I can bet many of us adult human folk miss art class in elementary school. It was a time of creative play, using our hands to get messy, and days filled with color and line and thinking of odd and a sundry ways to express ourselves. For most of us, IT WAS FUN!
Fast forward to our adult lives, many moons have passed and many of us find ourselves at a turning point where we desire to either re-visit the world of arts and crafts or rekindle a passion for what we once loved. Either way, the question now becomes: How do I begin and maintain a creative practice?
Working with artistic humans and artists in real life and online, I have come across many that get excited about a new class, gather all new supplies and shiny things, and for a few weeks they thrive. Then something interesting begins to happen. Every so slightly they get busy. They get busy living, doing laundry, taking care of kids and big kids and kids camouflaged as spouses. Despite all the best intentions they stop tapping into the creative practice that brought them joy.
Don't get me wrong, families are the core of our heart and love! Living a beautiful life takes practice and time and attention to do well. Still, if you choose to embrace the intention of learning a new artistic skill, building a creative practice, and/or creating a living through the arts, you must find a way to commit to that practice while you live that beautiful life. You must embrace the belief that your creative needs matter too.
There are some tips that you can consider, and if followed, the chances of committing and staying dedicated to creative growth can be achieved. They begin with a choice.
1. Make A Commitment
The first thing we must do when we believe that our creative needs matter is to make a choice. Make a choice to create time for ourselves. Make a choice to begin and make a choice to communicate that desire with our important humans so that they can cheer us on and respect that choice.
2. Choose Your Path
Once you have decided to dive in, you have to narrow down your options. If you are a pure beginner, then most likely you might want to take a class or two. You might want to commit to some online learning, take a class in real life, or simply gather some books and give it a go.
If you are more experienced, or are coming back to a creative practice you once had, you still need to narrow down your options so that you can engage them in small, building steps.
Make an intention based on what you hope to achieve. A beginner's intention will be very different from a seasoned creative, so choose what fits your needs best.
3. Schedule Your Time
This step is HUGE! Sometimes you dive in and simply can't keep up the pace. Consider what your path is, what your beautiful life entails, and carve out some sacred time for you to practice, explore, and learn within balance.
If everyday is too much, make a choice to spend every other day creating. Small chunks of time are more manageable to begin with. 20-30 min windows of time can give you room for confidence and not overwhelm your already busy lifestyle. Even 15 min windows will make a difference.
4. Get Organized
Having a space and the appropriate supplies is one of the most important factors in long term success. If you have to get supplies out and put them up every single time you create, chances are that will become tedious. Find a 'spot' where you can keep your supplies in reach and have them accessible easily. You are much more able to build a habit if there is consistency in that practice and your tools are handy.
5. Set Realistic Goals
Let's be honest, you most likely won't create a masterpiece the first week you begin. :) One of the biggest factors in not committing to a practice is our horrible tendency to expect perfection. Growth in any area takes TIME. Striving for excellence is very different than expecting perfection.
If you begin by expecting every single thing you create to be amazing you will get disappointed quickly. Instead, flip your mindset and honor your commitment to the practice...which is amazing, and give yourself the time to learn, to study, to practice, to grow. The sheer act of creating is sacred, and for many of us, a goal of just playing can lead to a beautiful way of life.
Choose realistic goals though that are short term, and strive for bigger ones in the long term.
6. Find A Partner
Having a friend or partner, either in your present day life or online, can be a big part of your sticking with a practice. If you can find someone to share it with you, hold you accountable based on your goals, then you will be much more engaged. Creative Partnerships can affect your practice in powerful ways. If a local partnership isn't available, reach out online.
7. Join Groups That Match Your Goals
Finding a group that shares your interests or goals will help you plant roots in your practice. Locally, search out a group that you can participate with and network with. Be open to learn, to participate, to volunteer, and engage.
Online, there are TONS of groups based around interests. Find one to join that has connections with what you hope to create and has members who might challenge you a bit. Learn the ins and outs about posting and sharing, what the group guidelines are, and become an active member. The more you engage, the more you will feed your own creative understanding and practice.
8. Ask, Seek, Explore
When you take a class....ask questions. Online classes are all different. Most likely there will be students that join who are at different places in their artistic journey and you might feel intimidated. Challenge this feeling and learn from it.
Comparing yourself to someone's skill set that has been developing over several years sets you up for failure. Instead, honor their commitment and learn from them. Ask questions, explore ideas, and give yourself time to learn.
If your class has a format that is technically challenging, reach out to the teacher and ask for help. Classes these days cost a pretty penny. Be willing to be assertive in what you need and reach out for guidance. Most teachers I know welcome the connection and questions.
9. Engage In Practice
Show up. Do the Work. Repeat. NOTHING will make as much of a difference than actually laying those bricks one at a time, consistently over time. Start small and build on your practice. As you grow, share with your family, broaden your networks and support groups, and devote more time.
10. Be Gentle With Yourself
We can blame and shame with the best of them when it comes to the expectations we have of ourselves. If you dive in and get excited but get a case of the fizzles rather quickly, spend some time asking yourself why. Be HONEST. If it is a lack of understanding, ask for help.
If it is a choice you made to disengage, be honest about that and seek out the root of why. Are you afraid of success? Do you truly believe you matter? Is this something a friend did but really wasn't what your heart longed for? As those conversations take place, and if you make a choice to begin again, do so with grace for yourself. Seek out progress, not perfection.
I am a firm believer that when humans choose to engage and devote to some type of creative practice their lives become more content and meaningful. This world desperately needs Creatives to continue to spread unique ideas, beauty, and products that show the best of us. If you are one who has chosen to embrace that way of life, bravo! There is help out there so that you can thrive!
Do you have some tips for helping others stay committed to a creative practice? My list is not all encompassing. Share your ideas here so we can all learn from each other!