What Exercise and Illness has Taught me About Creativity

creativity in wax - encaustic found object art - rebeccastahr.com

Creativity in Wax — Encaustic Found Object Art
© Rebecca J. Stahr

This morning I woke up to zero degree weather and a negative windchill. The wind was howling and my head was pounding. I had an appointment to exercise in the therapy pool and I was going through my head all the reasons I didn’t want to go. My head hurts, its cold out there, I have stuff to do. I almost talked myself out of it too. I got downstairs and halfway through the morning routine of getting my son ready for school I gave myself that proverbial kick in the pants. Five minutes I told myself, if you still don’t feel well after running for five minutes you can quit. I did end up running the entire half hour which I knew I would once I got there. The five minute trick is one I have forever used on myself as a runner. Whether it is showing up, or pushing myself on with just another five, it helps me to stay motivated on a goal that in the moment may feel like work but at the end gives me a sense of accomplishment and well-being.

What does this have to do with creativity? Everything, because half the battle is showing up when that inner-critic is trash talking in your head about why bother or you aren’t good enough or you don’t have time. None of those things are true and learning to ignore those little nasty thoughts with just five minutes of showing up will help to banish them. If you stop after the first five, so what, you were there and you created. Creating that routine with help it become a habit and once a habit starts it will grow.

What do you use to motivate yourself when you don’t feel up to creating?

5 thoughts on “What Exercise and Illness has Taught me About Creativity

  1. What a great mental trick to push yourself! When I try to come up with reasons not to write, I make myself read the last thing I wrote, or one of my stories that I really love. That makes me want to keep going. We all need those tricks to banish those voices that say “I’m not good enough”, “I don’t feel like it”, “I should be doing something else”.


    • I like your trick of going over previous work. It’s almost like having a “smile” file where you keep nice letters and notes from people. For me, sometimes all I have to do is pick up the pencil (or whatever) and let it happen. The ideas from the previous session start flowing back through.


  2. I believe it was Woody Allen who said ‘80% of success is showing up’. I think just picking up a pencil and beginning to doodle is ‘showing up’ and not being too attached to the outcome is always a good start for me.


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