Try to put your energy into pursuits that you both love and are good at (or have some even basic skill that you can build upon), and that leave a positive impact upon the world.
Have you ever thought about the difference between procrastination and creative thinking in your life? Procrastination is when you know you need to do something but keep coming up with excuses to put it off. I’m sure we’ve all been there! Some of us may even spend most of our time there, which surely can’t be too good in the practical day to day things of life.
However, if you are a creative person, then maybe at some point in your life you’ve been labelled or have labelled yourself as ‘lazy’. But is this actually the case?
Think of a project you’ve been working on for a long time, something that requires thought, focus, commitment, insight. Maybe you’re a painter, a sculptor, a musician / composer, working on a photography project, or like me, a writer. Has there been something that you have had as an on-going creative venture, that is very important to you, but that somehow you keep ‘stop-starting’ and yet with no intention of giving up?
Maybe you are overly critical of yourself about this. In a world that is fast-paced, filled with deadlines, and timelines, it can be difficult to see the positives in letting things rest for a while. Obviously, if you are working to external deadlines such as writing for a publisher / book deal, preparing for an exhibition with a set date, or working on a commissioned piece of art, then you may in fact be procrastinating if you are putting off what you know needs to be done.
But what if you are solely creating something with no other demands imposed other than it is something you feel you need to do and to express? I have been working on a novel for ten years, and it involves a lot of personal reflection, as well as progressing on my journey of processing and healing past experiences and present realities. I used to think, when I was younger, that I would have written my book by such and such an age. Is it failure that I haven’t? Or is it woven within the fabric of this ‘life’s work’ itself? Isn’t it the case that something coming from the deepest parts of me to find expression and life as I continue to learn and make sense of things needs and in fact deserves time?
When I am not working on my novel, which can be for months on end (I could look at this as because I am busy with other commitments, need longer focused periods of time, etc.) the creative process is still happening. It hasn’t stopped just because there is a pause in the writing, just as your creative process maybe continuing even when for a time you have put down your pen, pencil, paintbrush, composition notebook, camera, sculpting tools, musical instrument, or whatever it may be for you. During the ‘fallow’ periods of ‘not writing’ my novel, I still continue to write in other ways that require less focus and emotional and psychological investment which can actually be a relief from the difficulty and intensity of expressing in art personal pain and growth. My mind continues to process and ‘sift’ through experiences, gaining insight as I continue on my life path, and perhaps subconsciously working out ‘solutions’ to yet to be answered questions in my novel itself. I learn new things from my experiences, from people around me, from reading, and gain insight, inspiration and new ideas even when I am not working specifically on my creative project. And when I come back to it, I realise that I hadn’t actually ‘left’ it. Just as in music, those moments of silence, of pause, of reflection can be profound and imbued with power and meaning and emotion, so too can the times of rest in our creative journey.
Can you relate? Maybe if you are in a similar position and if it is the case that you are giving yourself a hard time over not investing time in something so important to you creatively, you could instead consider all of the many ways that the rest and silence is not in fact laziness or procrastination but a form of growth, insight, of learning, and exploring other people’s creativity, or reflecting upon and sifting through your own inner journey so that when you do once more give yourself to your creative work, things are more focused, have a greater depth, authenticity and sharpness to them.
It’s just a thought that I’ve come to realise gives me greater freedom from self-imposed expectations on my creative journey. What about you? Would love to hear your thoughts and insights into your own creative processes.
This post will be a little lighter, brighter and more colourful than my previous post today (which was a little bit ‘heavy’).
Recently I tried some pottery painting with my lovely mum. I have to wait a few more days to collect the finished pieces as they have gone into a kiln and will come out all glazed, bright, shiny and new!
Here is a sneak peek – the colours will be much more vivid once the pieces are finally ready.
Even when slowing down within the creative process, it can be that we find that we feel rushed within certain areas of ourselves inwardly. Part of the process of creativity is deep connection, and therefore we need to be aware that there can sometimes be a disconnect even when we slow down to write.
