Today the lovely Cate from Sangui(knit)ie is here to talk about fitting creativity to your life. I would love to open up the discussion on this topic, because it is such an important one. But first, let’s listen to Cate:
When choosing your next creative endeavor, do you give much thought to matching it to your life? For a very long time, I didn’t. But there’s an important balance in fitting your creativity to what your life—and you yourself—need.
In essence, it’s pretty simple: taking on a lengthy and involved project when your life is already demanding great amounts of time, emotion, or wits results in more stress instead of a happy escape or anchoring force. Similarly, when you’re in a waiting period, or if life is simply marching smoothly along, a string of simple projects may not allow you to glean much from your creative impulses, leaving you bored and uninterested in pursuing them.
When you’re busy or stressed, creativity properly executed can have a calming effect, giving us a sense of control or accomplishment that we may be craving. Choosing simple, quick, or familiar projects may soothe our stressful lives in ways nothing else can. On the other end of the spectrum, when our lives are steady and smooth or in hibernation mode, creativity acts as a pleasant distraction and an engrossing focal point. It extends our skills and challenges us right when we have the time to learn.
Fitting your creative projects to your life not only accentuates what you gain experientially, but it also allows you to get more done, because you’re no longer fighting the reality of right now. Creativity becomes addictive (in a good way!) and we free ourselves to grow and glean so much more from our lives. It leaves us with better memories of the bad times, and even sweeter ones from our good. It makes us stronger and more practiced creatively and within our own identities.
So what’s the secret to achieving this balance? It’s all about being honest with yourself, instead of ignoring what’s going on around you. What can you honestly handle right now? Is your life calling for more quick and easy? Or is it clamoring for something big, something engrossing and challenging? This can be difficult to answer truthfully when we want to constantly learn and challenge ourselves, or when we’re feeling bored or uninspired. But the learning curve—and the payoff when we brush against creative nirvana—is well worth the effort.
Do you match your projects to your life? What have you accomplished when you have?
I love your thoughts on the subject Cate, I think you make great sense. The most challenging part might be to know if (and how) something fits into your life. For example, I was involved in the creative activity of theatre about once a week for a while. I really liked it, but at one point I realized that often it would cost me more energy than it would bring me. I am an introvert by nature, and being in front of a group or being in a large group in general can be tiring for me, especially when I am going through a stressful or busy time. Drawing and painting on the other hand, is something I always feel energized from. So for me ‘whether or not I get energy from it/feel more positive afterwards’ is a huge indicator if it fits my life. I was wondering how this is in your experience and if you have any insights to add to it?
Oh, good question! I think your indicator is a good one. I also tend to bracket it in whether it takes a lot of work to do it, a lot of cajoling to myself, or I spend more time working up to it– and more energy on that– than on the project itself. This is especially relevant when you’re trying to bite off more than you can chew, which is the side of things I tend to be on, though working up to it, and feeling like you “should” just do it, is also something that happens when you’re not challenging yourself enough, because you’re not as interested or involved.
Thank you so much Cate for sharing your thoughts and insights with us. Make sure to check out her blog if you haven’t yet. As for ‘us’: how do you fit creativity to your life? When do you know you need to either take a step back or give it a bit more? I am curious about what you guys think!