"Every child is an artist. The problem is to remain an artist once we grow up." ~ Pablo Picasso
I think of myself as a creative person. My interests, my approach to solving problems, my button business and my dreams for the future all revolve around creativity. It has had such an influence on my life, particularly in the last two years, helping me to discover new crafting hobbies, make things I can be proud of and that build my confidence, introducing me to lots of fellow creative sorts through this blog, and acting as invaluable therapy during the tough times, that I am increasingly passionate about helping others to discover and strengthen their own creativity too. The benefits it can bring are boundless.
Creativity, in my view, is a muscle. The muscle is always there, but some people carry it around with them their whole lives, never using it, or even being aware they have it. Others use this muscle when they need or want to ‘push’ something; when they need to come up with a solution to a problem, when they want to make something or write something or perfect dancing the foxtrot. The most creative people actively invest time and effort in the ‘creativity gym’, exercising this muscle. These folks know that the more you use your creative might, the faster the ideas come to you, the stronger your creativity gets, and the more creatively fulfilled and happy you can become.
This knowledge, combined with the fact that, let’s face it – being creative is ridiculously fun – is the reason I started doing two things a few months ago.
- I started scheduling in a ‘creative date’ in my diary every month. This is different to Creatives Unite in that I don’t actually work on a craft or art project during this session. It's a little like the idea of an 'Artist's Date' Julia Cameron puts forth in The Artist's Way.
- I put together a Creativity Box, to use during the date.
So what do I do during this date?
Well, I make a cup of tea.
I take my box and some cushions and plonk myself down on the floor, or on a grassy spot at the park.
Usually my canine companion joins me.
I take my brightly coloured felt tip pens and my sketchbook…
…and I play.
I write down my creative goals for the coming month, and decorate them with bright swirls and squiggles.
I plan blog posts, recipes and craft projects.
I cut snippets and pictures out of magazines, stick them in my smash book and scribble whatever ideas they bring to mind.
I make a mess.
I read about creativity.
I pin inspiring images and craft ideas on Pinterest.
Children have a natural gift for playing. They spend their days pretending to be dragons and doctors, princesses and puppies. They can make a house out of a cardboard box, a smiley face out of a pizza, and a castle from toilet rolls. They run for fun, cover blank pages with bright colour without an ounce of trepidation, notice the small things and make up stories as easily as they process facts.
Somewhere along the line, we start being told to ‘sit still’, ‘walk, don’t run’, ‘stop being noisy’, ‘don’t make a mess’, ‘don’t waste paper’, ‘think before you act’, ‘it’s time you got your head out of the clouds and faced up to reality’, ‘work is serious and should be taken as such’ and ‘write neatly’. These things are all instilled in us by grown ups who care, and who want to us to become considerate, thoughtful, self-disciplined and self-aware adults.
But we do lose that ability to play, and I don’t believe we’re supposed to. I think we’re supposed to stay curious, supposed to be able to creatively express ourselves, supposed to run through a field of daisies going ‘aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!’ just because, and hey, if you want to pretend to be a dragon it might brighten up that Tuesday afternoon team sales meeting. Just don’t expect Marjorie to ‘get you’.
A creative date once a month is your chance to play, and can bring a world of benefits:
· Relaxation, or a way to work through problems. Mindless activity can provide a distraction from worry.
· This is a brilliant way to generate more ideas than you can possibly handle!
· Gets you ‘in the zone’ ready to work on another creative activity, or tasks such as essay-writing. I often have creative playtime before button-making, and before writing blog posts. It’s a little like the concept of morning pages as also outlined in The Artist’s Way. It readies the mind.
· Use the time to write in your journal, or cut and paste. This encourages self-reflection and centres your soul so you can think more clearly about what you want from the month ahead.
· Just for the pure joy of being creative, being messy, playing, not worrying about being perfect, and expressing yourself.
And the creativity box? Just what it says on the tin. A special box in which you keep all sorts of fun stuff for your creative dates. In mine I have:
- My sketchbook/smashbook
- Fun pens
- A colourful messy list of creative goals for the coming month
- Whatever creativity-themed books I'm reading
- A magic glittery, swirly thinking stick. Not sure why.
- ...And often a selection of crafty bits and bobs for being messy and creative with.
If nothing else, this is a great excuse for some time away from everyday life each month. A chance to do something that requires no planning, special supplies, money or precision, but that can produce really valuable results.
PS: Apologies for the little gap in blogging there; as you'll know from my going on about it constantly, I'm doing my first craft fair today so it's been full-on preparation lately. Will share photos this coming week!