I have been experiencing the calm of engaging creatively with my writing. And yet, I sense an inward restlessness, and so I am going to pause and take a break away from writing my book to exercise my sense of connection.
It is quite simple, and is helpful for managing anxiety as well. Slow down, turn off distractions, and concentrate on your five senses, one at a time.
Observe, notice, experience, feel, the following, if you are able:
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can hear
- 3 things you can touch
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
Don’t rush through it. Don’t think of what you want to or ‘should be’ creating. If you like, play some gentle instrumental music quietly in the background to help you compose your breathing and concentration. Focus on your experience and enjoying being present in it. We can’t create the similitude of an experience well, if we haven’t first learned to live it….in and for itself.
If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that I am taking a few days out of my work schedule to continue writing my novel. I’m ‘on retreat’ in my own home, and although the days I set aside for this are Monday to Wednesday, this Sunday evening I have been settling down to re-read the most recent portion of my book and to reengage with it.
This is my first novel, and it comes from the deepest part of me. I am also writing a light-hearted piece of fiction, but that is really just an imaginative journey with fictional characters, whereas the novel that has been birthed in me through painful experiences, hurt, perseverance, faith and hope is what is most important to me out of anything I am writing.
Coming from this place, my notes to you (Hello world! 🙂 It’s nice to not have to be a complete recluse on retreat and still have some semblance of contact and connection with the outside world) are that writing is more than creating sentences from finely chosen words to create meaning and story. It is SO much more. For me it is an expression of my soul, a cathartic journey, a making sense of traumatic experience through allegory and story, a process of growth through gaining insights into the human condition, mind, psychology and heart, and an expression of praise and worship to my Creator, and a hopeful offering that something of my soul’s journey will touch and help someone else someday.
There is depth to such writing, when we write from our hearts, that goes beyond prose on a page or a screen. I have felt so reengaged with what I have written, and also quite emotionally touched by it too. This is perhaps why we ‘creative types’ need time, space and solitude to assimilate and allow what is within us to take shape and find an expression to share with the world. Part of writing is sharing an intimate glimpse of your soul, and even though nobody is reading my novel except myself, there is still power in this process.
It is hard to grasp the wonder and necessity of creativity in our lives, especially in a fast paced world that does not allow us the time for lessons to simmer within us and for us to more fully process, be changed by, overcome and experience growth through our life’s experiences. And yet there is power in authentic creativity. I know you have something unique to share with the world, even if it takes time, many that have gone before us spent their lives crafting something that would only be completed, acknowledged or understood after their time on earth. Yet, isn’t our human experience so much more than fast paced ‘clicks’, ‘views’ and ‘likes’? Take time to develop your craft, and to share that unique part of yourself with the world in a way that allows you the opportunity to authentically experience the lesson for yourself, and then in some small part share a glimmer of that deep humanity with the world.
I’m trying to get back into adult colouring in again, as I have only really been able to do a little bit here and there, so here is a picture I started and finished this morning – which is the first one I have completed in a while. This is from the lovely colouring book, ‘Nature’s Beauty’, with the original black and white picture shown in the insert below. I hope it brightens up your day a little 🙂 x
How creative are you? My guess is that if you are a blogger, you’re probably fairly high in the creative stakes. And yet, creativity ebbs and flows, and can take on various different dimensions and expressions throughout life, and can be approached very uniquely from individual to individual.
Creative thinking is not necessarily confined to artistic pursuits, such as writing, drawing, design, travel, sculpture, dance, photography, cookery, painting, literature, crafts, and so on and on with the endless possibilities of engaging with life in this world on this amazingly fascinating planet. Creative thinking can also find its expression in business, research, science, teaching, entrepreneurial pursuits and more analytical fields.
If you’re like me then you’re both highly creative and analytical in certain areas of your life. In other areas or fields of learning you may have to apply more grit and determination to learning something that doesn’t necessarily ‘spark the fire’ in you quite as easily.
