Trusting the creative energy cycle – action to take in the moments you are stuck

Hi everyone, how are you doing?

It’s been a busy week at this end and a slightly late Blog Post due to an accident last night, my daughter dropped a glass on the floor and a piece bounced into her big toe, sliced her nail in half and cut the end of her toe! So, trip to A&E and a large comical bandage on for a week but she’s fine, just a little shocked at the time!

This last week I’ve been heeding my own advice given in my last post with lots of walks catching up with friends, as a family we are making yummy autumnal dishes and I’m really getting my creative game on. As I said last time, there is something very special about this Season that makes you want to get fully involved and enjoy all it has to offer.

It seemed only right, given all this natural inspiration and energy coming in droves, that this is what I should talk about during my @psychologiesmagazine live yesterday. It was my 9th ‘Gain Creative Confidence’ session and I really enjoy chatting to the magazine’s readers about all things creative, much like I do here really.

The cosy jumpers are out in full force!
Another reason why I love Autumn!

Recently I’ve added all the links to these sessions on to my website, so if you ever want an extra boost of creativity with some challenges too, head on over there and watch the half-hour sessions and you’ll find yesterday’s session here.

My excitement for Autumn got me thinking about how my creative energy really ebbs and flows and it’s only now, now that I’ve been doing this a good few years, that I finally trust in this natural internal process, rather than trying to force it to happen. Nothing challenges the creative mind more than staring at a blank piece of paper when you are just not feeling it and getting increasingly frustrated and mad at yourself.

In a way I’m lucky I realise in that I regularly have several different kinds of creative projects on the go, that all require different elements of process. So, that means if the artistic ideas aren’t flowing, maybe doing some research for a writing project, or getting clear on the next 3-month’s plan for my Art cards is the more appropriate thing to do.

It’s easy to slip into self-destruction mode, get annoyed and think right I’m not going to do anything creative then, and occasionally stomp off in a huff, when actually there are many micro-steps that could be taken, that will still make you feel like you are moving forwards – and that’s the key to not feeling stuck and completely exasperated.

Plus, whilst some of these tasks may feel uninspiring or even boring, this is a key part of the process too, because it is often when we feel bored, that the brain recognises this and takes action, and you’ll suddenly find an idea pops into your head when you least expect it, and hey presto, the ideas part of the journey begins again.

So, today I’m going to talk about some other parts of the process that are essential when working creatively, that you may not realise, but can absolutely make you feel like you are moving forwards, before the ‘making of the thing’ part, if you see what I mean.

What I want you to recognise is that there is real value in this, and that it is not wasted time or energy, even if it feels a little uncomfortable / annoying at the time, it all helps to build up to the bigger picture.

Whether you are right at the beginning of your creative journey and have no idea where to start or feeling stuck in the middle of one, these tips will all help to get you moving again.

Research & Prompts

If the work you are doing is visual, but you don’t know exactly where to start, play about with colours and textures, or different materials and tools to find out your preferences, what did you really enjoy, what did you really not? For example, I really don’t like the feel of pastels or charcoal, so prefer not to use these. Eliminating what you don’t like can help you focus in on the creative work you are drawn to and want to continue.

It’s hard to work from just your own mind, especially at the beginning, so another tip is to look at what others do and either work your own spin on it, or discover current trends (especially if you are wanting to sell your products). An ideal place to look is Pinterest, where so many artists pin their work and lots of demos too, so it’s a great place to start if you are still learning. Just search something that you are interested in, for example ‘Leaf Art’ and research away…

For projects like photography, it’s a case of pinpointing a subject that you are passionate about, getting really curious about it and exploring its many facets.

Also, think about the places you find yourself in, especially if you are busy and don’t have time to go to somewhere specially. What images could you take in these places? What kind of style / mood interests you? Where could you share your work? You don’t necessarily need a fancy camera; it’s about creating an approach that it is recognisably you with your content and images and you can be really quirky and individual with it.

In terms of writing, I recommend seeking out prompts if you are well and truly stuck. Often all we need is a little direction to get going, and it could set us off on a course we’d never even thought of before.

Writing Magazine offer such prompts regularly over on their Writer’s Online site and again Pinterest also hold this kind of inspiration so worth a look there too. Another option is to join a writing class, many of which have gone online at the moment, like the one I belong to.

What I love about this is you’ve really no idea what will come up and what you will be set to work on, so it truly is a creative challenge. Often the work you start in class can lead to a bigger writing project in your own time, and you get to learn from your fellow classmates too.

Planning

Get serious, and realistic about how much time you have to commit to creative projects, planning this properly avoids frustration and resentment down the line, and by scheduling it in, encourages you to really value it, especially if that time isn’t a huge amount.

You want to make the best of that time and planning it in gives you something to look forward to in your week. If it’s in your diary, it’s far more likely to happen rather than getting shoved down to the bottom of your never-ending list.

