Making the Commitment to Show Up

Last week when I shared some thoughts on developing a dedicated creative practice, a lot of interesting comments, and ideas, and reminders came up that helped me (re)start the journey.

Before, sitting down to create when I didn't feel like it sounded like icky forcing - but these last few days of showing up for the practice felt far from icky. Each day starts off a bit awkward, but after just a few marks, I often find myself lost in doodling or finding clarity. (And not always, but that's okay!)

Art Journaling on the couch

I've discovered that not having expectations around what I do, leaves room for me to simply focus on showing up and staying present. I have yet to feel like I want to write or draw or paint... but I know I want to have a creative practice.

So each day, at the same time, I simply show up and make a mark.

No pressure. No desired outcome. Just openness and a mark.

Having grandiose ideas around the practice would just make it feel like a big heavy thing on my 'to-do' list that would likely lead to fits of the 'I-don't-wanna's'! I also know that if I continued on as I was, only creating when the mood strikes, I would show up less and less until perhaps one day I'd find myself not being able to call myself 'creative' at all.

Allowing myself to make crap day after day ensures that I'm present and ready for the moments when the muse (or the universe or creative flow) decides to flow through me.

It just takes some trust and consistency in showing up. And yes, it's hard.

Commitment may not fit into our glamorous idea of being creative, but it's what works, and it's what nourishes us.

Like my mentor, Kate Swoboda, so timely said in a recent blog post: "We need to water our personal selves much like we water plants." It's not about whether you have the time, or whether or not you know what to do - "It's about a choice to step into consistently practicing the things that make your life feel better."

So if creative expression makes your Soul feel alive, as it does mine... what are you waiting for?

All it takes is a devotion to make a mark each day. You never know where it might lead!



Always in curiosity and love,



>> I'D LOVE TO KNOW - WHAT ARE YOU READY TO COMMIT TO?



Thoughts on Developing a Creative Practice

Over the last decade of diving into how we humans can return to creativity later in life, one thing has always eluded me (or is it perhaps one thing I've been resisting?).

It is the question of whether we need to have a dedicated daily or weekly practice in order to truly deepen into our creativity.

I've always leaned toward 'no', seeing as though I consider myself a lifelong creative and I have never had a consistent practice. I would always ride the ebb and flow of my inspiration and curiosity while releasing any tensions, or built up energy, through writing and scribbling. But this past year has got me thinking that I may be wrong.

Being my naturally curious self, my mind begins to wonder about the differences between my new martial arts dedicated practice, and my lifelong 'do-when-I-feel-like-it' creative practice.

At the beginning of every karate class the students say a creed that ends with: "We are dedicated! We are motivated! We're on a quest to be our best!" For almost two years I've been hearing my kids and the others shout this at the top of their lungs three times a week. It makes it easy for me to tell my girls that we're dedicated and going anyway when they whine about not being in the mood to go to the dojo. Hence, when I decided to step into the practice myself this past March, it felt only natural to promise that I'd show up to every class unless I had a really good reason to miss it.

There were many times at the beginning of my martial arts journey that I wanted to skip class. I was too tired, or too sore, or just not in the mood... but I forced myself to go anyway - because of the promise I made myself, but also because I didn't want my kids seeing it was okay to skip it whenever they felt like it.

So I continued to show up week after week, and eventually the showing up got easier. It became more habitual, more 'normal'. (Well, maybe not normal based on how obsessive I've become!) Now, it's just something we DO. It's part of our life that's inseparable from us.

And yet...

When we took off for a two week vacation to my Aunt's beautiful home, with karate gear in tow and full intentions of practicing often... we ended up only doing it once. Even though we had plenty of time and space to do what we will.

It just goes to show: inspiration and willingness aren't always enough to get you into action.

I used to think I just wasn't inspired enough to create when I wasn't feelin it, so I'd wait it out. Many times creative bursts would return, but this last dry spell has been stretching far and wide. I actually did find inspiration here and there over the last few months. And I do have the desire to explore the path of drawing... but it has yet to happen. Perhaps all that's missing is my will to make it happen with a dedicated practice.



