Cultivating Creativity Over Break

Hi all!

This is the point in winter break where it’s extremely easy to fall into a slump. Some of us have celebrated holidays, eaten so much incredible baked goods, or binged all of the shows that we waited to watch until classes were over. Even if this isn’t what your break has looked like, I know we can all relate to the experience of less daylight each day. That certainly doesn’t put one in a happy mood! I find that around this time every year all I want to do is be a lump on the couch — a very well-deserved activity given the hard work I put into the semester, but not always the best use of my time.

This year I wanted to really focus on making the rest that I do over the holidays something tangible. I put out so many of my creative sparks over the semester because I simply didn’t have the time to devote to crocheting a blanket or completing a puzzle, for example. This winter break I made it a priority to give in to my artistic projects and creative energy in order to compensate for all the times I had to say no to them recently! Don’t worry, I’ll still do my fair share of being a lump on the couch, but including other forms of rest (especially those with art involved) are equally as important for my mental and emotional health. So, here are 3 foolproof aids to keeping a creative spark throughout winter break! (Or at least here are things that normally work for me)

  1. If you wake up and don’t want to do it…don’t!

Now this may seem counter-productive. Trust me, it’s not! If you wake up and tell yourself, “Gosh, I really should keep working on that painting,” or “I need to sit down and be creative,” then it’s a chore instead of an activity. It’s a to-do list item instead of a restful project. It’s a “need to” instead of a “want to”. The way we speak to ourselves is so important, so meeting yourself with grace and where you’re at is so much better than meeting yourself with high expectations that, if left not met, will make you feel bad about yourself at the end of the day. Honestly, I’ve found that the best strategy for me is keeping a list of all of the projects that I want to do and then choosing each morning which one sounds the most fun! It gives me the chance to say “What do I want to do today?” while still getting ahead on the projects that I want to complete! And some days I wake up and think to myself about how none of the things sound fun…so I’ll choose something else to do with my day. Giving yourself the option to say no is as important as giving yourself the opportunity to say yes to creativity and artistic projects.

2. Find something that inspires the heck out of you.

It can be anything!! My current things that inspire me to be creative are the song Candy by Robbie Williams, playing Super Mario Bros on my DS (that was truly a gem of a quarantine find), and watching The Crown on Netflix. Inspiration can come from anywhere! Find some inspirational quotes on Pinterest if that’s your jam, or call up a friend that always knows what to say to make you feel like the best version of yourself. Whatever it may be, whether it’s eating a really yummy bagel or listening to Christmas music, let yourself fall into it. Actually find the thing that makes you want to create and then actually let it motivate you!! If getting started is the hardest part for you, then let something other than sheer willpower kickstart your creative time. It all goes back to you wanting to create, so make a space for yourself in which you feel that creative spark.

3. Create for you and you alone.

Sure, it’s great to have something to put into a portfolio and it’s wonderful to have something to put in a reel. But sometimes, having an expectation is the kind of pressure that stifles artistic projects. That leads to a trap of wondering if it will be “good enough” to put on your Instagram or to submit for a particular project. Not every piece of art that you make needs to be put in a museum or a showcase! Doodle a little picture of a frog or sing badly in your shower. Those are absolutely good enough if you enjoy the creative process of it! We create so much art for others to critique, grade, and look at, so it’s healthy every once in a while to create something that’s just for your eyes. Take the pressure off of yourself to make something that’s “good” and just allow yourself to make something! It is so much easier to start a project that you know is merely for fun. Not to mention that getting into the mindset of creating for just yourself will ultimately lead to less anxiety surrounding creating in the future! Let yourself learn, grow, create, and explore for you and you alone. I promise it will always be good enough when it’s just for you!

I hope that these have been helpful tips! They’re the ones that work best for me. Get some rest, enjoy your art, and happy creating!!

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