Creative Consistency to increase Creative Capacity

by Nina Meehan

Recently, my eleven year old decided to start journaling. He had never journaled before, but he was chatting with me about all the thoughts that he had in his head and how they sometimes can get stuck. I suggested that he could write them all down and that might feel good. I have not been a regular journal-er for a while, but in the interest of supporting him, I told him that I would journal as well.  So, a few weeks ago, I picked him up from school and went to find the right journal. 

Since then, we have both been journaling daily.  He has chosen to do five minutes before bed and five minutes when he first wakes up and I am writing before bed every night for about ten minutes. 

When I think about living a creative life, one of the challenges that I find for myself and that I hear from others is the concept of time pressure. I don’t have TIME to add more things into my day. But, I wonder how much of that time scarcity is less about actual time–most of us find time to scroll Instagram or watch the latest episode of “Love is Blind”–and is more about Creative Capacity. By Creative Capacity, I mean our ability to have new ideas, identify original thoughts, come up with novel activities. That time scarcity might be our way of protecting ourselves because our Creative Capacity is low, so we are scared that it will just tax our minds too much to have to come up with one more new idea. 

That’s where this journaling thing has really drawn my attention because the more that I have journaled daily, the easier it is to put pen to paper and write. The first few nights, I had that hurdle of the “blank page” to overcome. I thought it mattered what I wrote down and I stressed myself out trying to make it “meaningful.” It took cognitive power to come up with an idea or search my brain for what wanted to come out.  But the more that I did it, the easier that barrier to entry became. The words flowed more smoothly. The ideas were just there, I didn’t have to search to find them. My Creative Capacity increased because of Creative Consistency. 

Creative Consistency means that we embark on a creative process with regularity. The same way that when we go to the gym three days per week, lifting weights feels achievable, but when we only go sporadically, every time feels hard. If we choose to do something small every day with our creative superpowers–a mini painting, a doodle board, sing along to one song, dance for three minutes, journal before bed–that Creative Consistency gives us the lubrication to increase our Creative Capacity because our minds and bodies are primed and ready to go!

This article first published in The Piedmont Post April 10, 2023.