Always in curiosity and love,



>> I'D LOVE TO KNOW - DO YOU HAVE A DEDICATED PRACTICE IN YOUR LIFE? TELL ME ABOUT IT BELOW!



What I’ve Learned From My Creative Rut

(click here if you can’t view the video)


I’ve spent the past four months in a creative rut. How did I get out of it? Well, it began with getting out of my own way.

You see, whether you realize it or not there’s a natural ebb and flow to our creative cycle. Sometimes we’re completely inspired, and sometimes we’re just not. There are these natural ups and downs, kind of like a roller coaster ride.

And I’ve been finding myself in that really low point for the past few months. So I just wanted to speak into that because I know from experience that being in this state can be really scary at times.

Thoughts can cross your mind such as “Will I ever get my creativity back?” and it leads you to start fighting against it and trying to force yourself to create. But the more you fight for it and try to force it, the harder it is to get back into the flow again.


It’s like you’re hitting a wall, and no matter how hard you push, you just can’t create.
(click to tweet)

But going through these ups and downs is a natural part of our creativity. As long as you’re aware of that, you’re going to be okay. So, if you’re a blogger and haven’t blogged for a while… there’s no need to apologize. If you’re a creator, and you’re in the space of not being able to create, there’s no need to beat yourself up for that.


It was when I finally let go of the fighting and was able to accept the space that I was in, that it finally started to turn around.

So it’s that fighting against it that really prevents you from getting back into the flow. And as soon as you can release that tension and give in to the flow, you start to move along again, which will eventually bring you back into a creative high.


But just because you realize you’re in this flow, it doesn’t mean you should sit back and do nothing when you’re in the low.

You want to let go of struggle, but you should also be gathering inspiration, surrounding yourself with what you really want to be doing, and taking the steps to get back into your flow. But none of this works if you don’t first remember to give in to the flow.

When I was finally able to let go and accept where I was at, I started to become more aware and open to all of the inspiration surrounding me.

With my recent experience, two things helped to propel me out of it, after letting go:

#1.
Accountability
– As you may know, I’ve been going through an intensive training to become a life coach, and my mentor Kate said next month we’ll be taking a break to focus on marketing and she’ll be taking a look at our websites to give us feedback.

This put me in a bit of a panic, as I haven’t updated my site in so long, and there’s so much I’ve learned about marketing in the last few years that I haven’t implemented yet. So I got really inspired and motivated to start working on it again to bring it up to my own standards… so that when she does come to offer me feedback, it’s going to be something valuable for me to hear and grow from. (So expect a website update hopefully by the end of the month!)

#2
Inspiration
– During one of my random wanderings on the internet one day, I came across a creative exercise that was connected to what I had been thinking about. And it just hit me the right way and really inspired me. If I hadn’t given into my creative flow and surrounded myself with what I wanted to be doing, I may not have come across this inspiration.

This magical combination of accountability and inspiration really helped to propel me into a high creative state. Now ideas are coming from every which way and my only problem is deciding which idea to pursue first!

So if you find yourself in that creative low, my suggestion to you is to first become aware of your own creative cycle and stop pushing. Let yourself go with the flow. Then, seek out some inspiration and accountability. Perhaps get together with a friend, join a community, take an e-course, or something similar that’s going to give you the accountability and inspiration.


Now, I’d love to hear from you: Is there anything that you have found that helped bring you out of a creative slump in the past? Leave a comment below and let’s chat about it!

Make the Most of Your Creative High

For the last few weeks, I’ve been talking about the ebb and flow of creativity and how you have to just go with the flow. I’ve also shared with you my personal 4 step process for getting back into the flow and avoiding long term artist’s block. So today, I’d like to talk about what you can do during your UP time in order to make the most of it. 

(click here if you can’t view the video)



Tip #1.

Keep Notes

Keep a journal or a running list of ideas you have, inspiration, projects and techniques you want to try. That way when you’re ready to create, and not sure what to do, you can always pick something off your list to try.



