sparkles jar

The Inkpots creative jar exercise

A few years ago, I developed a tool to help measure how we were feeling creatively, and showed if we needed a boost.

Imagine an old-fashioned sweet jar – the ones with the screw tops. Filled with pineapple chunks, rhubarb and custards, pear drops, cinnamon twists. The delights of childhood.

This is a good way of thinking about creativity. Instead of sweets, think about creative experiences – talking about books with friends, a visit to the theatre, a lovely notebook, or a favourite song for example.

The ideal level for the jar is for it to be almost full, with just a gap left for air so that the contents can breathe.

If your creative jar is full, you’ll know exactly how that feels.

Fulfilled, energised, calm, relaxed.

But for many people, their jars are dangerously empty – right down to the bottom, where the broken sweets have congealed.

The result is a feeling of emptiness, being dried out, a hollow husk of yourself.

The real danger of the empty creative jar is that, without care and the right support, it can become filled with the wrong things like negative thoughts or addictive behaviour.

Time is also a great threat to the creative jar. As is a lack of belief in our own creativity.

Before Covid, it felt as if there was actually another pandemic – one to do with young people’s anxiety levels. Young people I had known for years were suddenly talking about panic attacks, meltdowns, and triggers. The creative jar exercise helped them to understand their own needs and how to start supporting themselves.

If we needed something in 2019, how much more do we need it now in 2021?

Creativity is needed now more than ever.

Because of the pandemic, the numbers of people finding solace in creative activities has soared. But as we slowly emerge on the other side, the danger is it will become neglected again as many of us return to over-busy lives.

For our young people though, it is imperative we help them understand how important their own creativity is. A recent poll among our students has shown how worried they are about the world opening up – having to negotiate friendship issues and exam stress, as well as concerns about how unfair and prejudiced the world is.

Without balance – without the jar being at a healthy level – thigs can start to go wrong.

Things we may start or stop which indicate the creative jar is getting empty


*Grazing for food

*Scrolling through social media

*Thinking we are rubbish

*Obsessing about other’s achievements




*Keeping to routines

*Believing that you have an opinion which is worthy

*Sleeping properly

*Eating well

*Talking about feelings.

The reality is that in the current climate we:

*have little security

*have no road map

*are under pressure from social media in so many ways

*need some stars to steer by.

The creative jar exercise is a simple but effective one. Have a think about the levels in your own creative jar and what you can do to get them to the point which feels great for you. Use it to spark conversations, and review how you really want to emerge from lockdowns.

If you feel your jar is getting too low, do you have a couple of small activities which could bring the level up quickly and easily?

We have a PDF which you can download if that helps with the exercise. Click HERE

Please do contact me if you have any queries. I would also love to hear any thoughts you have if you use the tool.


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