So in the ebb and flow of creativity, of being human, sometimes inspiration can seem to run dry. You know you have an idea in you somewhere, and yet you can’t quite articulate it even to yourself. You stare at that blank piece of paper or computer screen, wondering what to write, draw or plan. You hold the fabric in your hands and can’t quite engage your ideas and your heart as passionately as you once did and end up tossing it aside for when you’re feeling more ‘in the zone’.
So what do you do? Realise that even when you aren’t necessarily producing grand designs, ideas, plans or making anything, there is still a process going on within you and perhaps it is somewhat of a ‘sifting’ of ideas, emotions and experiences that will find their expression in due course.
Ease yourself from the self imposed pressure of having to ‘show’ something or produce something. Inspiration is a lot to do with authenticity. Authentically living in, feeling, experiencing that particular moment, that ‘something’ real in life, that your soul connects to and desires to express and find expression in.
Engage with yourself again, your five senses. Take time to be present, grounded, and still. Become aware of the beauty, depth, simplicity and profundity of the things you can touch, taste, hear, see, and smell right now. Drawing inspiration from others is a beautiful thing, and yet connecting with your own experience of life in the moment is perhaps more powerful.
Don’t confine creativity and inspiration to the realm of producing great works. First *experience* it. Your expression may be in a rhythm, a phrase, some notes jotted on a crumpled piece of paper, the enjoyment of the rustle of leaves in your hand or underfoot, the appreciation of the slow movement of clouds across the sky, a word, a thought, a scribble, an unwritten, unshared song that you give life to in the moment, the click of a camera, a combination of colours, the unravelling of a piece of string.
The first mark on that piece of paper. That first word typed on your computer screen.
Perhaps you can start there. Alive. And maybe what your soul gives expression to can one day be shared.
Take your time. Live it first. Life is the inspiration you’ve been waiting for…
Well, we’ve made it to May, which means that summer is on its way, and hopefully so too are new opportunities and adventures, be they big or small.
The new year seems to be the most obvious time of the year for most people to reflect and take stock of where they are in life, and where they want to be, to set goals and make plans for the year ahead.
However, I think that each season, and even each new month provides an opportunity to invest in our personal growth and quality of life, by taking the time to reflect on whether the way we spend our time is aligned to our deepest values and purpose in life.
That might sound a little overwhelming, but the thing is, life can only be lived one day at a time, one moment at a time, one breath at a time. And so it brings a kind of comfort in knowing that the little things all add up to build the pattern of our lives in more significant ways.
By looking at each month as an opportunity to reflect and reprioritise, this makes the perhaps otherwise overwhelming task of accomplishing life goals, or living well, much more manageable, fun and achievable.
I don’t know about you, but I find using a planner a helpful, creative and engaging way of doing this. Personally, I use the ‘Tools 4 Wisdom’ planner, and although I don’t always manage to sit down at the start of each month to do so, when I am able, like this month of May, I enjoy adding colour, designs and drawings to the month, creating a colour scheme and a theme, and adding in the details of events, tasks and goals.
Some people prefer to use online methods, or combine these with art journaling or bullet journaling, there are so many ways to create a framework and a structure for reflection that works for you.
I find it helps me to have a positive outlook on the month, as otherwise it is so easy to simply ‘drift’, to wonder where the time is going, or to feel like each day is just slipping into the next and that you’re somehow not making the most of things. It is engaging too, creatively in that the very act of producing something authentic, putting pen to paper, means that you are putting in something of yourself, and appreciating through the creative process, the fact that each little detail is important, and allowing yourself to value each day.
Even the seemingly mundane or ‘ordinary’ days can be extraordinary in their own ways.
