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Riva Weinstein : Getting Creative @ Work

Part-Time Creativity

Getting Creative @ Work

By Riva Weinstein

It's a fact. Some careers have more creative allure than others. Industries like advertising, entertainment and fashion are fueled by creativity. But even creative jobs can put the kabash on individual creativity. And creative jobs can be poor stand ins for one's true passions. I've spent the better part of 20 years writing tv commercials and advertising. And I can say with some authority: it can be fabulous fun. And a complete creative drain.

So what to do when your job feels more like a creative straightjacket than an opportunity to soar? Or your office is a bastion of decidedly uncreative conventionality?

If misery loves company, joy loves it more. Are there others in your office, like you, who would love a little creative break? Could you organize a group lunch or after work get together? Even if all you can manage is coffee break conversation, connecting with others is one of the most important things you can do for yourself as an artist, writer, creative being. We all have a tendency to feel like we don't really belong — and the best way to counter that is to find people we really connect with.

Some offices have yoga classes for stress relief. Can you suggest an art or creativity class? Would you want to teach it, help organize it or just participate? When I worked as a freelance writer in the Aveda Creative Department, I volunteered to lead a recycled art workshop in conjunction with their Earth Month activities. It was great fun and low pressure because all the participants were co-workers and friends. I'd never taught in a corporate environment before so it was a good stretch for me.

Creativity needs down time and alone time. too. Is it possible to keep a small creative project in your desk drawer for lunch time dabbling? Knitting, mini water color sets, and colored pencils are easy to access and easy to stash.

Ask yourself: What kind of projects would be doable at work for me?

Could you keep an inspiring art book at work to look at during breaks for visual refreshment? Or visit a local bookstore or library for creative reads to keep you inspired?

What if you wait tables or work on the selling floor? Can you make up games that turn your day into a creative journey, the way children do with car trips?

If you're a mom at home with the kids, can you join in their finger painting play?

Are there museums or galleries near your office? A park or an interesting walk? A window with a spectacular view?

When I worked near LAX in Los Angeles, I took lunchtime walks and made small found object assemblages which I then hung on my cubicle walls. Working in New York's Soho, I treated myself to regular gallery visits. I realize these may seem like extraordinary circumstances, but anything that's in our usual every day experience seems ordinary until we look through our creative lens. And everything we do to nurture our creative souls during the work week is a bonus. Build them in slowly, in a way that feels comfortable and relaxed, so they become a part of your work routine with almost no effort at all. It can help to create a "go to" list, so you have prompts like these at your fingertips when you find yourself twiddling your thumbs.

Before you know it, inventive creative treats become an integral part of life. And more opportunities for creative diversion — or better yet, creative infusion — will present themselves. Once you've opened the door to creativity, it's hard to keep it shut. •

© Riva Weinstein 2010. All rights reserved.

Riva WeinsteinRiva Weinstein is a Kaizen Muse Certified Creativity Coach, an artist and author of Magic Medicine: Rx for Creativity. She inspires others on extraordinary creative journeys with every day experiences and materials. More »