Monthly Archives: June 2011
In the last week, my “unnecessary” creative efforts as part of 30 Days of Creativity have been small: doodles, sketches, paragraphs, jokes, and improvisations. Nothing worth sharing.
What is worth sharing is a shift in my awareness. My subconscious has been seeking out what might count as the “something” in “make something every day.” As a result, I have been noticing small moments of creativity throughout my day. I have noticed many ways I am creative in my life that I generally ignore or discount.
In small ways, I try to make beauty in my house: gardening, cleaning, playing music, laying an attractive table. I also use my creativity as I make plans and decisions: like summer vacation schedules and plans for how to get children to willingly do mundane tasks.
But, I also generate many things that did not previously exist. In the past week, I have made:
- meals – lots of them, including several new-to-me recipes, several recipes I invented, and several recipes I modified;
- lesson plans and custom worksheets;
- alterations – to make clothes fit, both for costumes and for general life;
- repairs – of damaged toys and books; and
- jokes, games, and stories to entertain my kids.
By changing my awareness to include a broad range of “creativity” rather than focusing solely on the artistic products of my endeavours, I have noticed that my life is infused with creativity. It isn’t that I am being more creative. I am simply seeing the creativity that is so natural to me that it escapes my awareness most of the time.
Are you more creative than you notice?
We dutifully tore and folded and made ugly butterflies. When we had demonstrated our work, Choy stood in front of us, folded his paper to make a crease marking a square, tore the paper to leave the square, and quickly folded a beautiful origami butterfly.
As he explained it, the original paper is our life experience. Through craft, we learn to recognize where we must prune and how we must shape this experience to make beauty.
In the context of his talk, which focused on the fact that we must acknowledge all of our own material even if we choose to censor our use of it, I took away that there will be holes in our paper if we avoid our source material (our experiences) in our work.
I loved the metaphor and decided I would learn to fold a butterfly to better remember his words of wisdom. Yesterday, I made my first two butterflies. The first was bad. The second was better. As it is with learning a craft.
I also made a crane. I have been folding cranes since I read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes in middle school. If you aren’t familiar with the story, here is a summary. Sadako developed leukemia from radiation in Hiroshima. She died having made 644 cranes while trying to fulfill an Japanese proverb and earn a wish by folding 1,000 cranes. I practiced hard for months, making hundreds of cranes, until my muscles remembered how to make them without thinking.
Now, when I fold cranes, I remember the power of practice and the need for compassion. Metaphor, beauty, craft, and wisdom all in one practice.
If you feel the need to create, you are an artist or a creative. You must claim this identity. Some part of you will suffer if you don’t. If you are called to make things, please make them.
And, if you need help claiming your Artist-Self, there are resources available. Here are 3.
- This is geared toward poets but the wisdom applies to closet creators in all media: For Closet Poets: How to Claim Your Creative Identity
- Dorothea Helms has a book especially for writers: The Writing Fairy Guide to Calling Yourself a Writer
- InterPlay provides experiential opportunities using dance and storytelling to discover your inner creative resources – even if you can’t find them when you hunt for them.
If the idea of being an artist scares and thrills you, be brave. Find people around you who will support you as you stretch into a new self-awareness. Claim your Artist-Self. You will feel better about yourself.
It took me 29 years to claim my identity as an artist. That was at least 21 years too many.
By 8, I was dancing, singing, acting, playing an instrument, and writing stories. Through the years, I kept adding new artisic experiences and skills. In college, I could tell you which plays were responsible for which poor grades on my transcript. In law school, I spent more time rehearsing than I did studying.
Even so, I denied my true nature. I tried to squeeze myself into the academic and corporate molds that were presented to me as career options. I bristled with resentment and railed against confinement, and my psyche took a beating because I didn’t face the truth.
I am an artist.
In any other group, I eventually stand out as weird: divergent, non-conformist, thinking outside the box, weirdly obsessed with beauty and depth of emotional experience. In a crowd of artists, I belong.
I want you to feel that sense of belonging, too. So, please, if you feel a creative tug, indulge it, support it, encourage it. Make things. And call yourself an artist. Call yourself a practising artist or a novice artist if you have to, but call yourself an artist.
It may make all the difference.This post was inspired by the video and discussion on The Artist’s Road: When Did You Know You Were an Artist?
Yesterday, I wrote about my life exploding in May and taking time from my writing. Today, I was reminded that June is the month for the 30 Days of Creativity challenge, which means today is day 1. It struck me that this is a perfect excuse for me to get myself back into a more creative routine. The 30 Days of Creativity challenge is simple: create something every day for 30 days.
It would be best for my writing habits to commit to writing every day. It would also be great for my homeschooling to create arts and crafts with the kids. But, I am in desperate need of unnecessary creativity, so I have decided just to commit to creating something everyday in June. I know from past experience that creating things without a purpose frees up my willingness to create the things I must make even when I am feeling overwhelmed.
Plus, it would be fun to dig out my pastels and paints. And I could use some fun. So, in the spirit of play, I am digging out my creative toys and seeing what happens. I dedicate the next 30 days to unnecessary creation.
I find the 30 days of Creativity website overwhelming, so I am not sure that I will be posting my work in the collective space or engaging with the community, but I look forward to sharing some of what I make here.
Today, to keep it simple, I just made colour blocks with chalk pastels.