I think we as human beings crave creativity. We want to do things with our hands, our minds, and our bodies that demand absolute self-expression. The building of something out of nothing. The form we take to create that something, though, is up to the individual. Curiosity plays a huge role in living a creative life because it lights the spark of creativity. Habit is the fuel feeding the spark.
My family has many interests (so many that I’m turning the garage into an art/wood working studio just for them). For me, however, nothing captivates my sense of curiosity and sparks my desire to be creative like writing. If I’m writing everyday, then habit is keeping me aflame. If I yield to self-criticism, doubt, worry over what others think, and fear of failure, then creativity is snuffed out.
Perhaps I’m the only one that is affected by doubt and fear, but if not, here are a few things I’m trying to keep from losing my creative spark:
1. ACCEPT. A first go at something is never going look perfect but it is going to be perfect because all it has to do is exist outside of your imagination to be what it is supposed to be. Art is handmade and missteps are proof it is a one of a kind (yes, even drafts count here).
2. SCRAP BOOK. Now, I don’t like scrapbooking, but I do keep efiles of pictures and journals with quotes, notes, research, ticket stubs, and whatever else could potentially ignite ideas. No judging ever takes place in the journals because all it has to do is put my cluttered ideas somewhere other than in my brain where I might forget. They are something visually before me whenever I want them.
3. DROP IT. Make sure your chosen form of creative expression is interesting to you. If it’s not, drop the project. (For example, I just said I don’t like scrap booking, but I did try it. All those cute little stamps I ended up being donated to my sister to make room for things I do find interesting.) Make space physically and mentally for outlets you truly find fascinating. Life is too short to do otherwise.
4. USE YOUR FRIENDS/FAMILY. Some of you know my mom has terminal cancer and on bad days there are few things she feels up to doing. But she can type a poem! So we exchange poetry (nearly) every day. The goal is to not edit it but rather send it out to each other as is—first draft—warts and all. Knowing they are rough helps us lower our expectations as to how good the poetry will be. The other benefit? It has been a sweet and strengthening thing we could do together. The miles don’t seem as far between us when we are speaking to each other’s souls with poetry.
5. FAIL SPECTACULARLY. When learning a new creative craft, there is usually a huge curve. In that curve are dips that look like failure. But we can grow from these “failures”! And if we acknowledge it as par for the course, we can be more lighthearted about it as it comes. (Also, the sting from rejections won’t hurt as bad when we know we are growing from them.)
6. BUY SUPPLIES. Once you are sure what truly fascinates you, get the supplies. My kiddos love every new unit in their art class because they get to browse the supply store. Make sure, though, you don’t buy things just to buy things. And when you do need to buy supplies, do it right before you start the project. Buying things you don’t end up using will zap your creativity with anxiety because it will be a constant reminder of a project you didn’t follow through with. So buy needful things for creativity only. (I also buy books on the topics and on creativity itself*.)
Living a creative life is so rewarding when we are true to ourselves and what brings us fulfillment. Once we find those special things, building them into our lives habitually keeps them just as fresh as if they were a new-found interest.
Q4U: What kinds of things bring creative fulfillment into your life? Or What are some creative activities you would like to work into your life someday? (Cycling and getting back to the piano and violin top my list!)
*Some great books on creativity:
Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland
The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
Also, we have WINNERS of the signed books!