Tip #2.

Fill Your Well

Always be on the lookout for inspiration, you don’t want your inner “well” to become dry, stagnant, or blocked!



Tip #3.

Create Daily

The more you create, the easier it becomes. Making it a habit to create daily will not only help you to stay in the flow, but it will help you perfect your craft that much faster.



Tip #4.

Bridge the Gap

On longer projects, where you know you’ll have to come back to it at a later time, stop when you know what you’re going to do next. That way, when its time to come back to the project, you already know what you need to do to start, and you can easily get back into the flow of creating.



What do you do to keep yourself in the creative flow? Leave a comment below!



Get Back in the Flow

Artist's BlockLast week I talked about the ebb and flow of creativity, and how you just have to ride the wave. 

But that doesn’t mean you have to sit back and do nothing until your creativity returns. Au contraire! You need to take this down time to gather new inspiration, reflect on your life, and prepare for the new rush of creativity to take over. Otherwise, you may just be looking at a case of artist’s block.

As promised, I’m sharing with you today my personal four step process for getting back into the flow and avoiding long term artist’s block. Follow this formula, and you should be back up and creating in no time!

Step 1. 
Reflection

When I first start to feel my creativity drain from me, I take a step back and see if there is a source of frustration in my life. Most times, when there are other things bothering me, its almost impossible to obtain the focus needed to get in the flow of creating. So, I take a short break from creating to try and resolve or find peace with whatever it is that is bothering me in life.

Try This: Grab a cheap notebook and your favorite pen, then find a comfy spot to sit. Spend at least ten minutes free flow writing. Don’t worry about what you’re writing about, just start writing anything. Don’t interrupt your thoughts, don’t analyze them, just write until it all comes out. When you feel you’re finished, go back and read what you wrote; looking for clues as to what may be the deepest source of frustration. If you do discover something, one tip to coming to terms with it is to ask yourself, “Is this something I have control over?”, if so, “What can I do about it today?”.
 

Step 2. 
Rest

If there’s nothing distracting me from creating, or when I finally get past what was bothering me, my next step is to relax my right brain. I focus on exercising other parts of my brain that thrives on organization and process like sorting my craft supplies, or cleaning.

Try This: Take a day or two away from creating to catch up on house work, organizing your studio, or other mundane or routine tasks.
 

Step 3. 
Filling Your Well

After some time of rest and reflection (which should take no more than 2-3 days), its time to start building up momentum again. I start by “filling my well” with new inspiration. I like to find inspiration in magazines, books, my old journals, nature, by learning a new technique, buying new supplies, and more.

Try This: Go out on an inspiration hunt. Take a walk, visit the library, or go exploring to nearby places you’ve never been before. Take your camera along and keep your eyes open for inspiring color combinations, shapes, and textures. (And don’t miss next week’s post where I’ll be sharing my favorite places to find inspiration!)
 

Step 4. 
Finding the Flow

When I’m ready, I like to get back into creating with some simple exercises. Jumping back in expecting a beautiful finished piece is never fruitfull. So, I take it easy, start slow, and warm myself up.

There are many different warm up exercises that can help you get back into the flow of creativity, you just need to find what works for you. I have two favorites…

Try This: Turn on your favorite music, and tell yourself “I’m just going to play today.” Use your favorite medium to let loose, have fun, get messy, experiment, and make mistakes. Simply showing up and putting that pen or brush to paper is much like going to the gym. It’s hard to get there, but once you do, you will feel much better.

Try This: Give yourself a specific set of rules, such as only focusing on flowers using acrylics. Often when working within a set of rules, ideas will start popping up of new ways to expand on those rules. It’s like working within the box suddenly frees your mind to think outside of the box.

These four steps should be all it takes to get you back into the grove again. But above all, just relax and don’t fret about it. Take this time to catch up on other work, discover new inspiration, and just know that you will be going up that “hill” on the roller coaster again soon! Ride the wave. Go with the flow.

Do you have any tips or exercises that help you get back into the flow of creating? Please share with us by leaving a comment!