Perhaps a good way to move forwards is to bring to mind any goals you had at the start of the year, and reflect upon these and revise them if required. Life changes, and your plans may have to as well, however, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Then each month, choose one key life area, and maybe four or five smaller things that you want to work towards or accomplish. They don’t need to be ‘massive’ goals, like traveling the world or sky diving (perhaps those are ‘ordinary’ goals to you if you are the more adventurous type!), they can be simple yet authentic, and therefore beautiful in their own way – things like read one book, plan to spend time with a friend or family member, write a blog post, work on a particular creative project, make time for self care, etc.
Living purposefully gives us the opportunity to clear away some of the clutter in our lives and minds, to let go of what are unnecessary time stealers, and to perhaps live more simply, deeply and authentically, so that we feel more connected to ourselves, our core values and the people and pursuits in our lives that matter most to us.
Breaking things down and appreciating each small ‘chunk’ of time that we’ve been blessed with is good for our mental health too. Things feel less overwhelming, clearer and easier to prioritise. We can’t do it all, but we can try to spend more time focussing on what matters most, knowing that these little steps in the right direction all add up to a more fulfilling life.
We seem to be, in this generation, constantly ‘plugged in’, and always taking in stimuli from the world around us with unceasing suggestions of what we should be doing, thinking, eating, wearing, feeling, and so on. We also find ourselves caught up in the stream of images, stories, pictures and snapshots of other people’s lives, and that creates a risk of unhealthy comparison, ‘FOMO’ and even mental health struggles such as anxiety, fear, loneliness and depression if we feel that our lives are ‘not enough’ compared to those around us.
Yet, there is a beautiful paradox that reveals that when we disconnect from the noise, we are able to live in a deeper way that is more fully connected. We don’t need to pretend that the rest of the world isn’t there, or to stop engaging with it, but we do need to realise the importance of taking time to reengage with ourselves, our own lives, quietness, solitude and personal self reflection so that the time we spend on this earth is meaningful, authentic and much less wasteful.
I hope you take the time to enjoy something meaningful to you today. Perhaps that is in prayer, a walk in nature, journaling and reflecting, assessing your priorities, spending time with people you love, or maybe even sending out a random act of kindness to someone, even a stranger, who might need the authentic love and care of a fellow human being. Perhaps today, in taking time to connect with what is meaningful to you in your life, you might be inspired to write a blog post that will encourage another precious soul. Take care, think deeply, seek peace and pursue it, and be kind. xx
This is my latest completed double page spread in my adult colouring book, Ivy & The Inky Butterfly by Scottish illustrator, Johanna Basford. I used Staedtler ergo soft pencils, Faber Castelle Aquarelle pencils and Staedtler fine-liner pens.
This book by Johanna is a beautifully illustrated story book filled with enchantment and wonder, and lots of ‘goodies’ to colour such as jewels, butterflies, flora and fauna, treasure, owls, toadstools and even a few dragons, to name but a few!
I completed this picture today after being sent home early from work as we are experiencing a snow blizzard!! Just the right thing to turn a chilly snow day into a cosy relaxing afternoon. I hope the colours and Johanna’s beautiful illustrations bring a smile to your face. xx
With the nights growing longer, and the days colder, as leaves begin to turn from green to vibrant shades of yellow, orange and red, and then fade once more into grey, and fall and turn to dust, the evenings have become a perfect time for some cosy indoor activities.
So, I am attempting to learn to draw. I have always loved to doodle, but I have never taken an art class in my life, and I have never really known where to begin. I’m no artist, just a beginner, and I would love to learn and develop so much more.
This week I have been sketching and watching You Tube videos in my attempt to figure out just where to start. Here are four completed pictures that I have done. They aren’t great, as I’m just a beginner, but they made me smile and I hope they make you smile too.
I would love to hear from people who have been drawing for a while, and for whom art is ‘their thing’. Do you have any advice for a newbie / beginner? And any feedback on what I have done in my first week?
Thanks so much. Hoping to come across some blogs with some beautiful and interesting original artwork to help inspire me in this creative journey.