Remembering the Gift of Creativity

Recently, my friend Michelle Wells posted something on Instagram about taking the time to create, even when we feel like we don’t have “enough time,” and it really struck a chord with me. I’ve gotten away from playing around with art the last few months; seems like there’s always something more important to do, and by the end of the day I’m tired and it feels like too much effort to “be creative.” So day after day passes and I don’t do anything. And before I know it, I’m irritable and my energy is low and I can’t figure out why. Oh yeah—all work and no play!

As Michelle said, “Sometimes, I put off my creative urges until I have 'enough' time. As you can imagine, during particularly busy periods, this can become a problem. 'Enough' time never arrives. I've become aware of a direct correlation between my level of stress / irritability and the amount of time that I spend creating. And so, I created a solution. I came up with an easy way to allow myself to create - even when I don't have 'enough' time.

“Exploring my art supplies, I experimented with many papers that would be suitable for tiny masterpieces. Next, I tried out various mediums until I found one that was both portable and enjoyable to use. I put it to the test. When I felt the yearning to create, instead of feeling like I didn't have 'enough' time, I got my paper and pens and made something. These small pops of joy within my day gave me extra mental space and the energy I needed … The best part is that these supplies are available and affordable. No excuses!!!!!!!!!” (You can click here to see the post and the supplies she’s talking about.)

I was inspired by her post and vowed to bring daily creativity back into my life. Yesterday I promised myself that I would do something creative. Well, 6 p.m. rolled around and I was still tackling my list. But instead of giving up, I decided to emulate Michelle and make it happen.

I finished what had to be done, then sat down in my chair, put on some jazz, and pulled out my sketch book and some markers. I closed my eyes and started doodling to the music. When the song changed, I would change the color of the marker. It was really interesting—some songs were long swoopy swirls, some were frenetic dots, and some were little flourishes. I did this for about fifteen minutes. It didn’t look like “art” but it did look cool. And I felt immensely more peaceful and happy. In fact, I started feeling better as soon as I put the first marker to the page.

It’s so restorative to create with my hands, even if it’s just doodling. The feeling of the pencil, marker, or brush against paper is extremely soothing, and drawing or painting absorbs all my attention. For that period of time, I’m focused on just one thing—and in a world full of distractions, that’s a rare occurrence. It’s relaxing and contemplative. And I’m a color-holic; looking at all the different colors, combining them in various ways, makes me ridiculously happy.

Then when I’m done, I have the pride of having made something concrete. It’s right there in front of me—even if it’s not “good,” it’s still something I made that wasn’t in the world previously, and that’s satisfying. All of those feelings are quite a rich payoff for just a few minutes of my time!

And it’s funny how this seems like a new discovery, and yet I’ve known it for a while. When I went to save this post, I wanted to title it “Taking Time for Creativity”—then found that I ALREADY had a post titled that! Pulled it up, and yep—it’s about this exact topic. The post is below. And the line that really struck me this time was: “My inner grownup thinks that creativity for creativity’s sake is useless, but as I seem to have to rediscover over and over again, that simply isn’t true.” Ahem. Yes, apparently, I am still having to rediscover this over and over again.

Taking Time for Creativity

I had a rare opportunity yesterday morning to meet a friend for an “art date.” We set up at a coffee shop with markers and paper (and a chocolate croissant for me—very necessary for creativity!) and I showed her what I had learned in the “whimsical lettering” class at Lucky Star Art Camp taught by Roxanne Glaser (aka Super Doodle Girl).

We had so much fun! It felt frivolous, and I had rescheduled a couple of times because I was “too busy, ”but it was really energizing. Doing something creative—and completely different from my usual routine—on a weekday morning was soul-reviving. Self care, baby!

I made myself a lovely little reminder sign (pictured below), so no, nasty voice in my head, it wasn’t a complete waste of time!

But honestly, even if I hadn’t made anything, it still wouldn’t have been a waste of time.

I have been so focused on finishing and launching my book, plus doing client work and managing the usual life stuff, that I have neglected my creativity. This week I was feeling spring feverish—not in the mood to sit at the computer and work, antsy, bored, grumpy. Taking this time was just what I needed. My inner grownup thinks that creativity for creativity’s sake is useless, but as I seem to have to rediscover over and over again, that simply isn’t true.

As Julia Cameron says in her groundbreaking book The Artist’s Way, “Creativity is the natural order of life. Life is energy: pure creative energy. … We are, ourselves, creations. And we, in turn, are meant to continue creativity by being creative ourselves.”  

This weekend—or, gasp, one day next week!—play around with something creative, just for the heck of it. Doodle, or paint, or collage, or sew, or color, or garden, or cook … whatever form of creativity calls you. Because you can feel it, can’t you? You can feel that tug, that inner child who wants to go play with all those colors and make a mess—but is afraid of getting in trouble. Give your inner grownup some time off and let that child go wild! I promise, you won’t regret it!