nurturing creativity.


Gaining inspiration is a hard subject to give advice — or even to receive advice — on. Based on the conversations with creative people I’ve had, one person gets inspiration from something completely opposite from the last person I talked to, so I don’t want to speak to how you should find inspiration.

Instead, this post is about nurturing creativity. Things that we can do to make us more receptive to inspiration, things that can help make our creative time more productive, things that we can do to grow in being creators.

The first word I have on this list scribbled on the back of a pattern-in-progress is this: Workspace.

If you love where you create, you will have an easier time creating. I didn’t love my workspace — in fact, I didn’t really even have a fixed workspace — until last month, when I pulled together what I had on hand and made something that I love.

I simply put a card table in the corner of my bedroom, and put things that make me happy on it.

IMG_7879 with text

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I even love my chair: a weird 60s folding chair in a bright blue that was in the house when we brought it.

IMG_7889 wool

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One of the reasons that I’m considering what it means to be creative and ways we can enhance our creativity is because my “studio” has been making me feel inspired and creative. It makes me feel more official, if nothing else.

The next word: Rest. Creative rest is just like rest in the normal sense. If we don’t go to sleep, we won’t be ready for the next day. If we don’t take a break from running after an ultra-marathon, we get hurt the next time we run. If we don’t take a few days and recharge our batteries by not creating, we’re going to get burnt-out. Rest is one of the most important things related to functioning highly, research shows, but it is also underrated. Rest is not a something you should focus on only when you’re at the end of your rope.

Rest is also regenerative, which is why when we take a break from creating, we come back with more creativity and more energy.

Word 3: Explore. Another way to nurture creativity is to explore other creative avenues. If your thing is writing, try painting. A knit designer like me? How about sculpting? You don’t have to become a master at your alternative creative outlet. Goodness, you don’t even have to be good at it. But when you come back to your creative activity of choice, you’ll be amazed with how much you’ve been inspired and have more .

Here are some of my Other Projects:

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The current novel-in-progress

IMG_7900 with text

The last word is Study. Studying obviously grows our minds, nurturing our creativity. I’ve got a few books that I pull out and read once in a while. Barbara Walker’s stitch dictionaries, anything by Elizabeth Zimmerman, and Clara Parkes’ first three books are all books I read to help my knowledge grow about knitting. To help me push my writing boundaries, I read The Elements of Style at least once a year.

Studying does not only help our knowledge grow, but it grows our creativity as well.

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I am curious to see if these suggestions helped nurture your creativity, and what other things you do to to grow creatively.

Thank you for bearing with me these past few weeks while I’ve been talking on strange ideas about inspiration and creativity. The next and last post in this series is about one of the single most crippling things concerning creativity: criticism.

J

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18 thoughts on “nurturing creativity.

  1. Great article with very proactive thoughts to keep you going. I just wanted to add one thing, wise words passed along from one friend to another actually. “Creativity is a muscle that when used regularly is/becomes strong, but if you take too much rest or stop doing it for awhile, you will loose it.” It is harder to jump right in where you left off, hard to remember just how you exacted that certain technique so well. Anyway, just my little nickel thought. Thanks for these great articles, keep up the good work! ☺

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    1. Hello, Miss Jennifer! That is a great thought and one that I agree with. I was not trying to make it seem like I advocated too much rest; just enough to sustain creativity. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. πŸ™‚

      J

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  2. Great post with a lot of ideas! I have a whole room that is dedicated to just me and I still feel slightly overwhelmed. I may need to do a little paring down of things that aren’t making me happy and see if that helps. It also seems that I have been taking on too many test projects lately and haven’t really been knitting on what I want to get finished. That may need to stop for a bit so I can concentrate on other things πŸ™‚ Basically, I need to stop getting distracted and start getting creative!

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    1. I can totally relate with leaving space to do things that you actually want to do! (It feels as if that is happening with reading more than knitting right now; I have two review copies that I’m supposed to be finished with, but have not even started.)

      And I identify so much with paring down in your creative space. I read Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin recently, and something that was super helpful that she talked about was the idea of surfaces (tables, etc) being for activity instead of storage. I find that if I can keep my table/bed/bookshelf relatively clear of things that have other static places and are simply “hanging out” in my workspace, I’m much more productive.

