17 Aug Relaxing and Creating: More Complicated Than it Seems!
Relaxing and creating sounds like a comfy Sunday afternoon activity, doesn’t it? I started this project to help people overcome their fear of being creative, or to get back to being creative after a break, but as I have got deeper in have realized that relaxing through creating is only a small part of this picture. I have come to realize that it is also about working through stress, becoming mindful about the way we approach the work, having to overcome our inner critic, giving ourselves permission to take time for ourselves, coming to trust our intuition – just for starters! It is almost as much about ‘woo woo’ things as it is about creating tangible projects.
While I have always thought of myself as being creative, there have been times when I’ve been scared to create. I’ve been concerned I’ve forgotten how to knit or sew – or sing or play the piano – as well as I did in the past when I was practicing that craft everyday. It slowly dawned on me that it was easier to not try and in that way maintain the illusion that my skills hadn’t fallen away. That fear then became my rationale for not only avoiding my fear, but also to deprive myself of the pleasure I had previously had from doing that thing.
Like most irrational thoughts this one eventually came under scrutiny and I realized that I could still do any of those things when no one else was around. I may not be playing at exam level (or anywhere near it!) but it was fun to let my fingers and muscle memory find their way around the instrument and see what they could do when I let them. Obviously any skill that requires hours of practice is going to be rusty after years of neglect, but some small part of the pleasure can still be found. The other irony in this mindset is that there is a stress inherent in not being creative. The substitute acts of wandering into craft and art supply shops, admiring work at craft fairs, lurking on Etsy simply don’t provide the same pleasure as getting your hands messy and making something of your own.
Relaxing and Creating
The other part of this problem is the judgment. Not only the judgment we fear receiving from others – who may never see our work – but that ugly, critical voice inside our own heads. The one that tells us we won’t be as good as we once were, that our work isn’t very good – or my most hated one, “It looks like a five year old made it!” It is hard to relax when you have this negative inner dialog inside your head as you try to work.
I have recently found two things that seem to help. One is to create designs with your eyes closed. It sounds odd, but if you can’t see what is happening on the page, it is hard for your inner critic to find anything to say! There is also a strange result, in that what comes out of your hand is nothing like the thing you would have drawn if you were looking, is often really beautiful. The other thing is to create covers for your pages, making hiding places to draw, write, or place your work. While the ‘hiding’ is more psychological that actual, it still leaves you feeling freer to create than if you were working in a more public way – on a canvas or something that would be harder to keep from prying eyes.