50 Ways to be Creative
I typically start the new year with optimism, a list of specific goals, and as much of a clean slate as I can create, but this year I just wasn't feeling it. Most of my free time in 2014 involved selling a house and disassembling our life in Houston, then finding a house and re-creating said life in Minneapolis. And while that project was a success, it felt like I had made little progress on any other goal, which led me down the dark alley of why-bother. We've all been there, right? It's not that I was planning on giving up or anything, it was more that my plate is full of the leftover goals from the last couple of years. Also I can't shake the notion that even though things feel smooth this month, as soon as I commit to something, the universe will shake my life snow globe again, as it inevitably does. I don't mind the occasional curve ball, but 2015 doesn't feel like the year that I want to pressure myself and then feel bad when I need to rearrange everything in order to be flexible.
In recent years as I have worked to create more. At first I did it because I was absolutely determined to find some way to make money through creating things. Now that I'm further into it, I am still interested in the professional potential of making things, but I have also noticed (almost more importantly) that I'm just plain happier when I'm making things. Finally, I have found that zen place that career counselors talk about..."where are you when hours go by and you don't want to stop?" That mental place where you don't notice the passage of time. Finally, I'm in that place, upstairs in my little studio, trying to make a knitting pattern or building the perfect t-shirt, or worrying about how to keep fabric scraps out of landfills. I've noticed over these recent years that I'm happiest when at least four or more hours a day are spent in these pursuits. I've noticed I don't even like to very often take a day off.
As part of this process of carving out those hours every day, I have developed some habits and routines to both support the effort and to make it more difficult for me to waste that precious time. One significant aspect of my routine is that I work to stay away from the black hole that is internet distraction. I am not on Facebook, and have only dabbled occasionally in Twitter. I turn the ringer off as much as possible and put the computer far away from the yarn and fabric.
On the other hand, I have bookmarked sewing and knitting blogs , and other creative websites that motivate me, for those times when I do want to be on a computer for a few minutes or when I need some inspiration for my pursuits. That way, my internet surfing can both give me a break and feed my passion.
In the beginning of 2015, after a quiet and goal-free New Year's Eve, I visited some of those blogs in the process of getting inspired for my next creation. Several of the designers and makers had charted their progress from 2014, tracking their total numbers of made items. I was impressed and intimidated, and feeling like a maker-imposter, due to my own perceived lack of progress.
And then I wondered about my own totals. Due to the move and the baby, I had very low expectations for any progress having been made. However, it turned out that my number was not bad. It's a little meaningless what it actually was, since I didn't make any goals related to sheer output, but the way that I decided to calculate what went on in my creative world last year was to tally creative acts. I counted blog posts and the new website, since they are tied to my creative process. I totaled those with items knit and sewn, and any illustration or pattern work. And I was pleasantly pleased to learn that my total of creative acts for 2014 was around 50. Which is to say that during a year when I felt that I had gotten nowhere and accomplished almost nothing, I had actually engaged in approximately a creative act per week.
That small piece of information makes me more excited to keep working on those intimidating past goals, because as it turns out, even if they didn't get crossed off the list yet, I am making progress, in spite of life being very much in the way. I feel rejuvenated and excited about 2015 and also less troubled by what I will do when the next whirling dervish throws down a speed bump.
Make goals and carry on.