturally creative.” Art was my favorite subject in school, my teachers and classmates admired my work, and I’d spend hours each day, sitting on my bedroom floor, back leaning up against my puffy purple bedspread, filling the blank pages of another heavyweight sketchbook with doodles and drawings.
When I was 10, my dream job was to become a rich and famous fashion designer and live in Paris. The first step should have been fashion school, but somewhere between Barbie dolls, watercolors, and charcoal, I decided fashion school was too expensive and difficult to get into. I didn’t even apply—instead, I went to college to get a business degree and a fancy corporate job that came with shapewear, pencil skirts, and patent-leather pumps.
"Creative" was a dirty word that I turned my nose up at—I had promotions to go after and fancy steak dinners to attend. I was serious, and I was an expert corporate ladder climber. I knew what to do and when to get to the next shiny level of whatever ladder I was climbing.
Art was for other people. People who didn’t make money. People who didn’t take life seriously, wore sandals, and had all the time in the world to sit around and play with paint all day.
A decade or so later, something shifted. I wasn’t necessarily even looking, but I decided to sign up for a local wine and paint night—wine was one of my favorite things, surely I could have some fun. Also, I had a Groupon.
While staring at the blank canvas, I was nervous. What if my painting sucked? Everyone in the bar will laugh at me. But once I took that first step of dipping the brush into the acrylic paint (and not my wine—a mistake I’d make on another occasion), a little fire came alive inside of me and I was hooked. Later that week I visited an art supply store and bought supplies to paint at home.
At the same time, I was feeling claustrophobic in my beige and gray office. I didn’t have any other ideas about what I wanted to “be” when I grew up so I figured I’d start bringing more of my creative side into the office. My director noticed. He said, “Something’s different about you, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.”
The difference: I was creating new creative habits to fuel a transformation that I didn’t know was happening.
It turns out paint and wine nights are still a fun way to unwind, but they didn’t become my career. In 2017, I hopped off the corporate ladder to write full time.
Here are some fun ways to use creativity to fuel your transformation journey—even if you don’t know the destination. Please use this list to inspire you and not as a checklist.
Commonly called “morning pages,” coined by author Julia Cameron of The Artist’s Way. They’re three full handwritten, unedited pages of whatever words come to mind first thing in the morning (or any time of day, really). The goal is to get the fog out of your brain so you can carry on with a clear head the rest of the day. You might be surprised what insights you didn’t even realize you were looking for.
ESTABLISH A MINDLESS MORNING ROUTINE
Your creative energy is your most valuable resource—and you want to preserve it. This means that each morning should look a lot like all the others. Design your morning routine so that it becomes a mindless habit that requires almost no thinking. For example, maybe you’ll wake up, stretch, make some tea, meditate, free-write, then shower.
MAKE SOMETHING BEFORE YOU CONSUME
This means turning off the news, email newsletters, and the early morning social media mindless scrolling to make something first instead. Whether that’s finishing an important presentation, designing a page on your website, doodling, writing a poem, or anything that calls for the use of your hands before you start reading anything.
CHOOSE ONE THING
Pick just one creative focus and see it to the finish line. Even if you have a dozen half-finished projects that had you feeling inspired at first, choose only one to direct your attention to, and finish it. All your other ideas will be there in your creative “waiting room” for you to pick up when you’re ready. Finished work will give you the confidence to finish one more thing, and one more thing—until your body of work continues to build.
Stretch your creative muscles and brain by trying something new. It should feel uncomfortable and awkward at first. If you’re a musician, try poetry, if you’re a painter, try dance. Whatever you try, aim to push yourself into new territory.
DO NOTHING AT ALL
Maybe the toughest and most underestimated of all creative things to do is nothing at all. In our world of constant movement, take delight in spending a few minutes every single day doing nothing. Just daydreaming.
Start by adding one new creative habit at a time. With patience and curiosity, you’ll peel back the layers of your personal onion, revealing a new level of transformation.
Here’s to a creative transformation on your terms.
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Jacqueline Fisch is a writer and writing coach for business owners who want to sound human. She helps them ditch the jargon so they can relate to and connect with their perfect clients using engaging online copy that sells.
Before launching her writing business, Jacqueline spent more than 13 years working in corporate communications and management consulting.
Jacqueline is passionate about helping entrepreneurs drop the fussy writing and jargon and instead communicate authentically, letting their personality shine through, and always in the simplest way possible.
Through her thought-provoking blog posts, ghostwriting projects, and in-person workshops, she’s here to show you how to write about your creative work to stand out and sell more—while making every step feel inappropriately fun.
Jacqueline lives near Chicago, Illinois, with her husband, two spirited little kids, and a small chicken farm.