Starting your creative journey is not easy and it is especially difficult when you haven’t done anything creative in a while. So much resistance needs to be pushed away in order to get started – “I can’t think of anything to make,” I don’t have the right supplies,” “I’m not a good artist anyway,” “It’s a waste of time because I never like anything I make,” and probably the biggest one “I don’t have enough time”. This is resistance and it is only leading you down an unhappy path. Instead recognize these thoughts and move forward anyway!
Recognize the thoughts
Once you recognize it, you can learn to quiet these negative thoughts. I use a technique from meditation: recognize and acknowledge the thought, then gently push it away to clear your mind. Continue this until you learn to keep your mind free of negativity (for the most part!). It is not an easy task, but you will be able to do it.
I’ve used this technique often, even beyond creating. When I was struggling with severe airplane anxiety, I used this technique, along with breathing exercises, to calm my heart and breathing before and during a flight. You can train your mind to think more positively, and it is not that difficult. It is a habit, just like any other action, and you will begin to think more positive thoughts if you consciously move your mind in that direction.
Next, focus intently on what is right in front of you – your pad, pencils, paints, cooking supplies, etc. By focusing on what is right in front of you, your mind stays in the present moment. When you are in the present moment, there is not past or future. There is only right this moment.
Start with a journal
The best way to start a creative habit is with a journal. It can be a written journal, an art journal filled with paintings, drawings, or collages, a scrapbook type journal, or a combination of any of these.
Journals allow you to explore without needing to create a finished product. Write about your day on one page, draw a fun flower on the next, doodle, record your favorite recipe, scrapbook using a photo and event tickets, collage using the days newspaper. You can do anything you want in your journal. Follow a theme, mix it up, write, paint, draw, it doesn’t matter, but what does matter is adding to your journal daily. If you only have 15 minutes before you go to bed, start with that.
Within a short amount of time you will have accomplished two things: 1. you will have a habit of creating daily, and 2. you will see some themes arise from your work, such as what you primarily like to journal about, which technique you enjoy the most (writing, drawing, etc.), and skills related to your creativity that you want to learn or improve.
Create the HABIT
Your initial goal is to just start creating. Spend time every day just for making or writing. Put it on your to-do list, set a pleasant alarm on your phone, put a post-it on the refrigerator if thats helps. Make it the first thing you do in the day or the last thing you do before bed. It doesn’t matter when you open the time in your day, it just matters that you do, every day.
If you create every day for at least a month, you will no longer need the reminder. The need to create will take over!
Grow with what you have
If you want to add to your journal or start a different art, begin with the materials you already have on hand. Unless you already have the supplies and beginner skills for a hobby, do the simplest thing you can, which includes paper, pencil, scissors, and glue. Worrying about what to do will inhibit you from just getting started. There are so many projects you can do with the simplest of supplies!
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Collage with catalogs, magazines, newspaper, wrapping paper, tissue paper
- Decoupage a wooden box or terra cotta pot
- Remake an old picture frame with collage
- Paper cutting, such as making scenes out of pretty paper
- Coloring with pencils, markers, crayons, sharpies…anything!
Choose your subject
You have your medium (above), now you need a subject. What do you want to create about? You can choose to just play with your supplies without a subject in mind. Or, choose something that has meaning to you in some way. I do both. I play when I just feel like letting loose, and I use a subject when I’m creating to release emotion or creating with a specific purpose in mind. You can use one of the my prompts or start with some of the ideas below:
Subjects to spark your creativity:
- Something you want to remember- an event, cute phrase your toddler says
- A person who means so much to you- Tell a story, list the things you love about him/her
- Littlest moments that mean so much
- Interesting things you see or experience throughout the day
- Write a letter to someone you love
- Tell someone something you want to say but haven’t (you don’t ever need to show them)
Allow yourself to create ugly things
When you first start creating, there is a chance that you won’t like anything you make. Don’t let this break your motivation! Journaling (or any art) is a skill and, just like anything else, with time and practice you will improve.
If you don’t like how your sentences flow, or if your horse drawing doesn’t look like anything you’ve seen in nature, just keep going. The purpose of a journal is to experiment, explore, and practice, not to create perfect finished artwork. Allow yourself to create ugly things and take pride in that fact that you are creating regularly. The major goal is to get what is in your head out onto paper, which will make so much difference in your daily happiness.
Enjoy the journey…and get started today!