With the solstice only days away, we’re right in the middle of the darkest part of the year and also the busiest. It’s a combination that can easily lead to feeling over-stimulated and over-tired, the adrenaline of trying to get it all done matched with the lack of time we give ourselves to rest or go slowly. It’s obvious how this can affect us emotionally and physically, but how about creatively? In this blog I spend a lot of time wondering about the creative process, and how we can support our creative practices to become as full and expansive as possible. I have come to believe that December is in some ways a natural enemy to creativity, as it is a month that makes so many demands. It expects us to be dynamic and positive, giving so much energy out to others, while not really allowing time and space for us to maintain that energy. So be it. I can’t change December, it will always be this way. But I can change how I respond to these circumstances. So, instead of resisting and feeling annoyed with myself for feeling stretched and tired, I am going to go with it. I am not going to expect anything great from my creativity this month. Instead I am going to take care of it.Read More
December is a challenging month on all fronts – professional and personal – that it can be easy to get lost in all the activity and things to be done and forget to look after yourself. All this month on the blog I’m going to be taking self-care as my inspiration and looking at ways you can look after yourself a little better. I’m going to be sharing ideas for finding energy and preparing for the new year in your creative practice, and suggesting ways to support your mental wellbeing. No matter how much you’ve got going on with work and family this month, the goal is to reach January feeling fresh and ready for the new year, not exhausted and in need of recuperation.
Today I’d like to think about one of the most important elements of sustaining your creative practice: gathering.Read More
Output (Creative Work) + Input (Nourish Creativity & Skills) + Community Building = Creative Practice
In the first of 3 posts I’m going to look at Input – the things you do as a creative person to feed your creative well, to nourish your creativity.Read More
Degree season is here. New Designers is just around the corner. It’s a slightly frenetic and heightened time of year. I always enjoy seeing new work, and it’s hard not to remember being in the same place 4 years ago, the relief at work being finished, the anticipation of what’s to come. But, once you have been going to degree shows and New Designers for a while, it’s easy to slip into complacency a little, and to start to feel a bit uninspired by it all. Looking through my writing archive this week I noticed a response I wrote to degree shows on this day last year. It’s not particularly charitable, as you can see…Read More
This month’s book recommendation may look like a personal development book from its title. I must admit that that's why I picked it up at first, thinking that maybe it contains the secrets to finding your passion in life (and thus will change everything). I'm sorry to say that this book may not actually help you find your passion in life, but it does show us how creating the right educational environment, and honouring the role creativity plays within society, will lead to everyone having the possibility of discovering their passion. Which is something I feel strongly about.Read More
This week it’s Mental Health Awareness week. So my twitter feed (in particular) has been full of really interesting events and activities that link my main interests of Craft and Art with a topic that is close to me personally – maintaining good mental health. On a beautiful day like today the heavy grey days of winter seem long gone, and my struggles with SAD are thankfully over for a while. But I still grapple with anxiety and on-and-off low level depression that slows me right down or puts me out of action, no matter the season. I’m pretty certain that everyone deals with their own unique combination of mental health issues, and that we all sit on that spectrum. How much they affect your day-to-day functioning seems to be the deciding factor in how open we are about it with other people. I know I don’t really talk much about it (beyond a few blog posts) with people outside of my family and friends, which makes me sure that if we were all more open about things, then maybe we would no longer need a ‘week’ to highlight how much people deal with on a daily basis.Read More
This month’s book recommendation comes with a caveat. Not because it isn’t very good (it really is) but because I feel a bit awkward recommending a book which is aimed so squarely at only half the population. My aim with highlighting books on my blog is to share what I’ve been reading and the things I’ve found enjoyable, provoking and inspiring with the hope you might find them similarly helpful. This book is one of the few ‘personal development’ books I’ve read when I felt like it was written about me, and about people I know. So I couldn’t not tell you about it, despite its narrow focus. I hope you’ll forgive me this once, and I hope you’ll consider reading it no matter how you gender-identify; there are good insights for all in it.Read More
This week I have let things overwhelm me. It’s not that I am particularly busy and rushed off my feet, but I seem to have more things ‘active’ in both work and home life than usual, which are taking up so much of my mind. Dealing with clusters of activity, and the anxiety that leads to, is something I feel like I have been working on forever. Am I getting better at dealing with it? Hard to say. But I try.
I had a longer-than-usual tube journey yesterday and so I popped a couple of books in my backpack for company. At the start of the year I bought The Daily Stoic (which I reviewed last month) and managed fairly well to set aside a bit of time each day to read the passage and think about how it might influence my day. Well, I suppose it won’t shock you to hear that I last read the book a month ago, so the tube journey became a rather big catch-up.
But in amongst the many passages that weren’t really relevant to me right now, I found some useful gems. And a flick through of the pages I’d turned down highlighted to me that I struggle with the same things off and on, but I also know what I can do to help myself. I can take inspiration from other people (even people who lived thousands of years ago) who also struggled with these things. I can take comfort in the fact that in all likelihood there are loads of people out there right now also feeling a bit overwhelmed with their work and life. A small dose of perspective coupled with connection and a sympathy to things outside of myself.Read More
One of my favourite quotes (that I have stuck on my computer) is by Marcel Proust: "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." It's a sentiment that I wholeheartedly believe and which transforms the quotidian into the extraordinary without much effort at all. This book embodies this quote.
In On Looking: about everything there is to see, author Alexandra Horowitz asks us to take a walk with her. (Well, to take twelve, actually). Her premise is that we are terrifically bad at noticing stuff. Every day we "miss the possibility of being surprised by what is hidden in plain sight right in front of us" because we are too distracted by our modern lives. We have lost the skills of attention and focus, we walk in a daydream, on autopilot going about our business. She advocates a more mindful approach, aiming to bring active attention to our daily lives by noticing new things. And these new things aren't somewhere different and exciting, they are on your doorstep.
I’m feeling stuck. It’s Tuesday evening and I need to write a blog post for Wednesday, my arbitrary, self-imposed deadline. I really don’t want to miss a week and yet I can’t think what to write. The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a struggle in terms of work/life/creative me balance. Events in my personal life are derailing most of my attempts to get work done and as for creative things… well, they’ve ground to a halt. The creative well is dry and no amount of scraping around at the bottom, hoping for something miraculous, is going to help me right now, to write this now. I need a quick fix.
I am fully aware that this is not an ideal situation. I know that I should have been topping up my creative stores with inspiring and nourishing activities, feeding my curiosity and paying attention to the little things. But we are all flawed humans, none of us is perfect, and despite knowing what we ‘should’ do, we often don’t manage it. I have a note in my diary to remind me to be kind to myself, so no berating today. Instead, what small act can I do to help? How do I unstick myself when there isn’t time to gently revive my flagging creativity? I look back.Read More