      Almost as much as I love the subject of creativity, I love the subject of simplifying. Have you read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo? It was really trendy there for a while, but it was one of those trends that was actually deserving of being popular. I found that that book really helped me feel happier in my spaces. Just putting it out there. I could probably talk for ages on simplifying, but I should stop; this comment is long enough as it is.

      Thank you so much for commenting! πŸ™‚

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      1. I will definitely check those books out! I do tend to do a clearing off daily of my desk space. It’s just all the stuff that I thought I’d use someday, that I haven’t touched in two years that are giving me the heebie jeebies πŸ™‚ Some spring cleaning is definitely in order! As soon as I can pull myself away from my test knitting.

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    1. Of creativity is essential. (I really need to work on that now that I’m home) For me, natural light is essential, I like to have my desk facing a window so that I can look out it if I want. I would also say don’t try to compartmentalize all of the aspects of your creativity, let there be overlap.

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      1. That sounds like perfect advice, Sarah! It can be tempting to keep things all separating in their little boxes, but creativity is about exploring; dumping out those boxes and rethinking things, and comparing them, right? And I am in complete agreement with you about natural light. It is perfect for everything; focusing, photography, etc. Thank you for commenting!

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  3. Your inspirations are yours and yours alone in your space. What you’ve created works well. Criticism – that’s on them – you create and that’s more than most people. Some projects are better, but you’ve done something – rules are meant to be broken. Your blog is fun for this old lady to read and watch as you creative, thrive, and grow. We all fail at some time at some thing. And, what we thought failed, someday looks pretty good. Ignore the design police, spinning police, yarn police – ignore them – experiment and keep doing what works for you. Spiritual level not to be ignored…Got ahead of myself here, but no matter where you are you will be inspired. Words, I love the word, ‘gloaming’, the lighting, the smell, the moors or heaths – to me it is where your mind is at the time. Whatever you are doing works.

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  4. Personally, I’ve been hitting a low….a really, really low type of low, the likes of which I’ve not seen since my college years when my world started falling apart at an appalling rate. Because of that, any sense of creativity seems to have fallen by the wayside…except one, which is an odd one for me. I was never much of a writer, other than blogging and school assignments. I was always a doodler and tactile type of person when it came to creativity. I know what I like when it comes to reading others’ writings but I have difficulty with my own writing. And in the midst of my lack of creativity, writing happened. I started a random dystopian something. I don’t know if it’s going to be a short story, a novel, a series, or nothing. Aside from that, my creativity is not back for the most part. I’m still nowhere near 100%, though I never operate on 100% anyway. With that said, I have felt like I need to sort out a proper “creative” place for me. Unfortunately, we live in San Francisco (well, the area) and houses are not large. We do not have an office. We barely have any “fun” space in our house. The other problem is that I have a small child who will, inevitably, get into any space I do set up.

    Maybe in a few years I can have a proper place. Right now, I work wherever I can: the couch, the recliner, my bed, the counter…..as long as things are out of the little guy’s reach all will be well…but he’s learning to climb. ::sigh::

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    1. Oh, my goodness, Renee, I am not (and will never be) a mother, but my little brother is the same way. It feels like I am constantly putting things up higher, or getting him out of something, or worrying about what he’s getting into when I’m gone. Toddlers definitely make being creative harder.

      At least you’re being creative; that’s the most important thing, right? Please keep me posted on your story. I am interested to see what you end up doing with it!

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  5. Josiah, your timing for this subject is quite amazing to me from a personal stand point. I’ve had a major re-shuffle of my life over the past five years because of the economy/our small business and then with taking in my parents and the change that brings to time/responsibilities etc. I found myself really struggling with not having enough creative time and suffering emotionally/psychologically because of that. I had somehow convinced myself that my creative side was a luxury or frivolity and didn’t recognize that it was actually the part of my personality that gave me the energy to take care of the responsibilities in my life. Caitlin has helped me re-adjust my thinking as have your recent posts. I do have a studio that my husband built specially for me that hadn’t seen much activity for several years – but I’ve begun making time every day for some creative activity and it has helped me improve my mood and outlook considerably. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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    1. I am so glad that these posts have been a help to you. I firmly believe that creativity, while most of the time viewed as a frivolity, is essential to functioning in the “necessary” aspects of life. (Tell Caitlin I love her cat pictures on instagram. :p)

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