Wednesday, April 09, 2008

How do I do what I do? A ramble on creativity...

Here is the question that was posed to me by Dominique...

"How can you, as a creative person, find the right balance in doing many projects simultaneously? How do you manage to complete many projects while keeping a healthy body and mind?"

I've been thinking about this question for about two weeks now. Pondering the question of creativity and how I shoe-horn it in to my life, made me question...what the heck am I doing? The answer slowly revealed itself to me. How do I do what I do?

I make multitudes of lists. While I am sitting in class at school or waiting for a computer to reboot (endlessly) at work, I make lists. Lists for arts/crafts/ideas I want to try. Lists for books I want to read. Lists of upcoming knitting projects. Sometimes I make the same list more than once but making the list multiple times takes me that much closer to fruition. Having such limited time means I need to distill the idea until it becomes very clear to me what I want to do. Once I'm there, I can execute it in fairly short order.

Be satisfied with small bits of progress. I find I just about lose my mind if I don't take time to knit at least every other day, and I'm better if I can get a few rows in every day. While I'm not adding a huge chunk onto my project, at least I have touched it and that soothes me like nothing else.

Finding creativity in the most mundane things. I carry my camera everywhere and try to keep my eyes tuned to the easily overlooked. I also try to look at activities that wouldn't be considered artsy in a creative light. Making bread. Digging a hole for a plant. Even cleaning the house with an economy of movement and a song in my head can be satisfying (well, not as satisfying as making a collage, but I try!).

Taking it all less seriously, although this is not easy as art has always had an elevated status in my mind. Somewhere inside me, I feel like I need to take it seriously, as if some collector was going to come across a pile of my stuff and say "Oh! You undiscovered genius! I will be your patron!" and shower me with accolades and cold hard cash. I need to remember that I'm doing this for myself, and that is all.

My creative life is quite limited right now. I have so many obligations: a full-time job, part-time school, full-time mama/wife/family member...I could keep going but won't for fear of overwhelming myself. I'm finding that I like to work on several things at once instead of slogging through one project at a time, despite the fact it feels counter intuitive (wouldn't it be faster to concentrate on one thing? for me, the answer is no). Despite lack of time, I still manage to end up with finished objects and I think that creativity in my life is one of the few things that keeps me sane (sane-r?). I also look ahead to the future for when I might have more time to undertake larger projects or expand my arsenal of the crafts that I do.

Thanks so much, Dominique, for bringing this question my way. It's been quite enlightening and cleared out a few mental cobwebs.


Dominique said...

Thanks for playing along, it is very interesting to read how people do it.

For many people, creativity is definitely THE word right now. It's normal, we all need to be «us», we all need to use our imagination, we all need to feel alive.


Claire said...

Well said. I work on several projects at once because (a) I have a terrible attention span and (b) some projects need time to percolate in my head a bit.

Great post!

Susan said...

Thanks for sharing. Great insight!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. I am very much the same. I always have a ton of in progress projects, from different areas of creativity, sewing, design, art for art's sake, gardening, cooking, etc. I find that I need to have a wide variety too.

And, ohhhh the lists!

raining sheep said...

Hi Ani...I agree about taking your camera everywhere...even the most everyday things can look beautiful.

Ani said...

thanks for all the feedback, friends! it was fun to ponder this question.