This is the first installation of a four part series on the basics of cultivating your creativity. I write about cultivating creativity once a month.
Some people are abundantly creative where everything they touch seem to turn to gold. Some of us, don’t have that Midas touch. For most of us, creativity is like a garden. It requires time and careful nurturing in order to flourish and produce flowers and fruit. If it is starved of air or time, it will shrivel up, and you would be left with a dry, brown patch. This was slowly happening to me until I had that wake up call.
When I came out of the busyness trap and made the decision to have some form of creative output, I tried to do a small pen line doodle every day. I figured that this was easy enough to achieve. I could draw on the bus or train or whenever I had pen and paper. This went well for about a month or so and then, my motivation fizzled out.
At about the same time, I was into Week 2 of a read-your-Bible-in-a-year plan with a group of ladies from church. While reading the story of Joseph, I kept picturing an image of his coat. I knew that if I didn’t draw that image on paper, it would just stay in my head forever and that would be annoying. Anyone else out there know what I am talking about?
So, I drew it into my notebook and as I drew, the drawing began to take shape as I visually recorded the various parts of his story. I had so much fun giving life to that image in my head, I decided to go back to the Week 1 readings and intentionally seek inspiration for a drawing. I had wanted for some time to try tangling so I did.
A plan began to take shape in my head. I could do a tangled drawing each week based on the readings and at the end of the year, I would have improved my skill at tangling. I would also have a total of 52 drawings! Wouldn’t that be simply amazing? Going from a dearth to producing a drawing a week. I was motivated! I told the ladies in my small group and they were excited which made me even more enthusiastic about this weekly drawing exercise of mine because others were now looking forward to seeing my pieces.
As the weeks progressed, I looked forward to finding that inspiration from the readings and drawing it on paper. I am in week 20 and still going good. I have been late a few times and in fact, at the moment, I am two weeks behind. It doesn’t matter though because I am following a plan and I can always return to it when I have some extra time on my hands.
You can do it too! You can cultivate your creativity through weekly exercises by following the steps below:
Step 1: Pick an activity for inspiration
This activity should be something that is already part of your weekly schedule. This could be sitting by the side of the field as your son has soccer practice, Sunday brunch with the family, or watching a favourite programme. Avoid picking a new thing to add your routine. The idea is for you to pick something that you do weekly so that this new weekly creativity exercise we are trying to cultivate here will grow from the routine your body already recognises.
Step 2: Choose a craft or art form to practice
After you have chosen the activity, decide on the art form or craft you want to produce. We are aiming for quick creative outputs so things to try are line drawings, sketching with watercolour, or hand lettering. Try not to pick something that requires a lot of set up, prep, or waiting time such as oil painting, cross stitching, or quilting.
Step 3: Draw inspiration from that activity
When you are by the soccer field, enjoying your family company at brunch or watching your favourite programme, be intentional about drawing inspiration from it. When you look for inspiration, you will surprise yourself by being inspired by the most mundane things.
Step 4: Capture some time to produce
The most important part of this exercise is this step. The ‘doing’ step. Reclaim some time for yourself just before bed, while waiting for your daughter during school pick up time, or during your daily commutes. Even if it is only a few minutes each session, these tiny sessions add up across the week. During these precious moments, use the inspiration your drew from your activity to produce your craft.
Step 5: Show your work
Now that you are producing work, show it proudly. Show your family and friends. Share it on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #cultivatecreativityweekly. I’d love to see your progress. You can see mine too.
Remember: It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t look perfect. It may not be your best work but be gentle with yourself. Remember that practice makes progress. We are not striving for perfection here. We are working towards intentionally cultivating your creativity by giving it time and showing it off.
Enjoy your garden,
Next up: Part 2 of Cultivating Creativity Basics: The creative mindset. See you next month!