Raise your hand if you have a Pinterest board with enough inspiration to fuel a lifetime of crafting and interior decoration. You probably also have a list – in your bullet journal, a notebook, a file – with all the creative projects you want to do, someday: paint-dip your chairs, redo your living room or make a 3D paper deer head.
The quest for creativity in everyday reality
But then you worked all day. You’re tired. You can’t even muster the energy to finish your taxes, laundry or dishes. And although hypothetically speaking, you feel like you would like to do something creative, Netflix whispers your name. You deserve some relaxation after all. So you spend the first half of your evening deciding what to watch, and waste away your second half on a mediocre movie that you knew deep down was going to be a disappointment all along.
Invite creativity: lower the barrier to action
When I was exploring new ways to bring creativity into my life, I took some of my own advice that I give in ‘From Dreamer to Doer’: lower the barrier to action.
Making a 3D paper deer head is part of my creative dream list, in which I define 5 creative dreams I want to accomplish, execute them, and then move on to the next five.
Before picking a new project for my creative dream list however, I defined three clear project characteristics. Then I had a look at my list containing all my once-upon-a-time-creative-project-ideas. And found a contender.
Make a 3d paper deer head.
Here is why I chose this project to work on:
Project characteristic #1: Minimal initial start-up effort
Some projects need loads of start-up effort. Decision fatigue sets in. Your comfort zone yells you back. You need a hedge fund. You are dependent on others for progress. Creative barriers are real, y’all.
Starting the 3d paper deer head project only takes a few simple steps:
- Buy the print I already know I like best [I bought my deer trophy template here].
- Decide if it’s possible to print at home or if it is better to get it printed.
- Compare shops for prices to get the paper printed.
- Order paper.
Project characteristic #2: Start and finish easily at any time.
I wanted something that I can get up and running in say 2 minutes from the moment I decide to start, and also close it down in 2 minutes.
Some activities require more preparation than others. When I paint, I protect the table I’m working on. Get out my supplies. Afterwards I need to clean my brushes. The mere thought of that can become a barrier to get started at all.
Or take photography. If you want to use natural light, it may be more challenging to start or finish at any time. The dusk sets in after 17.00 now in winter. If I want to practice my photography skills it would be really hard to do so at night.
For my chosen project though, I just need to move around my paper and scissors to start and finish easily any time I want.
Project characteristic #3: The activity duration can be flexible.
I wanted an activity that once I got started, I can just as easily do for 5 minutes as for 2 hours.
There is no way I’m going to paint a wall if I only have 5 minutes. Similarly, if I were to write a story, 5 minutes would be just enough to get warmed up and into where I left off. On the other end of the spectrum, painting my nails is not going to take 2 hours.
What is so neat about creating my 3D paper deer head, is that most of the work only requires paper, scissors and a precision knife. If I want to cut out parts for 10 minutes, I will have made progress. But if I make some tea, listen to an audio book, and cut and fold paper for 2 hours, it can also easily extend for that long.
The activities only became more challenging near the end
The last part of the creation took a bit more effort: cutting and painting the wooden headboard, spray-painting the deer head, painting the antlers piece by piece. But the good thing was, that it was at the end, not the beginning. At this point I was invested. I invested so many hours, that I was excited to see it all come together, finish it, and finally have it hang on my living room wall.
Countless creative moments
It took me about 8 months to complete this deer head. Sometimes I would craft for an hour. Other times I wouldn’t touch the project for weeks on end.
But you know what? When I look back, I don’t think ‘Woahh, it took me forever to finish this project. Why did I even bother to start? No, this is what I see:
I successfully created countless moments to invite creativity into my everyday life and lower the barrier to do so on a regular base.
I can’t even count the number of creative moments that this project brought me. Having a friend over for coffee while both working on our creative projects. Chatting to Joran while he was cooking. Listening to audiobook 1, 2, 3 while gluing bits together.
Even when I had a bad day, working on the deer head made me feel accomplished for creating something with my hands. It can be extremely satisfying to see concrete result and progress from making or repairing things in the physical world.
Don’t create for the final result, create because you enjoy the process.
Create because you’d rather spend your evening sewing, drawing or writing than consuming another episode of Mad Men. Be a creator, not a consumer.
Is there anything on your creative dream list that fits my creative project criteria? Perhaps that might be a good reason to start that particular project, today.
[Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.]