Remember the good old days when you actually enjoyed creating, and rushed to it full of excitement and anticipation?
You couldn’t wait to get started on all those ideas bubbling away in your head, and threw yourself headlong into your next new project with the energy and urgency that a man who’d been lost in the desert for a week without water would throw himself into the first lake he found?
What went wrong? Where did those times go?
When did you forget how to enjoy creating?
Instead, these days creating anything has become more like a seige on a castle, or a tactical battle where nothing moves, nothing gives, and nothing gets created.
On one side are the feared forces of procrastination, distracting you constantly with trivial tasks like checking your email (again), reorganising your art supplies by colour, preparing and eating food you don’t really need, and watching TV.
On the other flank is perfectionism’s aggressive army, daring you to even make a single pencil mark, type a single word, paint a single stroke or play a single note that isn’t the most flawlessly amazing pencil mark, word, brushstroke or musical note that any artist in history has ever made.
Then there’s you, stuck in the middle and under attack, torn up inside because you know you want to create, you need to create, you LONG to create.
But you’re terrified of making a move in case it’s the wrong one and you become branded a talentless failure, and foolish charlatan and are sent in shame from that unspoken elite league of artists who demand you meet strict creative criteria daily to be able to continue to call yourself a “real” artist.
Wow, that’s a pretty intense situation you’re in. It’s no wonder your enjoyment of creating has vanished.
So is all hope lost? Will you ever reclaim those carefree creative days?
No and yes. No, of course not all hope is lost and yes you CAN rediscover your love of creating and enjoying every moment.
The key secret to this rediscovery is to start small, and take tiny steps.
If you try to take on some huge complex project and finish it in a weekend you’re setting yourself a very difficult task, and one that most of us would not come close to completing. In other words, you’re just just setting yourself up for a fall.
But step back a little, and let’s scale things down.
Choose one tiny project to begin with. Something you can start, enjoy and finish in no more than about ten minutes.
It doesn’t have to be super revolutionary ground breakingly creative either. For example, you could try washing dishes. This may sound like a very trivial act, but it’s something that works well for a few reasons.
First, you know exactly what to do. There’s a set process here – run a bowl of water, add washing up liquid, then wash the dishes, slowly, carefully, one by one, until they’re all done, stacked and sparkling.
Second, it engages your senses. There’s the relaxing feel of the warm soapy water on your hands, the different textures of china, metal, wood, sponge, as you wash various objects. There’s the scent of the washing up liquid. There’s the gentle splashing sound of the water and the different clinks of dishes. There’s the satisfaction of seeing plates and cups and cutlery going into the water dirty, and reappearing shiny clean and good as new.
It’s a highly sensory experience, and for us artists, we adore anything that stimulates our senses.
What washing dishes also does is root you to one place, and gives your body a simple, steady task. You don’t wander off and check email or watch TV. You just wash those dishes slowly and carefully, as if they were the most expensive and fragile dishes in the world, and this was the most important and enjoyable thing you could possibly being doing right now.
Do this just a few times and you’ll start to reengage with being present with just one task, and experiencing and enjoying the stimulation of your senses.
Then, take this technique on to something more akin to how you usually express your creativity.
Maybe a small sketch, or a short poem, or a few photos.
Again, start small and take it slow. The most important thing here is to enjoy and experience your creative act as fully as possible, without any attachment to the end result. It’s all about the process, and remembering, relearning how to enjoy your precious creativity.
Just ten or fifteen minutes a day of this kind of simple, sensory, creating will help you rediscover your love of creating.
The habits you develop you can then just scale up to bigger projects, and longer sessions of creating.
You haven’t forgotten how to enjoy creating, and after all it’s one of the major reasons any of us create in the first place.
Be kind you yourself, take it slow, and one step at a time enjoy your rediscovery of carefree creating again. Go, start today.
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