Today I want to share with you some thoughts and an exercise about how we can be gentle with ourselves and explore the barriers that prevent us from showing up to our creative practice.
I am just slowly getting dialed back into work after taking some much-needed time away. I would like to say that I spent the holidays resting up, but in reality, I spent much of it pouring through edits and revisions for my book. I haven’t shared much about the creative process with you all yet (mostly because I am so deeply in it right now I can’t gather much perspective!) What I will say right now is it is intense, joyous, rewarding, and incredibly demoralizing at times. As with any creative venture the roller coaster of the creative process is alive and well for me each day.
I have been reflecting a lot lately about the barriers and obstacles on the creative road. Some of these are real but many of these are fictions that we have authored and hold tight to. Do any of the sound familiar?
“I don’t have the right space or studio to make what I want”
“I will need more time or new supplies to start that project”
“I am not inspired and don’t even know what I would make”
All these things are abundantly real… and yet also malleable. Each belief we hold may be grounded in a real-life barrier but if we shuffle to the side just a bit, we can also see a way over the obstacle. The trick is to soften our attachment to how we think things need to unfold and shuffle.
I want to share with you 3 examples of how I am softening and shuffling in my own creative practice right now.
#1 Stolen Sketchbooks
Obstacle: I want to sketch & collage, but I have no ideas/inspiration for the blank page.
Shuffle Solution: I have created a “stolen sketchbook” a book that I fill with my takes of other artist’s work. Often, I will go to my Pinterest boards and find art that I love and then sketch, paint or collage my own version of this. I don’t have to come up with the idea, figure out composition, colour etc. I simply copy another artists creation! This is liberating because what always happens is that I end up taking a bit of a different path, changing things somewhat, and it ends up being my own in the end. My stolen sketchbook is a safe place for me to play, learn and create. My big picture why isn’t to make original things but rather create and with that as my metric it feels like a grand success!
Below is one of my stolen images...
#2 Stitch Journal
Obstacle: I am simply too tired to conceive of and commit to a big embroidery project.
Shuffle Solution: I have just begun making a stitch journal, essentially this is small pieces of fabric where I play with stitches, ideas, and colours. At the end I will stitch the fabric pieces together into a simple book. This is my way of stitching in a low stake’s loose way. I have decided to only stitch circles to keep super simple. My goal is to keep stitching and to experience the meditative quality of it not to make a masterpiece, so this lets me achieve that!
Below is the beginning two panels of my Stitch Journal...
#3 Micro Chunks
Obstacle: I am committed to writing my book on a deadline but at times I am empty, uninspired, and overwhelmed at the magnitude of it (not to mention Omicron is wreaking havoc on my childcare and life schedule!)
Shuffle Solution: Instead of waiting to find the time to write in big chunks or expecting myself to push through exhaustion I am writing in tiny little bits. I have broken down my work into micro chucks and pick away at it bit by bit. I am nearing the finish line and so far, the vast majority of my writing has happened in 30 minute- 2-hour chunks of time never anything more. This is partly utility but partly by design. As the saying goes, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” to which I would add “and then and another and another and another…”
Spend some time thinking about the following questions to help you shuffle towards your creative goals….
Why are you creating?
What are 3-5 barriers right now stopping you from creating the way you want to?
Which of these barriers are fundamentally true and which ones can you let go of?
Start with your big picture why in mind and take one of your barriers, come up with 2-3 ways you can shuffle just a bit around it.
You may have ideas or solutions or you may be feeling some big feelings and struggling to find answers. All of that is welcome. No right or wrong here or end goal to reach, just a reflective process to be in. Now consider:
What feelings show up for you as you think through all of this? Consider depicting this feeling using shape, line, colour or words on a piece of paper.
Place your hand on your heart, offer yourself some love and compassion for daring to look at a challenge in your life with more intimacy today.
Thanks so much as always for being her with me. I hope you found some compassion for yourself and insight as you stretch ever so gently towards living a creative life.