I’ve never considered myself one of those ‘creative types’ and yet in the past few years, that’s what I’ve been called, much to my amusement. I suspect years of working in industry dulled my creative streak until I started blogging and discovered photography, a subject I’ve touched on before in this post and which many of you responded to.
When you have a full time job, however, it can be difficult to find the time to indulge your creative streak and that can lead to frustration. I firmly believe creativity is good for the soul, for our mental wellbeing and that it enriches the fabric of our lives. Personally, I’ve found that after a while, if I don’t spend time with my camera or learning a little more about photography, I tend to feel ‘hemmed in’, a touch resentful if I feel I’ve allowed my time to be spent on other, less important things. With that in mind, I’d thought I’d share a few tips on how I have learned to lead a more creative life.
1.Simplify your time. Over the past six months, I’ve left Facebook and I’ve unsubscribed to many email subscriptions. I found that these were creating unnecessary distractions, encouraging me to fritter away time on things that did not add any value. I feel I have gained time and allowed more headspace for creative endeavours. As Catherine Blyth writes in her fascinating book On Time
‘Now is the time of your life. What might happen if you spend your day only on what was necessary or delightful to take you where you want to go. Millions have been inspired by Marie Kondo’s advice to tidy up, and to ditch possessions that do not serve a purpose or spark joy. How much more might we gain from decluttering time’.
2. Little can mean a lot. I’d be the first to admit I come home from work knackered. The temptation is always there to veg out on the sofa. But if I carve out even 15 to 20 minutes sitting at the kitchen table, reviewing my photos, watching a YouTube tutorial or reading an article, and I do this even just twice a week, then I know a little bit more than I did before and that, in turn, encourages me to keep on learning. Creativity doesn’t have to mean hours and hours – for me small slots of time are both more achievable and more productive.
3. Take time to inspire yourself. I think inspiration is hugely important and during my lunch break at work, I don’t aimlessly surf the web. I spend time instead reading some of my favourite blogs, a welcome distraction from a busy work environment of course, but also a chance to seek out some inspiration because looking at beautiful images of flowers and gardens inspires me to get out there to create images of my own. At weekends too, I try to spend some time in places that inspire me – a favourite garden, a walk round the neighbourhood, a jaunt in the car to somewhere new. All of these things collectively help to get the creative juices flowing, even if I’m not aware of it.
4. Don’t waste time comparing yourself to others. Instagram can be a nightmare in this regard. With a constant stream of beautiful images and people sharing their artistic endeavours, it can be easy to feel inspired and discouraged in equal measure. There are two aspects to this – firstly, I really limit my time on Instagram. Secondly, we need to recognise that everyone has a different starting point. Some people are just starting the journey, others are well down the road, others might be like me – somewhere in the middle.
5. Savour your progress. I’ve taken hundreds of photos, many of which were distinctly average and downright awful. And that’s ok , because I’ve still a lot to learn. But then again, I’ve taken some photographs I’m actually quite proud of. I remember when I took my first decent photograph using the ‘Aperture Priority’ mode on my camera and the penny finally dropped. I was quietly thrilled in myself that I had, at last, grasped the concept. Just yesterday, I was looking at cameras in a local shop and checking out some of the features. Two years ago, I wouldn’t even have known where to start. So when the penny drops, when you finally understand something about your subject, when that cake you baked turns out exactly as you hoped, or you complete that sketch with a final flourish, savour the moment !
As Mary Oliver, the American poet wrote…
‘The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.’
What do you do to be creative? Feel free to share in the comments below.
In the meantime, have a lovely Sunday. Spring is on its way x