In this Creativity Exercises That Work series, which will run right through to the end of the year, creativity coaches share creativity exercises that they have used with clients to help clients effectively handle their creative process issues, creative personality issues, and creative career issues. This week’s exercise is provided by Nefeli Soteriou. Enjoy!
Title: Relaxed, Determined, Forward
By Nefeli Soteriou
Description: Relaxed, Determined, Forward is a useful exercise designed to empower you to successfully undertake the task of revisiting your material. I encourage you to consider trying this exercise whatever your artistic medium. Relaxed, Determined, Forward has proven valuable to clients of mine who need to accelerate their productivity and take their work from where it is to the next level.
Imagine your creative zone as a red cotton string dangling below your navel. As life progresses, knots may be formed, resulting in an uncomfortable tightening around your waist. One knot is perhaps that you are physically exhausted; your day job is demanding, as well as your other responsibilities at home. You jot ideas down on your smart-phone and you take writing classes to improve, however you can’t find the time to realize a further edit. In the following weeks, you may think that what you wrote is too old and that it would be better if you drafted something new. You start to write again, which means that you haven’t effectively used what you’ve already written. As months go by, another knot is added, the one of disappointment. Your writer friend calls to share that her book is published and there you are, not being able to decide which scenes to arrange for a cold reading with actors.
Designed with a focus on mindfulness, Relaxed, Determined, Forward guides you to reach your desired goal and revisit your existing writing material. Through the exercise, you are reminded of the significance of self-care, how to relax in physical discomfort, how to cut off inhibiting thoughts, and how to take your creative work to the next step forward.
For the most part, things don’t simply happen in life. We create them. We manage life stressors best when we tenderly care for our body and select a home environment just right for us that nurtures our wellbeing. Regardless of your age, know that it is possible to manage day-to-day work and responsibilities at home with more ease, as you nourish yourself with foods that are easy to digest, non-processed and mainly plant-based. Drink clean water; leave electronics out of the bedroom. Walk in your neighborhood twenty minutes three to five times a week, or find one recreational activity you really love and stick to it.
Love your brain and feed it healthy fats like avocados and Omega 3’s, treat it with dark chocolate, work it with new learning and coordination activities, and minimize alcohol intake and other chemical substances, for example synthetic pills. Start every day with intention, gratitude and appreciation.
What might help you unwind after work? Is it a mutual agreement with a partner not to talk for the first thirty minutes after you reach home? Quickly shower, to rid yourself of work smells? Change to comfortable clothes? Write an appreciation card? You might mark down the three major benefits your day job brings you, for example, “it pays the bills”, “retirement savings”, and “allows vacation time.” Keep the card in your wallet and when you have a frustrating workday pull it out and read it out loud.
Who is your support system? Prioritize your time so that you mingle with caring individuals who have self-respect and also respect for others.
Creating fills your heart with joy and lights you up! You spend at least twenty minutes daily creating. You utilize lunch breaks to write, during a hands-free commute, or with your morning tea. You have an open mind to continue pushing through and even increase your allocated work time in the near future.
Truth to be told, some days are better than others. Should you break your commitment to yourself, work on refraining from judgment and simply start again the next day! Sticking to this habit makes all the difference in the long haul.
List everything you wrote and have not revisited yet, from screenplay scenes, short or long stories, dialogue snippets, or screenplay characters you developed. Highlight one or two that you aim to revise. Then proceed and open the first document.
During this time, you may face real distractions. Sign-out from e-mail accounts, chat apps, social media and web browsers. Turn off the phone, the TV, and put on your favorite music if it helps you write. Lean back. Bring awareness to the moment and observe your breathing, take deep breaths in from your nose and slowly exhale from your mouth.
You may also encounter harsh discouraging thoughts. They can even make you question whether your own material is worth being seen by anyone. Know that thoughts are nothing but thin air. With that clarity in mind you can return to your writing. You may also want to complete the following mini-exercise when these hindering patterns interfere:
1. Is the thought I just observed really true?
2. What do I really want to feel right now?
3. What I m I willing to do to complete my writing task?
As you become more relaxed and more present, writing and revising becomes a manageable routine.
Should you encounter other physical discomfort such as sweating palms, or a heart rate increase, there is no need to feel disheartened. Continue working on naturally calming yourself down with deep breathing inhalations and exhalations for five to seven minutes. Repetition is your ally. Complete your breathing exercises and try again the next day. Consider setting a timer for starting and ending your creative work. Also, refrain from getting up from your chair until the timer is up.
By taking determined action and refining your steps each time you encounter challenges, you will succeed. You untangle creativity knots one at a time, as you mindfully nurture your needs. Change your state of mind by acknowledging your thoughts. In due time you will reap wonderful results from your efforts.
Nefeli Soteriou loves nature, exercise, and self-expression through art, adores animals, is interested in complimentary medicine, produces indie narrative films and photography projects, holds an M.F.A in Film and Media Arts, and is a Creativity Coach and a NYS Holistic Counselor. If you’d like to learn more about Nefelis’s work as a coach, visit: https://www.nefelisoteriou.com