It might even be that you need to do some long-term planning if you want to change what you are doing. Ask yourself what projects really fill you with joy? What direction would you go in if you had no constraints? Do I need to earn money from what I’m doing? What is the big dream and what steps, and plans can I put in place to get closer to it?

Ruth Poundwhite, a coach who specialises in working with creative and introverted clients often suggests having a ‘business meeting’ with yourself, so that you work on the bigger picture of what you are doing rather than just ‘in’ it. It’s great advice and can really help you reflect on what you’ve already achieved and then clarify the direction you want to go in.

And if this brings up dreams of wanting to turn your skills into an actual business then the next step is really important and in some cases more important than anything else as it directs everything that you then do, providing a set of guidelines to stop indecision and make everything a whole lot easier!

Values, Ethos, Mission Statements

I could write a whole book on this subject as it’s my background when I worked in corporate land but essentially, it’s about getting crystal clear on:

>what you want to do

>why you want to do it (what is driving you?)

>who you are as a personal brand (because creative work is the epitome of ‘personal’ work – putting your heart and soul on that piece of paper, therefore you are creating a personal brand too)

>What are your key values and how does that link in harmony to what you do?  

> How you want to get all those messages across to the outside world.

This requires some big honest questions of yourself and it can take time to figure this all out, so the other piece of advice may seem contradictory BUT if this doesn’t come easy to you then JUST START anyway, and there is no doubt that later down the line, when you are putting yourself out there, creating connections and learning at the rate of knots, the answers will come to you and you’ll slowly but surely piece together all this important stuff.

And even if you don’t fully get there, this is when you then access the wealth of online support/ workshops / courses out there to help you. This area has grown so much in lock-down and is so much easier to access, even on a tight budget with many courses being free.

As the great Nicola Rae Wickham of @alifemoreinspired (and another Coach who’s Root and Rise membership I’m part of) says all the time ‘Imperfection for the win’, which basically means that showing up imperfectly is better than not at all because the World needs and wants what you are offering, you just don’t know it yet!

Nicola also says ‘Clarity loves action’ which I absolutely love and is so true, to get that much-desired clarity, you need to act!

Ask yourself questions, practice, experiment, make mistakes, learn, it all counts to moving forwards, don’t wait until everything is perfectly in place because the honest truth is it never will be, fully.

Yes, it takes some courage, and possibly a step out of your comfort zone, especially if you are a perfectionist, but that courage will boost your confidence and will feel amazing that you are choosing to do something rather than stagnating.

So, my point is, all the above steps are important to the whole picture, especially if you are wanting to move up a level and make a small business out of your creativity.

There are more elements of course and I may talk about marketing in my next post, as there is a lot to cover on that topic alone, but getting these fundamentals in place all helps hugely as to how you then talk to potential customers about yourself and your products. Because you are starting on a much surer footing that has been thought out and questioned, you’ve put in the important preparation work.

And by still taking some small steps, they soon add up and you can be proud that you’re heading in the right direction, and not stuck, and isn’t that much better than sitting staring at that blank page wondering when the creative magic will strike again?

Until next time…

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

Inspiration Corner

What has been inspiring me this week…

Listening

Podcast – On Brand With – Deborah Ogden interviews Wendy Nicholas

Deborah kicks off her new series of the fabulous ‘On Brand With’ with my good friend and WOW Wednesday member Wendy Nicholas, a formidable force in the field of well-being and I couldn’t wait to listen! Together they had a great discussion about how culture plays out in corporate business and how leaders need to lead by example, taking their well-being equally seriously in order for it to filter down to their teams, plus of course lots of advice about how to cope in this surreal experience of a pandemic. I cannot recommend this highly enough – go listen to Wendy’s soothing tones!

Podcast – Elevate your Curiosity – Joanne Griffiths of @arnoldandbird – Retail Mentor and Designer

Joanne is back with a new season and I love her short insightful episodes that focus on upcoming product trends and this week the podcast focuses on 3 key packaging trends, useful for all kind of makers!

Watching – Autumn Watch – BBC 2

By now I think you know I love Autumn and I love the BBC’s Seasonal ‘Watch’ programmes, which is right now highlighting the Autumnal beauty all across the country, including the Old Moor RSPB reserve in South Yorkshire. Follow along online too @bbcspringwatch.  

Learning from – Creativity mogul and all-round inspirational fireball!

Keeley, owner of @bloomindaleflorist who I mentioned last week has been delivering so much content on social media recently, including a fabulous live on Friday on how to create a pumpkin flower display which I had a go at myself this weekend! She’s a firm believer, like me, in working together in and celebrating her local community and has used her many pivoting ideas to not only help her own business but her entire industry, how cool and inspirational is that?!

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