Your Creative Year

Hello. Well. 2019. What do you have in store for us, I wonder?

I spent New Year’s Eve writing. Eight straight hours. Write, write, write. I worked on my middle grade manuscript the first two weeks of January, and spent the rest of the month editing and rewriting.

During that time, some of my regular business writing work slipped away. Ouch. I spent a day or two brainstorming different business ideas, and strategies to make money. But then – hey! I realised.

This is great, isn’t it? Isn’t this a sign that 2019 is really the year to take my creativity to a new level? I make a comfortable income now from my various creative projects. While there’s always a slight fizz of wonder whether the next book deal, or workshop, or festival will happen, I keep creating, and making, and putting myself out there. Now that I don’t have a cosy little business gig propelling me along, I have been given the gift of more time for my writing projects, and more impetus to make this work.

So I had a little think about ways I can charge my year creatively. Give myself the best chance I can to dig deep, and create fully. I thought maybe some of these tips might inspire you too.

Make space for your creativity

Creativity is like my husband, and my children. And me, I suppose. It does not like being told what to do. It does not like small spaces, or being restricted. It loves its freedom.

Your creativity needs space to unfurl. If you work a full-time job, raise kids, study, and all the other things you need to do, creativity is always the first to suffer. But I find that creativity doesn’t mind what shape or size the spaces are, or how inventive you need to be to make them.

Ideas for making creative space in your life include:

  • Doing the dishes (great for thinking and percolating!)
  • Going running or walking without listening to podcasts or music (also great for percolating!)
  • Driving without the radio on
  • Taking long showers
  • Going to bed without a book, or not reading first thing in the morning
  • Floating on your back in the water
  • Claiming five to ten minutes of creative time after children are in bed, or maybe parallel to children’s play
  • Heading into nature
  • Offering to babysit / child mind, and letting your thoughts drift as the children play.

Prioritise your creativity

Creativity is a prima donna. She does not like to be cast aside, or forgotten about. Just give her a smattering of attention, and a little space to grow, and she will fly! She responds especially well to flattery.

When I have some slightly less creative work to do, like pay bills, or write a blog post for someone, I always attend to my creative tasks first, work on my novel or whatever it is. I do my writing before checking social media. Before the dishes sometimes too.

Play

As well as being a prima donna, creativity is a toddler. She loves to play. ‘Remember the game!’ is the catch phrase my children use continuously, as they move fluidly between real life and some imaginary game. Your creativity likes that too. She doesn’t need to be serious, or to be analysed. She just wants to experiment, for the sake of it – no end goal necessary. She just enjoys exploring.

Watching this video for inspiration of creative play done beautifully.

Have courage

Yes your creativity can be wily. She can be a feisty beast. And she can sap you dry. But she can also be timid and fearful in a room of strangers.

Have courage. Let your creativity take a step forward, and unfurl. I always tell my school students: There is no right or wrong here. They love that, and I see their faces relax, and their pencils lift as they realise no mistakes are possible.

In a world where we are constantly watched, assessed and monitored, it takes a bit of unlearning to give ourselves permission to simply create. But give yourself permission. What do you have to lose?

Allow room for growth and change

There is no right and wrong in creativity. Sometimes, though, our creativity disappoints us. It is not as good a story as we hoped it would be. Our picture is lacking. Or creativity might seem stuck.

But there is always room for growth and change. Creativity is organic, and malleable. Sometimes, we feel more creative than others, and with enough room to expand our wings, our creativity takes us in unexpected directions. Some days, creativity feels dormant. And that’s OK too. Because tomorrow is another day.

Also, you don’t have to create the final work straight up. In fact, no one usually does! Creativity is about discovery and wandering place to place. It can take an infinite length of time to end up where we need to go. But the journey is what is important.

Listen to this podcast about the wondrous nature of creativity.

Don’t be affected by others

I wouldn’t have a creative career without social media. I mainly use Instagram these days to watch how illustrators make work. I am endlessly inspired. And all my creative connections come through social media.

But social media can hem us in, and make us feel disillusioned, and inadequate. We might feel less creative, or less able than others. Another person’s book deal might make us feel rubbish, instead of inspired. Another person’s painting might make us feel like we will never be able to paint like that.

But creativity is not a competition. You cannot assess it, or quantify it. And if comparing yourself to others on social media is getting you down, there’s a simple solution. Switch off. Prioritise creativity over social media.

Find joy

Creativity is a prima donna toddler, who doesn’t like instructions, rejection, comparison, or expectation. She sounds really difficult, right? But no. Creativity is a lovely friend. Joyful. Unexpected. Fun. The more space you make for your creativity, the more you’ll realise what good company she is. And how much better she makes your life.

Here’s to a creative 2019! Tell me your ideas about how to make 2019 a more creative year for you!

2 Comments
  • Artelle Lenthall

    January 25, 2019 at 12:13 am Reply

    So much to love in this post Zanni. Your personification of Creativity is so accurate

    • zanni

      January 25, 2019 at 9:18 pm Reply

      Thanks Artelle! Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

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