How to Survive El Niño as a Creative

Photo cred: Marc Johns

Photo Cred: Marc Johns (My Favorite)

Well, El Niño 2017 has finally arrived. Cue the hysteria. Los Angeles is really great about handling a lot of things — celebrity scandals, record heat waves, organic food trends. Sadly, rain is not one of them. Drivers become paralyzed and erratic, street corners immediately flood, and everyone realizes they don’t own the equipment needed to elegantly navigate the downpour (umbrellas, hats, waterproof jackets and shoes). If you’re a creative though, El Niño might just be the catalyst you’ve been waiting for to hunker down and finish that book, song, blog post, design project, DIY fest, and beyond.

Here are Write In Color’s Top 5 Tips for Thriving as a Creative During El Niño 2016:

1. Don’t use your phone while driving

This is a good rule of thumb all the time, but especially when it’s raining. Instead of checking your text/email, reading the news or talking to friends about how bad the traffic is, reconnect with your sixteen-year-old self and listen to music instead. That’s right: turn up the radio, stream an album via Bluetooth, or gasp, put in one of your vintage CDs. Music is not only soothing for your nerves when navigating potholes, floods and inept drivers, it also unlocks your creativity and ability to think abstractly. If you’re suffering from creator’s block, music is going to help. I promise.

2. Stay in if you can help it

Not only will staying in keep you dry, it also may force you to face the creative project you’ve been putting off by running errands, going to dinner with friends, or hiding at the gym. El Niño is a great incentive for staying in. Light the fireplace, put on the music (see note 1 above, it helps!) and pull out your notebook, laptop, sketchbook etc. and create (like I’m doing right now by writing this post, sans fireplace sadly).

3. Go to a museum

Okay, this is in direct contradiction to point 2, but if you are going to brave the rain, go somewhere full of inspiration and without digital screens. Los Angeles has an incredible wealth of museums, including the recently opened Broad Museum in Downtown LA. An added bonus of this modern art mecca? It’s free. Forever. (Thank you Eli Broad.)

4. Meditate

This is probably going to be a buzzword you here throughout 2016: meditate. The Wall Street Journal even did a piece on it this past week, describing different meditation apps and devices that have sprung up lately that promise to use tech to deliver us to the mindful promise land. I don’t think you need an app to accomplish this. Find a quiet spot where you can commit ten to twenty minutes to being in the moment. How many minutes do you currently go away from a screen (when you’re conscious, that is). For me, the answer is probably twenty or thirty (max) and that’s only because I have kids who demand it of me. Otherwise, the answer would likely be 2 to 3 minutes. Meditation will improve your  mental clarity, focus, and intuition, which are all catalysts for creativity.

5. Give in to your melancholy

Rain makes us sad, right? Well that’s apparently a good thing for us creatives. According to research detailed on Wired (read it in full, it is fascinating) feeling sad makes us more creative. We’ve all subconsciously known this (great art is often the result of heartbreak) but now thanks to this research we know why. Sadness apparently makes us more attentive, focused, and diligent. All necessary elements of creative genius.

“In a survey led by the neuroscientist Nancy Andreasen, several dozen writers from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop were interviewed about their mental history. Eighty percent of the writers met the formal diagnostic criteria for some form of depression. A similar theme emerged from biographical studies of British writers and artists by Kay Redfield Jamison, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, who found that successful individuals were eight times as likely as people in the general population to suffer from major depressive illness.”

So instead of loathing El Niño 2017, let’s embrace it. It’s fueling our creativity just like it’s quenching our drought-riddled state. That’s a win-win.

For more from Marc Johns, my favorite artist, check out his site: www.marcjohns.com. For this piece specifically, click here.

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