Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cementing the creativity habit

"2011 probably won’t be the year I lose weight," writes fellow blogger and BBEST member Myfanwy Hart in her blog, Chittle Chattle. "2011 will be the best that I can make it, and the best that I can make it for people around me. I’ve joined up to the ‘post a day’, so I’m hoping it will also be the best blogging year too. (All I need now are some readers)," Myfanwy concludes.

I must admit that I feel very much the same. Though weight loss is always a goal of mine (after all, I am a WeightWatchers® Online member), I have decided it's not the end of the world if every day is not a perfect day. And this applies to other areas of my life, too. If I have any resolution at all in 2011, it is to balance family, volunteering and creativity—to create a saner year than the previous one by investing more time in creative pursuits, which definitely took third place last year.

"Be creative, in your own way, every single day," writes Danielle, Etsy's Seller Education Coordinator in Fearless Creativity. "Schedule it. Make yourself. Sounds boring and counterintuitive, but you’ll never live up to your full creative potential without practice."

Creativity, like any other pursuit, must be practiced on a regular basis in order for it to be productive. Noah Scalin, the author of 365: A Creativity Journal: Make Something Every Day and Change Your Life!, writes, "A daily project is like a marathon. It's a ridiculously daunting task, but making an original creation every day gives you an incredible sense of accomplishment. It also forces you to push beyond your mental and physical barriers (especially the ones you've erected for yourself). You'll be amazed at what you produce and what you learn about yourself in the process."

If you have ever read Julia Cameron's books about creativity, then you are probably also familiar with her daily writing exercise known as "morning pages." Every day, a writer takes 20 to 30 minutes out of the day to write three pages non-stop, without editorializing, about anything that comes to mind. This practice exercise has a way of opening the creative floodgates for any artist, not just writers. In fact, it is the act of regularity itself (which in some ways sounds like it is the opposite of innovation) that cements the creativity habit. And there are many ways in which you can practice the habit of creativity, whether it's daily, weekly or monthly. To do so as successfully as you can, keep the following five tips in mind:

  • Make it bite-size. Instead of vowing to take on an enormous, mind-boggling project, break the project down into manageable chunks of time. If all you have of uninterrupted time is 10 or 15 minutes, make those minutes work for you. Ahead of time, organize your tools and materials so that you can be as efficient as possible during the time you have. "Usually there are just a few minutes here or there—10, 20, or 30 minutes, maybe—if I'm really lucky," writes television host Nancy Zieman of Sewing With Nancy in her book, 10-20-30 Minutes to Sew. "These precious minutes are a dose of sanity in a far too hectic world," she adds. A little bit of planning, in other words, can go a long way.

 
  • Keep it fresh. Learn something new all the time. Challenge yourself to tackle the unexpected. If sculpture is your strength, try writing a poem. Take a sketching class down at the local art center, learn how to make a bracelet at a bead shop, or pick up a book at the library to teach yourself macrame. The point is to expose yourself to new outlooks and approaches. You never know what new ideas will emerge and spill over into other areas in which you are already creative. Liv of The Filigree Garden on Etsy, for example, has been taking weaving lessons, even though on Etsy she is known as a talented jewelry designer. You can read about her weaving adventures on her blog, The Filigree Garden. When Pat O'Neill originally opened a shop on Etsy as Precious Quilts, her interest was in needlework and sewing, but as she explored different forms of art, color and texture, she encountered encaustic painting. This became her new passion, leading to a new shop on Etsy called Art in the Wax. Keep in mind that yesterday's so-called errors may become tomorrow's innovative inventions.
 
Is it a scarf or..., by Olivia Herbert

 

  • Make yourself accountable. Join a group and report back to members, blog about your progress, or keep a creativity journal. Kym of Fabric Fascination, for example, started the 52 Weeks Challenge, which involves group members posting links to photos of completed projects. "Challenges are always more fun when you have company," writes Kym. If you conduct a Google search using the phrases "create every day" or "creative challenge," in fact, you will find many similar group efforts. My own week's contribution to this challenge is shown below.
 Black Crochet Scarf, by Judy Nolan
  • Build on a theme, and play with it. Do you feel like you're at a creative standstill? Then experiment with themes related to shape, color, or even the materials with which you work. Ask yourself what if, how can I, and why not questions. For example, a potter might ask herself how she can use the same shape in different ways. Ceci of Artsielady does this successfully with leaf shapes, producing such items as leaf tea bag holders, nested leaf plates, and a leaf candy dish.

 

  • Don't try to be perfect. Thomas Edison, who invented the light bulb after many so-called failed attempts, said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." This is the attitude with which you should approach creative endeavors. Treat every artistic experiment as a learning experience. Keep a log book of ideas and creative journeys, learn from everything, good and bad, and move forward. Myfanwy of Sassa Lynne, for example, keeps meticulous records of all her dyeing experiments, which you can read about in her blog, Nuvo Felt. Through experimentation, in fact, Myfanwy develops one-of-a-kind dyed threads that she calls her "Serenpidity" collection and which form the basis of her shop.
 
Dyeing Records of Myfanwy Hart


Other creative challenge sites that may interest you include:
© 2011 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved. Please note that the images in this post are owned by the artists and may not be used without permission. Simultaneously published at http://www.judy-nolan.com.

10 comments:

Asianexpressions said...

Wondeful blog post! Thank you!

nuvofelt said...

Judy, what an interesting post. I've kept up with the challenge so far, but you've actually given me another way to look at it today. Thanks so much.

ZudaGay said...

Wow! This is so helpful, Judy and I think I will resolve to be more creative this year. Thank you so much for sharing your research and encouragement with us!

Cariadclay said...

Lovely post :) x

Linda Pruitt said...

Awesome post!!!! So much good information! WOW! And thanks for featuring my red and gold destash item!

Sixsisters said...

Great post Judy. Loved seeing all of the great work everyone is doing.

Ceci said...

Great blog! I do struggle with creativity. Sometimes I get into such a funk. I decided that I should try to work at least every other day in the studio...force myself if need be. Well, I guess I'll see how that works for me this year.

On a Whimsey said...

Great post and thank you so much for including me!!!

Creativity can come and go but so needs an uncluttered outlook which is often hard when 'life' takes over but then when that window of opportunity presents itself, then the rivers of imagination start to flow and give relief to the soul.

The Filigree Garden said...

Enjoyed your post! Thanks for mentioning my blog (um, much neglected I'm afraid!), and shop. You have jump-started me into thinking about making creating and blogging more of a habit.

Yankeegirl said...

Thanks Judy! Very informative and inspirational!! Well done.