How To Develop a Creative Mindset

If you couldn’t tell from that title, today’s post will be on the woo-woo side.

Hopefully you’re ok with that.

Quite honestly, I know a couple of years ago I would have looked at that title and thought “Screw that, gimme 10 ways to get more t-shirt sales!”

But I’ve come to see that there’s a fair bit of work we can do, all up in our noggin, that ultimately leads to the tangible goods. The success, the sales, the security of having cash in the bank.

When you develop a creative mindset, real tangible things start to happen. This post proves how simple it is to start making shift happen TODAY.

When you develop a creative mindset, real tangible things start to happen. This post proves how simple it is to start making shift happen TODAY.When you develop a creative mindset, real tangible things start to happen. This post proves how simple it is to start making shift happen TODAY.

That work though? That’s what I mean by learning how to develop a creative mindset.

So, let’s start by getting the semantics out of the way.

‘Creative’

This is a term that’s as fuzzy as Bumblelion’s behind, but I’ll keep it brief for the sake of this post. I’m talking about bringing something new into the world, fuelled by your imagination.

Examples: painting a picture, writing a song, starting a business.

‘Mindset’

The attitudes and perspectives you hold, regarding yourself and others and the world around you.

Examples: I’m bad at playing football, I’m good at spelling, he’s a twat, she’s really lucky.

Now we’ve got that out of the way…

Why does it even matter whether we have a creative mindset or not?

For one, having a creative mindset, allows you to do more of what you love with less effort, and less resistance.

We know how it feels to stare at a blank page or canvas or text editor… and feel various levels of HOLY CRAP.

Like…

HOLY CRAP I have no idea what to do next

or

HOLY CRAP how am I ever going to finish this

or

HOLY CRAP everything I do STINKS

and so on.

These are all uncreative mindsets.

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These are all the thoughts I’ve had, and do pop up occasionally but – importantly – have learned to shift as I’ve learned to develop a creative mindset.

When I started to go from ‘Negative Nelly‘ (my last name’s Neligan, and this nickname has stuck like gum) to ‘Can Do Cat‘, everything else – those tangible things – followed.

Clients I hadn’t heard from started getting in touch with new projects.

Sales from my online shop started picking up.

Enquiries came in for pet portrait commissions.

The buses started to run on time and the birds were singing and there were rainbows and candyfloss and…

Ok, I went too far, but you get the pretty picture.

Shit shifts when your MINDSET shifts.

And the cool thing is: it doesn’t cost anything to do this!

Other than spending some time, and a pinch of willpower to keep it up, and at some point that investment starts paying out.

Ok, let’s get down to business…

3 Tips for Developing a Creative Mindset

How to develop a creative mindset

Step 1: Identify those Negative Nelly thoughts

The problem with the uncreative mindset is that it’s hard to actually see those limiting beliefs when we’re experiencing them.

Like, when you’re in the midst of a foggy day, you don’t look down and see the fog swirl around you. It’s obscuring the trees 10 feet in front of you, but you can see your feet.

Stepping out of that fog altogether is the part we need to develop.

The shortest path to doing that, or certainly the most effective, is mindfulness meditation.

Yes, mindfulness and all that jazz is definitely in vogue right now, and regardless of how much cashing in on this ancient practise might grind your gears, it’s hard to deny that this. stuff. works.

Specifically, we’re talking Vipassana meditation. The result being: transforming your mind, through simple observation of your thoughts.

If you aren’t already ‘into’ meditation, I recommend trying one of these options:

Calm app

When I’m finding myself slacking on my meditation practise, I return to the ‘2 minute rule’: I just tell myself I only have to meditate for 2 minutes, and I’ve done my bit for the day.

99% of the time, I’ll stick it out for longer than 2 minutes.

But it’s setting the bar so low that I can’t fail or talk myself out of it, that turns it into a habit.

Over time, watching my thoughts, especially the negative ones, becomes automatic: I can notice myself wanting to step on the heels of the slow walker in front of me, or dropkick members of my new community (seagulls.)

I can take a step back, and stop myself in my tracks before I go down that negative road.

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Step 2: Affirm Can-Do Cat thoughts

Ok, switch out your name for ‘Cat’, obviously, but try this one out.

This is how you start reprogramming your mindset, and developing those thoughts that will allow you to do the things that previously seemed too hard, unrealistic or even impossible.

For real. The fact that I’ve conjured up the guts to speak on a podcast, and to get on a stage in front of actual real live people, purely from these mindset shifts is my only evidence, but hopefully you’ll try it yourself and see if I’m full of horsepoop or not.

I used to turn my nose up when I hear the word affirmation, thinking it was some kind of hocus pocus stuff that would put me in a nut house, if I told anyone I was practising them.

But all affirmations are, are little phrases that strengthen and support our beliefs.

Our minds are like putty: we can shape them a fair amount with enough squidging and squeezing in the right places. Affirmations help us do that.

So, with that, I will say that picking ones that mean something to you is key.

Like, if you see a motivational quote on Pinterest or Instagram and you want to barf: don’t pick that one.

Go for ones that resonate with you; that support any thoughts that you want to develop, and believe with your whole heart.

15 quotes for more confidence than Kanye!

For me, this floats my boat.

I like to take whatever negative thoughts I’m experiencing, and flip them on their head. That positive thought ends up displacing that neggy one. Makes sense, right?

Then it’s just a matter of repeating it. Over and over until it becomes second nature, like: “DUH. OF COURSE I rock at {insert your creative process}”

I like to do my repetitions pretty much first thing in the morning as part of my morning routine. Ideally out loud, but it took some time to work up to that, so I recommend starting with in your head.

I focus on one a day, and usually repeat that for the week before moving on to a new one. Or I stick with it for longer if I feel it needs more time to engrain itself.

You can repeat it for as long as you want, but honestly I usually just say it 3 times over, with as much conviction as I can muster, an that seems to do the job.

Step 3: Make it a habit

All of this is good and well when you do it with gusto tomorrow morning.

And the day after, because hey, you’re one a roll.

But by the time Friday comes around? I’ll bet your behind you’ll either forget, or decide that it was a silly idea in the first place and start scrolling through Instagram.

Honestly, the only way to make any of this work and see some real-world changes start happening, is to keep it up.

I kind of despise the word ‘consistency’ because it feels all-or-nothing to me.

Like, if I miss one day I might as well throw in the towel.

Ugh! No.

you’re not getting off that easy.

I’m all about PERsistency. Keeping it up, returning to your practise, whether it’s your 2 minutes of meditation and 1 repetition of your affirmation, or more.

Just keep coming back to it, ideally daily, but to not give up if you miss a day. Or two. Or a freakin week! It’s never too late just to pick it back up, and get that creative mindset going again.


Now if all this mindset jibber jabber floats your boat – or, even if you’re not convinced – actually ESPECIALLY if you’re not convinced: I recommend you join in on my FREE 4-day Bootcamp.

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The aim is to get you to a point where you’re equipped with the skills needed to get your art out into the world, and get it the exposure it deserves.

You’ll get 4 days of video training from yours truly, delivered straight to your inbox.

All for free!


Tell me, do you practise mindfulness meditation to develop a creative mindset?
Ever tried positive affirmations?
Let me know in the comments below, or hit me up on the Twitters @creativeintro for any suggestions you have!