There is so much that can be said about learning to say no and how it will benefit your Artful Life. We certainly need to learn to say no to the myriad of things that bombard our time for creativity. But that is a subject for another day. Today, and in recent days, I’m learning to say no to any online activity that can rob me of my contentment in the creative work I enjoy.
For me, a huge difference in Living an Artful Life as opposed to Having an Art Career, is a sense of contentment about where I am creatively, and what I’m making. When I’m in gotta-make-a-career-of-art mode, I scramble. This driven scrambling has a hunker-down feel tinged with frenzy. I’ve gotta figure out what it is I’m gonna go for, research it online, find others who are doing that, check off the list all the stuff I need to do to establish it, run around doing errands for it, etc. Living an Artful Life allows me to slow down and enjoy the creative project(s) I’m currently working on (whether they fall into any sort of career path or not), to stop fretting over whether what I’m making will sell or not, and to share what I love to do whether it’s teaching it, blogging it, or just sharing it with family and friends.
I love blogging. I don’t really know why. It feels like another art form I enjoy. I also love reading/looking at other’s blogs too. And I love the whole interconnectedness we have at our disposal to see what others are creating, to learn how to make what they make, to be inspired, and encouraged. But too much of that, can creep in and dampen the joy I have in my own artistic pursuits. I may begin comparing myself to them, feeling overwhelmed that I don’t measure up, or that I just don’t know what I’m doing, or that I really should chuck all the paints and pens out on the curb. Gazing too much or for too long at others’ creative lives, can work against your own. Like Genevieve, in the above illustration, you may feel like all the color has drained out of your own creative world. Ever felt like this?
Part of Living Artfully is guarding the creative spark we hold in our hearts. That creative spark is a gift to be treasured and cared for. It is yours and only yours, whether it’s to begin putting pen to paper to try drawing, or whether it’s to learn a new technique in clay work, or to continue working on that mammoth fiber design you started last year. Whatever creative work you are currently into is a light that can be snuffed out by too much online activity. Not only does it eek away at the TIME you have for making, but it can dampen your joy in making it by the sheer overwhelm of just how amazing others’ creativity is!
A blog gives an INCOMPLETE view of one’s life. In viewing one’s blog, (including this one:), what you DON’T see is perhaps what you need to see: the slew of interruptions, the daily to-do list, the grocery shopping, the work hours, the toilet cleaning, the disappointments, the irritations, the mental overwhelm, etc. etc. All you see is what that individual shows you…the latest painting masterpiece, the gorgeous photo of a serene (and clean) “corner” of their home, the finished knitting piece (even if it was worked on in fits and starts over the last several months or maybe even years). And if you enjoy looking at many different creative blogs, you can come away with a sense that others are just more creative than you, that they have 26 hours in their day instead of your 24, and well, they just plain “have it” and you don’t. Or it seems that way.
I’m here to say to you, if you find yourself in this spot often… BACK AWAY FROM THE SCREEN! Turn it off. And when you do, pick up your current creative project or start the one you’ve been longing to begin. Gaze at it as much as you were previously gazing at the ipad screen, the computer screen, the smartphone screen. Enjoy the creative spark YOU OWN, revel in it, pay attention to it, and devote some time ( however much you can possibly give it) to doing the thing you would like to do NO MATTER whether it’s as much time as so-and-so gets to do her creativity, NO MATTER whether it’s as good as so-and-so’s, NO MATTER whether ANYONE else will like it, and certainly NO MATTER whether it’s sellable, or marketable.
For some, this may require a complete shut-down of online activity for a time, or maybe for good! For others, it may be limiting your online activity to a specified amount of time, or only to a particular time of day (say in the evening when your time and energy to create is spent). Whatever it means for you to nurture that creative spark in you, do it! Whatever it is that causes you to feel badly about your creative self, stop going there! Guard your spark as if it were your child. In many ways it IS your Inner Artist Child, who wants to come out and play without any baggage hanging off of him/her.
Set your spark free by saying NO to online activity that ceases to be inspiring and just weighs you down. I’m totally aware this may mean my blog here at Drawn2Life! Though I love love love that you visit here regularly, I would love even more to know that you are dancing in the fields of creativity instead of using up your only creative time here. Free your inner spark to create more joyfully and passionately by staying away from the almighty screen! And sometime down the road, send me a note to let me know how much fun you’re having!:)