I'm behind on a bunch of things I wanted to get done this week (going back to work flattened me, and I hate that!). But today I really needed to play with some paint. So I caught up a little bit with my Wanderlust lessons. Played with alcohol inks mixed with my paints on the gel plate. Got one print I especially liked, but the edges didn't lift so the actual print area wasn't big enough for what I wanted to do. So I made another one (and a couple more because gel printing!) and got this, and I'm pretty satisfied with this. And feeling better after having some play time.
The takeaway--sometimes, even if you have a lot to do, you have to step back and get in some creative play time to lighten up and give yourself a boost so you can get on with all the other stuff.
I have been slowly working on this spread for almost two weeks. I realized it's because I was giving it a lot of weight in my head. The photo is my great-grandmother, and I think I was wanting to make this so very perfect because of that importance. Maybe I should have used a random photo from the internet!
Sometimes when something is important it freezes me up. That's another thing I think I need to spend more time with. There's a message there and some digging to do.
It's been a while. And then I started this post and let it go for several days. This is telling me I need to revamp how I keep in touch--clearly I don't have the right system set up.
Since the beginning of June, life has been a lot. My beloved cat dying suddenly from cancer. My job ending. Traveling to see family for the first time since my mom died five years ago. My partner leaving his job of 15 years for a new opportunity. Adopting a new cat so very soon after my darling died because our other boy was sad without a friend and having the new kitty girl go into heat almost immediately right when my partner was leaving for two weeks for the new job. Yeah, it's been like that.
Through it all I did keep to some creative practice. I was doing The100DayProject, and I stuck to it through all the chaos. Friends and others have commented that this is impressive and some have wondered how I managed to stick with it. I did a little post about this on my Facebook page the other day, but I thought I'd write a little more and put this somewhere easy to find for people who need it at some point.
What I did to keep in touch with my creativity:
I made sure my projects could be varied so that I could work for just a few minutes or half an hour or more depending on how my day was going. And every day I told myself I would just do a few minutes (and most days it turned into a longer time and was always rewarding)
I put my supplies right where I could see them every day and could just sit down and use them when I was ready to work
I used social media as my accountability partner and reported what I did every day
I told my partner and my closest friend when I was having an "I don't feel like doing anything" day; saying it out loud always helps me get myself off the couch
I gave myself permission up front to do "ugly" work or "plain" work like just some paint and washi tape on a page where I did practice brush lettering
So, what to do if you are struggling to get to your creative work?
Find the smallest steps you can do. Make a list of them so when you're really busy/tired/resistant/whatever you don't have to try to think of what to do.
Do the smallest step. Don't try to make yourself do more. If you do something for three minutes and you really don't want to do more, that's fine. It still counts.
Find a way to keep yourself accountable, a way to report your successes. Hashtags are pretty good for this.
Try for some variety in your creative practice so you don't get bored or feel stuck.
Let yourself do practice work, ugly work, plain work. Don't aim for finish products or your best pieces every single day.
I hope this helps if you're feeling stuck or overwhelmed. Keeping up with our creative work when life is particularly hard is important. It helps clear the mind and fill the soul, and it gives us a win in days that might not have many. So don't let go of your creativity when things are bumpy, just find a way to make it easier. Your future self with thank you for it.
I love August! I have loved August since the first year I went to school (in the Chicago suburbs where I grew up, school starts in August rather than September). There's always been so much promise in the start of a new year for me, kind of like in January, but for me I feel that new year vibe even stronger in the Fall. I love new classes and subjects and schedules, all bursting with good new things to learn and try and practice.
I think my love of that back-to-school wave must have been seeping in even though I didn't realize it, because this week I signed up for three creative challenges for August--one for writing, one for journaling, one for photography. I should find plenty of new things to try with these!
Writing: I'm signed up for DIY MFA's Conquer the Craft challenge, which is actually a 29-day challenge. I'm going to use it in conjunction with a group I signed up for called My 500 Words that focuses on--I bet you know this one--writing 500 words a day. After August I plan to do it only one weekdays/work days, but for August I'll use if for the 29 days of Conquer the Craft. This might even fit in with my #Just10Minutes practice, at least on some days. If I'm on a roll, I can write 500 words in 10 minutes, so I might try to push for it a few times just as an extra challenge.
Journaling: I'm also jumping back in on Lisa Sonora Beam's ROOT 30 Day Journal Project. I sort of participated in January, but I was still heavily in a Lull phase and didn't get all the way through.
Photography: And finally I'm doing the Life in Black and White challenge. Thirty-one days of black-and-white photography. Since getting a digital camera, and then an iPod Touch, I never shoot b & w anymore, and I used to love doing that with a film camera. I'm looking forward to focusing on some photography plus getting back to black-and-white. I even got two new apps for my Pod (Noir Pro and Hueless) to try out for the challenge.
So what about you? Do you get the same kind of vibe I do when it's back-to-school time? Any plans to start something new this August? Tell me all about your plans--I'd love to hear them!