Our next step in the creative life conversation (first step here, if you missed it), is to talk about what constitutes a creative activity. This is where I’ve gotten hung up in the past, feeling like I have no time for creativity, because I define “creativity” way too narrow.
So what I want to do today is expand that definition. Creativity is not only the physical act of creating art. Creative activities are all of the things that feed into us creating our art, however big, however small, however seemingly unrelated.
Let me give you an example… Last Saturday I taught a workshop, the second in my Mobile Photography series. I had to get ready for the workshop, teach the workshop, follow up on the workshop. I’ve taught this workshop many times before, so it doesn’t seem like a “creative” activity. It’s fun, but is it creative? Any yet, the time in the workshop teaching led me to reconnect with a couple of apps I hadn’t been using recently. Seeing the work my students were creating inspired me to play around with those apps again. And guess what, the next day I created this piece of art, as a direct outcome of teaching that workshop:
With an expanded definition of creativity, I can look at my life and see two things:
- I have way more creative activities going on than I give myself credit for. (This is my perception about my creative life.)
- I can fit these creative activities into all sorts of books and crannies in my schedule, increasing the amount of time I have for creativity. (This is my actual creative life.)
What I want to do in the next couple of steps is help you increase both the perceived and actual creative activities in your life.
The first step is on perception: What is a creative activity?
Make a list of all of the activities that feed into you creating art.
If you are having trouble with this concept, let me put it another way… What are the activities which being you inspiration, ideas, put you in the right frame of mind, clear space, etc. in order to create your art? What are all of things that give me a creative boost? Go start that list now, before reading too much further. I don’t want you to be too influenced by my list at the outset, which I’ll share later. You will come up with some different ideas that way.
The second step is on actual activity: When and where can I be creative?
Group your list by categories of time and location.
What are the different chunks of time you have available? Maybe you have a few minutes in the morning in the studio, or a few minutes each day waiting in line while you are running errands. Maybe you have a few hours a week on a Saturday afternoon. In what ways can you slot your creative activities into these different snippets of time and location?
List out the different types of time you have available, and then sort your list into those groups. Remember, a creative activity can be in more than one group. You might even add to the creative activity list, as you think through how you use that time now.
Let me share me output from this exercise, both groupings and activities, as an example…
Creative activities I can do in a few minutes in the studio:
Writing in my journal
Inspirational reading – on creativity, personal growth, essays, poems
Clean my workspace
Looking at art – books, online
Take a photo
Play around with a new app
Creative activities I can do in a few minutes away from home:
Inspirational reading – on my smartphone!
Going for a short walk wherever I am
Take a photo – smartphone!
Play around with a new app – smartphone!
Visiting a gallery
Looking at art online – smartphone!
Creative activities which require an hour plus in the studio:
Altering a photo – my main art
Writing a blog post
Writing a tutorial
Printing/Framing my art
Listening to artists talk about their journey, or any new ideas – podcasts, videos
Creative activities which require planning ahead, blocks of time:
Going for a hike
Visiting a gallery or exhibition out of town
Travel and exploration of a new location
Preparing a class
Writing or editing a larger piece (book, article)
Teaching a class
Preparing for exhibitions or art fairs
Listening to artists talk about their journey, or other new ideas – presentations
Takng a class to learn something new and interesting
Meeting up with other artists
Wow! I have lots of creative activities available to me, don’t I? I’ll share my insights later this week, because I have to get ready for work! My time is up.
What are your groupings? What’s your list? Share it with us here in the comments, so we can learn from and inspire each other to think about creativity in new ways.