Thoughts on making

Slow Summer Creativity: Make it yours

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Through July I’ll be sharing a gentle prompt each week loosely themed on creativity. It’s about creating space to explore without pressure of performing, play without fear of failure and simply step back for a moment to reconnect. What better time to slow down than during the Summer?

Feel free to join in if you want to. No pressure whatsoever. Leave a comment here or tag me on instagram and use the hashtag #slowsummercreativity.

 


Three weeks into the Slow Summer Creativity series and here is what I’m thinking: creativity is perhaps just very human.

I haven’t felt extraordinary creative writing about creativity. Rather the opposite, I’ve felt very like my ordinary self. (Ordinary boring self, I was about to add.) I wonder now if the ordinary is exceptional enough. What if creativity is less of a mysterious big thing and instead exceptionally ordinary?

I don’t believe creativity is a character trait some people were born with and others not. We are each of us creative all the time without thinking about it. We cannot help but create: we see the world around us and interpret what we see.

That also makes creativity very personal. Creativity is not a skill that can be learned once and for all. You cannot copy creativity, only attempt to copy the end result. It is your view, your take on something, your approach that makes it creative. You will inevitably be influenced by others, but however you interpret the world you see, you bring something new to the table. However you set voice to your surroundings, however you write, or talk or sing or make – it will be in your unique way. Great minds think alike, they say, but really great minds think for themselves. That’s what makes them great.

I see creativity as a process and a practice. It is something you keep coming back to, like a knitting project in progress: you pick it up and put it down, pick it up again. In whatever form creativity takes for you, I think that is the trick: to keep coming back. To keep doing it anyway – whatever it is for you – in between life, in between all the “shoulds” and the “oughts”, and to remember that creativity rooms so much more than the grand master’s art in art galleries.

This last week of the Slow Summer Creativity series I want to honour those tiny drops of ordinary, everyday creativity. Nothing grand, no big empty canvases awaiting the stroke of genius, I simply want to look and listen and be me in between all the rest that is life.

Happy creating!

 

You can find the previous posts in this series here: Slow Summer Creativity: Letting go, Slow Summer Creativity: Indulge, Slow Summer Creativity: Play.

Slow Summer Creativity: Play

Through July I’ll be sharing a gentle prompt each week loosely themed on creativity. It’s about creating space to explore without pressure of performing, play without fear of failure and simply step back for a moment to reconnect. What better time to slow down than during the Summer?

Feel free to join in if you want to. No pressure whatsoever. Leave a comment here or tag me on instagram and use the hashtag #slowsummercreativity.

 

Perfectionism often gets in the way for my own creative process. I get stuck in that awkward first draft, sweating over questions I can’t know the answer to: Is it good enough? What will others think? Is it a dead end? Am I spending my time efficiently? Is this the best way, the best place to start?

In all that worry and the attempt to control the outcome I forget that it is in that space of uncertain exploration that good things occur. Not always and not predictably, but often.

While I was finishing up my Master’s thesis in Philosophy I would sometimes struggle with a paragraph all day, tense with the stress of producing rigorous thought under time pressure. Once I lay my head on my pillow at night and drifted towards sleep, suddenly I would compose a whole page and a chapter in an instant. As easy as that.

That is the wonderful and frustrating thing about creative flow. It’s playful. It’s hard to predict. Creativity is creating. It’s as simple as that, really. But it doesn’t always feel that simple because you also want to create something beautiful and useful and innovative and fresh. That’s where the expectations, hopes and fears come in, and all the perfectionist stuff that gets in the way.

Playing is doing something for the sheer enjoyment of it. It’s driven by curiosity, interest, exploration, wonder, dreams and longings. Playing doesn’t demand a perfect end result because playing is to be caught in the process.

However, if you are a perfectionist, like me, playing can be a little scary. The awkward first draft is, you know, pretty awkward. Yet, you have to start somewhere. The awkward first draft is precisely that: a starting point, not the best, not the only possible, but simply a place to start. And it’s a draft! You can always scrap it and try something else.

In a way, being playful is being generous with your own time. It’s letting go of the attempt to create in the best possible way and instead letting yourself create, full stop. Maybe you can’t control when the ideas come or what your ideas will bring, just in what space you will listen to them and how you pursue them.

On the third week of the Slow Summer Creativity series I’ll be taking lessons from the three-year-old on how to play. What will I do? I have absolutely no idea. I’ll be unproductively pursuing dead ends and inefficiently fooling about. Hopefully having a good time. Who knows. It won’t be perfect, that’s for sure.

Play along too if you feel like it!

 

You can find the other posts in this series here: Slow Summer Creativity: Letting go, Slow Summer Creativity: Indulge, Slow Summer Creativity: Make it yours.

Slow Summer Creativity: Indulge

Through July I’ll be sharing a gentle prompt each week loosely themed on creativity. It’s about creating space to explore without pressure of performing, play without fear of failure and simply step back for a moment to reconnect. What better time to slow down than during the Summer?

Feel free to join in if you want to. No pressure whatsoever. Leave a comment here or tag me on instagram and use the hashtag #slowsummercreativity.

 

As I embarked on my tidying odyssey last summer, I slowly caught up with my life just as it was at that moment in time. Somehow tidying my things left space for me to hear my own thoughts.

Slowly, I began to listen to the tiny whisper in my head wanting to write and wanting to get the sewing machine out. In between all the things I felt I had to do and ought to do and should do, I began to indulge that tiny whisper.

Write!? I can’t write! Sew!? I can’t waste my time sewing! Hello, panicky voice inside my head. Yes, I know you’re there.

Yet, I indulged my curiosity anyway. I pursued some of the questions swimming around my head and I sat down by the sewing machine. I knit and I let the hazy outlines of dreams unfold. In a way, this blog sprang out of that empty space I had created. It came into shape from an unarticulated idea, like the first spindly shoots of a delicate plant. I let myself nurture it. And now, here I am writing a blog post. Yet I don’t know what kind of plant it is.

I’m writing and making, and sharing my journey as I go. Not without fear, definitely not, and still uncomfortably balancing the imperfect reality of where I am with the wishful ideal of where I want to be. But I’m doing it anyway – one word at the time, one stitch at the time –  and that is a surprisingly good feeling.

I realise, now, that the tiny whisper of curiosity is my friend and not my enemy.


Indulge your curiosity and eat the cake

On this second week of the Slow Summer Creativity series I’ll be letting myself indulge my curiosity again. For when are you ever allowed to indulge? Never really. There’s always something in the way: there’s not enough time or it’s not the right time or you should be doing this or that instead.

Life gets in the way, and that’s just life. But how about you indulge a little anyway? How about doing just a little of that thing you’re always wanting to do but never find the time for? You know, maybe just sit down and read that book. Go to that exhibition. See that movie. Start knitting that sweater. Buy those crayons. Eat that cake.

What has indulging to do with creativity? Well, it shows you where you are right now. It makes plain the difference between what you feel you should be pursuing and what you actually want to be doing now. It opens up to the person you are, instead of who you wish you were. That is where creativity thrives: in the space that is uniquely yours.

Of course, I know you can’t always be doing just what you want yourself. Yes, I realise there are things you actually have to do and bills to pay and mouths to feed. But there might be a little space in between all that. There might even be more space than you think. It’s worth a try.

What will I be doing this week? Well, eating cake of course! And I’ll be dipping into the books that have waited patiently on my bedside table this past month or so. That will have to be in those stolen moments of quiet in between the constant chattering of the soon-to-be three year old.

 

You can find the other posts in this series here: Slow Summer Creativity: Letting go, Slow Summer Creativity: Play, Slow Summer Creativity: Make it yours.