Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Paths to creativity

I've been thinking about creativity a lot lately, as I'm trying to focus on my creative endeavors (like knitting and photography).  And I've been noticing when I have my best ideas and what stimulates my creativity.  So, here's my Top-10 list of things that (in my opinion) can stir the creative juices:

1.  Get a boring, monotonous task
I know this doesn't sound very exciting, but there is nothing like it to free your mind.  For me, it's doing the dishes (a task that is always present).  When DH and I owned a retail bakery in the town where we live, I would slice loaf after loaf of bread, during which I would have some of my best creative revelations.  The idea is to do something monotonous, where your hands are busy, and your mind is free to think.

2.  Rent vs. own
For the last 3 summers, I've rented a lens from Lens Rentals (I highly recommend them, by the way).  I've found that having the lens for a short period of time really energizes me, forcing me to get out there and use the lens to the max.  And being able to rent different lenses has given my photography a creative nudge, letting me try different styles.  I think if you buy a lens (which I would love to do, don't get me wrong) it could be easier to take it for granted and shelve it when you don't feel like shooting.

There are other situations where renting might be just the thing to help creativity, not just in photography.  I can't help but think about the amount of time and money and energy people spend on maintaining their houses.  Perhaps if more people rented (or lived in a maintenance-free condo, for instance) they could spend their energy on something that might be more inspiring than cutting the grass (like travel, for instance).  Then again, cutting the grass can be the boring, monotonous task to get your brain thinking creative thoughts (see #1, above).

3.  Take notes
I try to jot down all my knitting & photography ideas, so that I have a place to keep all my ideas (and as a way to remember them).  I find that as I look at some of the ideas I've written down, I feel re-inspired to do them, or make small changes to improve the original idea.

4.  Turn off the TV
I think television can be a great way of relaxing after a long day & a source of entertainment (although I don't watch TV now, I used to before we had the Bachsters).  But TV has a way of draining you of creativity, so that all you do is sit and watch, not ponder & create.  I think it's even disruptive as background noise.  In my experience, quiet is best, so that your brain can get to its job of thinking creative thoughts!

5.  Visit websites/blogs that inspire you
Like this one, hopefully!  I visit a few sites almost daily, sites that get me thinking and inspire creativity.  One site that I love is What Katie Ate - I always feel excited to try new things with my photography or cooking after I visit her site.

6.  Hang out in your backyard
This summer, it was difficult to get out to photoshoot, with 3 kids wanting to go to the pool and a new puppy that needed to go out.  So, I just explored our backyard, taking my camera with me whenever I went out with Ranger.  Every day, I would check on the orchard spiders who made their homes in a big bush on the side of our house.  It's a good thing to get to know a small area well, allowing you to take notice of small changes.  I can't help but think about Claude Monet and his garden at Giverny.  And I think you'd be hard pressed to find an artist that wasn't/isn't inspired by nature, even if it's in a small way.  So, get outside - you don't have to go far!

7.  Read
I know, this is my answer to just about everything!  But seriously, if you can't find inspiration at the library, where can you find it?

8.  Start small
Whatever your "art" don't attempt a masterpiece at first.  Just have fun with it & let your creativity take you wherever it wants.  Nothing squashes creative thought like pressure.

9.  Get your ducks in a row
If you are at a spot in your life where something is off (like a job that you dislike, a roommate you can't tolerate) then your creativity is going to suffer (at least for me - others might thrive against adversity).  Change your life for the better & your mind can relax & be open to creative thought instead of being busy thinking about negative things.

10.  Have a kid.  Or two.  Or three.....
When our first Bachster was born, it was like a to-the-core creative awakening for me.  I wanted pass down to her something that I had made, something that I spent my time perfecting, just for her.  Something that showed how much I loved her.  This is when I learned to knit, and my first project (after the obligatory garter stitch scarf) was her baby blanket.  And ever since then, they continue to inspire me, to challenge me to lead the creative life I want.  They encourage me in my endeavors.  It's hard to put words to, really, how these 3 little people have changed my life so much, and helped me become a better person.....and a creative individual.

  (This is a really old pic of the Bachsters, from 2008)

What inspires you?  How do you find creativity?  Let me know! 


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