Much has been said about substance use and creativity. A simple Google search will produce an abundance of studies and articles on the subject.
There is merit to the argument that drinking, for instance, to a point can loosen up the brain to think more creatively.
However, if you have issues with alcohol addiction or substance abuse in general, it is not worth whatever you could potentially gain from the use of substances while you engage in artistic pursuits.
For those of us who struggle with addiction, we need to look at other tools to help us be our most creative self. Here are 3 steps that anyone can take to live a more creative, sober life.
Just Create! The root word of creative is create, a verb, action. There is a well-travelled myth that creative inspiration comes from some source that has to be triggered. It does not.
To be creative, all you need to do is the doing. Your brain is not sitting around waiting for the perfect moment to release its magic.
And so, it is our task as creative beings to put pen to paper, brush to canvas, fingers to piano… you get the idea.
There is nothing outside of ourselves that will make us do the very thing that will bring us the joy that is experienced when we are in that rich, rewarding creation space.
And if you are thinking, “But to create I must suffer!” or “I need something to loosen me up to get started/when I hit a creative block,” then you are missing the whole point of creativity in the first place.
Yes, challenges and struggles often present themselves while engaged in the creative act. The next time you have one of those moments try stopping, taking a deep breath, and saying out loud, “Thank you for this opportunity.”
The opportunity is the discovery that is on the other side of the discomfort. If it helps, think of creative pain or blocks as doors to a new universe. The door is always unlocked. Open it and check out what is on the other side. I promise you, it is super awesome in there!
“But I don’t have the time to create!” On the contrary. You are taking the time to read this creative hack right now.
Before you go any further, set a timer for five minutes. Now, stop reading this post and do your thing. Pick up a brush and some paints, open your word processing program, go to that instrument, open your mouth and sing, start to dance – whatever it is, take five minutes right now and be the creative spirit you deserve to be.
Welcome back. Now, search online for programs or apps that help you plan your creative time. Google Goals is a tool that I have been using lately. It is great.
All I have to do is put in the amount of time I want to work on a project each week and it will find the best times on my calendar that works for me to get to work. Start with five minutes a week. An hour a week. Whatever works for you.
Keep it manageable. The amount of time you spend on being creative does not matter. All that matters is that you regularly give yourself this gift. You deserve it!
Join a creative/writing group. There are a plethora of options. Perhaps there is a sober writing group in your community.
Or if you would rather stay cozied up at home, there are some great writing communities online. Check out this article for some options: Authorspublish
Why do you create in the first place? Is it for your mental health, career development, a way to give to others, to address social ills in the world, to blow off steam?
Try journaling your answers to this question. While you are journaling, try answering this question as well: What leads you to want to consume substances in the first place? If it helps, try to turn these reflections into artwork. You never know what you might learn about yourself by trying this.
In conclusion, whatever you do – create or not, don’t judge yourself! We have learned a lot about addictions of all kinds in recent decades.
There is no shame in addiction. It is a reality that millions of us struggle with every day. What matters is continuing to take steps towards managing addiction.
And if your creative pursuits bring you joy, then create! Ask yourself, “What brings me joy?” And as long as the answer is something that does not cause harm to you or others – do it! You deserve every happiness that life has to offer.