I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used that phrase as an excuse not to do something creative. The thing is, most of the time I don’t see it as an excuse; I just don’t feel like focusing my attention on a project, and if I won’t focus, what’s the point?
Most of the chatter about creativity includes the advice to just show up, whether you’re in the mood or not. The act of just showing up and getting down to work on a project is half the battle, be that project a novel or a gym workout. This is the battle that is hard to win, because in the end, you are accountable to no one but yourself.
It’s also interesting to note that certain emotions seem to contribute to creativity. Often, my writing is fueled by negative emotions. Hurt, betrayal, confusion, anxiety and fear drive me to put my thoughts on paper in an attempt to figure them out and calm them. (I’m really afraid that if anything ever happened to me and someone found my journals, he or she would think I was a complete train wreck.) Conversely, with artistic projects, I feel I do better and more productive work when I am feeling happy, loved and secure. I’m more accepting and less hard on myself when an idea does not work out, and more willing to try new things and take some risks. I never subscribed to the theory that you have to suffer for your art. For me, art is not about the expression of pain or loneliness, but about creating something beautiful that lifts the spirit, and I am most comfortable doing that from a happy perspective.
So how do we get to the happy place? I’ve spent hours reading about this. Both Martha Beck and Gretchen Rubin suggest that we find happiness by being true to ourselves and following our passions. I think it also has to do with surrounding ourselves with people who love and support us and want us to succeed, and being thankful for the blessings we have in our lives. Really, sometimes all we need is to put a little perspective on our problems, compared to what so many people around the world face every day. At that point, it seems like a privilege to be able to worry that we’re not feeling in the mood to be creative today!
Shifting the subject slightly, it’s been five months since I started the blog, and I thought a progress report might be in order.
So, good news first… I am getting close to having the main stitching done on Father Winter. It was kind of a surprise when I realized this – I was beginning to feel like it would go on forever! I still have the beading and all the backstitching, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Yay! I have to confess that I often choose to do embroidery over other projects, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I do this for the following reasons:
- it’s soothing;
- the progress is visible;
- there’s a pretty product at the end of it; and (this might be a biggie)…
- I don’t really have to think about it. The design is already drawn and charted, so all I have to do is execute. This raises some interesting (and kind of depressing) questions about creativity vs. skill. Stitching is not particularly creative unless you create the design; it is a skill that is perfected by lots of experience and attention to detail. It is beautiful and well-crafted, but it’s someone else’s creativity, like paint by numbers.
As far as the scrapbooking goes, I’ve pushed it to the back burner, but hope to get back on the horse soon. My writing has been limited to this blog; I think I need a deadline to make me sit down and do it. I’ve often thought about NaNoWriMo, but it scares me. I planned to bite the bullet and do it in October, but I threw a monkey wrench into the works by getting cast in “A Christmas Story” at the GCP, so that will have to wait. The creative aspects of being in a show belong to another post entirely!
I did drag out a new set of gouache paints a couple of weeks ago and play with those. I also took myself on an artist’s date to the art festival at Downtown Disney last weekend.
The diet and exercise project is plodding along. I have good days and not-so-good days. Of course, with the play, going to the gym after work is out of the question until after the new year, but one positive change is that some friends and I have started doing Pilates or walking on our lunch hour a few times a week, so at least something is getting done, even if I do have to skip my date with the elliptical.