Mindfulness is all about observation, and so is drawing. Both require you to slow down and pay close attention to what’s in front of you. Drawing is a great way to practice mindfulness because it allows you to be focused in the present moment - in what is happening right in front of you. And mindfulness can help people who think they can't draw (like me!) because it helps to release the judgement and harsh criticism that keeps people feeling stuck.
Somewhere, somehow, I’ve developed a habit of trust. Trust in myself, but more importantly, trust in the process of creation itself. Somewhere I’ve become convinced that if I give my all to a creative project, it will give me something in return. I will struggle, and I will very possibly fail, but the effort will be worthwhile no matter what.
Curiosity is a beautiful thing, but only when it isn’t an obstacle to doing your creative work.
It’s all too easy to keep putting off getting started because you just need a little more information. It can create a powerful mental block that tells you that you’re not ready, you don’t have everything figured out, and you won’t succeed without having it all mapped out ahead of time. I’ve learned that there is no such thing as ‘having everything figured out.’
“How do you take a big idea and break it down so you know what to do for 15 minutes or an hour, in the time that you have? Anything I could do today seems too small to make a difference.”
This all-or-nothing thinking trap is a particularly sticky one. It can be so hard to start a project that you’ve been thinking about for a long time because it tends to build up in your mind to the point where getting started feels hopeless. And things get especially tough when you have tried to work on it but haven’t seen the results you want. The answer? Put a stop to the mind games and sit down and do the work - no matter how much or little time, money, or energy you have.
The idea of wasted time has always created a lot of internal struggle for me. When I was 12 I already felt like I was running out of time, wasting my childhood away. It’s sad really, how much of my life I have spent feeling like I should be doing something else, and I’m determined to change that thought pattern.
I've developed a bit of a collection of books with creative prompts - some of which I've worked through from start to finish, and some of which I dip into when I'm feeling stuck. They can help get projects going, but they also encourage the practice of creative play, which is super important. Creative play is anything that gets you energised and feeling good about making stuff. Something that requires some effort but isn't too challenging, and that stretches your perceived creative capacity. It can be a warm-up to other activities, a springboard to starting something new, or the purpose itself.
To keep this blog happening every week, I usually plan topics a month or two ahead of time so that I’m not scrambling on Monday to decide what to write. Usually it works quite well. But every now and then I look at the calendar and I despise every single thing in it. No I do not want to write about my feelings today. Who could possibly care about that time I went on that trip. Everything on the list is boring, stupid, lame, boring, dumb, stupid. So what do I do? Scroll Facebook, scroll Instagram, look at the calendar, scroll some more. And then, eventually, I sit down and write a post.
Magic. What do you think of when you hear the word? Men in tuxedos waving silk scarves? A boy with a zigzag scar on his forehead? A card game played in the corners of comic book shops?To me magic is what creativity feels like when it’s working properly. It feels like a tiny tear in the shiny gloss of everyday life where something not of this world can sneak in. And it’s something I have spent my whole life seeking.
Have you ever noticed how powerful it can be to make a decision? How focused you become when you go from the uncertainty of multiple options to the clarity of one single choice? It can happen with decisions as simple as where to go for dinner or which art project to start on first, to as complex as what city to live in or whether to have kids or not. Once you make the decision, all the other options fall away and you can focus on enjoying your meal, or packing your bags.