Welcome to Coach’s Corner where I offer some thoughts on the creative process and breaking through moments of self-doubt.
There seems to be an unwritten rule that after a certain age, everything we do must be for a purpose. Emphasis is placed on learning what will be on the test. We are constantly being asked what we “want to be when we grow up.” The courses taken in high school determine what will be studied in college or university, or what vocation we will pursue. What we study must lead to a paying job or an increase in salary. Even our hobbies are now documented online for likes and building a following.
If there isn’t a foreseeable, profitable, purpose to an activity, it is seen as a waste of time.
It becomes so easy to dismiss taking time for anything creative. We should be spending our time working toward some immediate purpose that benefits everyone else.
Except that we all need some outlet, some way to experience play, in order to replenish our energy, to wake up and face the day. So we assign our creativity a purpose. Adult coloring books are huge. We are discovering the joy of coloring, which permits us to take time for ourselves, and to explore self-expression, without judgement. But to make it a legitimate past-time, we say we color for the therapeutic purpose of ridding ourselves of stress.
Not long ago, I had just finished writing a novel and wanted a couple of days away from the computer before I started a new writing project. I still wanted to do something creative, just something different. I decided I’d try my hand at sewing a costume. I rarely sew. It takes me forever to thread a needle. But this was just for fun so who cares what it looked like, or how long it took me to thread the needle?
I bought the cheapest material and had a great couple of days to myself pinning and cutting and stitching the pieces together. As I was going along, I began envisioning the beauty that the final product was going to be. I started planning which local cosplay contests I should enter. This was surely a winner! I had to admonish myself several times. This was just for fun. For the weekend only, then it was back to writing.
I needed to justify taking a weekend to do something other than writing, or cleaning, or working.
But when I started thinking about entering contests, I became anxious, and a perfectionist, and needed to take a break. When I reminded myself it was just for a bit of fun, I turned the music back on, sang, and danced a little as I worked, laughing at the errors I made, and cheering my progress. I didn’t even mind that when I tried the costume on, I discovered I’d forgotten to cut a couple of the pattern pieces. Oops! Good thing it was for fun!
Whether you create art as a hobby, in a professional capacity, or in the hopes of making a living at it, it is difficult to consistently take time for yourself and your art.
Without a foreseeable promise of financial or social gain, it can be daunting, knowing that it could be years before you see any kind of reward, or even a finished project.
How do you motivate yourself, then, to keep returning to your art? To see it through to completion?
Be in the moment. Designate your creative time as time for yourself. Think only about the project at hand. If it helps to set a time limit, do so. That time, then, is yours, to be creative. To express yourself. To play. Without any expectation. The business side, if you’re hoping to go, or are a professional, can wait. The family and the household chores, can wait.
When we allow ourselves that time to play, to be creative, we expand our minds, our hearts, and our souls.
I’d love to hear from you! What is your creative outlet? How will you keep that creative time for yourself?