December can be a crazy month as we prepare for the holidays. I don’t even need to remind you that things are extra stressful this year. One of my favorite things to do in December is to create every single day.
Creativity is very important to me, but life always seems to want to pull me away from it. I should say I let life (and Netflix) pull me away. Because December is such a full month, I find it the most important time to recommit to creativity. I encourage you to the same. Just 15 minutes a day can be such a stress reliever!
For the last few years, I’ve created an illustration each day in December. This year I’m trying a new medium – block printing. I’ve gotten a head start – I organized my tools, watched a few YouTube videos, sketched a few ideas. I’ve even carved two small designs!
In the past my goal was to post a completed illustration each day. This year I simply want to work in the new medium for at least 15 minutes a day. I have to admit it’s hard to be a beginner! That first day carving my linoleum block felt so awkward. But I know from experience that a month of focusing on one thing can lead to real progress.
I hope you’ll join me in creating every day!
There are a lot of great kits to get you started with a new medium in this blog post.
One of the biggest problems we have as creatives is too many ideas. Have you ever been working on a project and you get an idea and “squirrel!” – You set off in a new direction? If the same thing happens again while you‘re working on the “new” idea, you’ll never finish anything!
One of the most helpful tools I use to keep me focused is a notebook. My notebook and morning routine have enabled me to keep my New Year’s Resolution (My Creative Resolution) for almost 8 years! Every morning I write in my notebook and check in with my creative projects.
Aside from daily writing, a critical part is checking back on previous entries. Doing this reminds me of past ideas and projects. It allows me to re-focus back on things I may have forgotten about. When I’m revisiting past entries I also can decide which ideas not to pursue, because it’s hard to get things done if we spread ourselves too thin. Looking back allows me to feel satisfaction when I’ve finished a project.
Sometimes I have an idea that in the moment I’m very excited about, but as time passes I lose confidence in it. But when an idea keeps popping up – I know it’s time to follow through.
This is how I was able to finish the book based on My Creative Resolution – “Creative Exploration.” The idea for the book kept coming back to me. I would work on it for a while and then move on to other things. When the book idea came back around for the second or third year in a row, I figured it was time. I immediately hired my own proofreader. I knew having a due date and someone else would hold me accountable to finish a draft.
Often the hardest part of anything is starting. So many things can hold you back – fear, uncertainty, a lack of confidence. It’s important to take stock of those things so they don’t slow you down. So you can move forward.
Since I was young I loved art, but like many people, I got away from it. But the desire to be creative stuck with me, even if it was dormant for a long time. It wasn’t until I had a career and family before the desire became stronger than the things holding me back.
Before I started my creative exploration journey, I took stock of all the things holding me back. One worry I had was about other people judging me and anything I might create. I realized creating wasn’t about how others viewed my abilities and “talent.” Creating was about me, and how it made me feel. There would always be people who didn’t like what I made. This shift in thinking freed me up to move forward.
I’ve never looked back and never regretted committing time and energy to creativity. It fills me up and brings me so much joy!
In the beginning, I paused every few months and wrote about what I’d learned so far about creating art, and about myself. Just 1 post shy of 300 posts I decided to reflect again. Here is what I’ve learned on my creative journey:
There are ups and downs in a creative practice. Stick with it through the down times, an up time is coming, and you never know how high you’ll climb.
Practice does make (almost) perfect.
Accountability motivates you to get stuff done.
You can retrain yourself to embrace better work habits.
Armed with a list of all the things I want to try (and do) in 2015 and with a year of My Creative Resolution under my belt, I was feeling good. Until I started thinking, “Where am I going? Where is all of this leading? Am I just randomly jumping from project to project?”
“Here is where we are right now, so we go from here. We begin with one small step…It’s in doing the work that we see the next step.”
“It’s well worth our time to make work without a goal or end product in mind.”
“Try things. Learn what you need to know, and who you are too. Skills open us up to more ideas and possibilities.”
To me it all meant – calm down and continue what you are doing. Continue being creative, continuing exploring new things. Before reading the book, I planned on looking through my work from last year, and years prior, to look for common elements in subject and style. (To convince myself I wasn’t working randomly) The book elaborated on this and suggests “looking for connections throughout your work in theme, point of view, materials, etc., and noticing variations and change points.”
I’m excited to analyze my work up to this point. And to continue one step at a time.
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