Apr 13, 2010

Starting fresh for spring: continuing to be creative in the second quarter

Springtime flowers outside the condo
Flowering sunshine mimosa plant in the front "yard"

Now seems like a good time to post about fresh starts. It's a time of beginnings: of the year's second quarter, of spring. Of celebratory tax return spending. ;) And it's wedding season, too. Lots of freshness floating around, almost like at the new year.

Except we're far enough into the year to have had a chance to slip away from our 2010 resolutions — or intentions, or goals, or whatever you want to call them that seems most positive to you. ;) But it's still early enough in the year that we have time to catch up. HA!

I do have a bit of a peeve about failing to meet my goals, and bleep if I'm living peevefully this year.

One goal I really want to meet is to continue being creative. And "create" contains the idea of "fresh start" inherently, so that goal is a bit paradoxical (in a good, mind-stretching way). I want to continue creating regularly, so the act of creating itself isn't a fresh start, but I want to keep the feeling of constant newness that makes creativity so invigorating.

After all, creativity is by nature a series of fresh starts, or little discoveries. Forgetting that can stick us creative people in a rut where we feel pressured (by our own chosen identity, by others, by the need to finish a project, whatever) to keep doing the same creative thing(s) we've been working on, even if that isn't fulfilling us any more. At least, I have that problem sometimes. ;) Of course, I've also had the problem of not even feeling like I CAN create on a regular basis, much less be truly creative.

But Craft or Bust has utterly kicked that idea's butt. I absolutely can be creative on a regular basis (and apparently the formula for that has a lot to do with creating safe space, something I Really Am going to write about more later. Really! Later.) And now that I no longer have any excuse for thinking I can't output craftiness on a regular basis, the next step in being Truly Creative is to grow into my creative identity.

Which ties back into the fresh start thing. One of the things people do when the new year starts is think about who they were in the past year and who they want to be in this coming year. Being who you reeeeeally want to be isn't always simple or easy, of course. For one thing, you have to KNOW who you want to be, and then you have to be ready to be that person. I have a pretty good idea of who I want to be, but I was nowhere near ready to be that person when 2010 opened.

Now, I'm much more ready.


So this spring I'm refreshing the "be who I want to be" idea. I'm not inventing a new me this season, though; I'm aiming to be more me, more fully me, more true to myself. I want to create, and sink into, a solid sense of personal artistry and crafty identity.

Thus! the theme of 2010, Quarter the Second, will be: Discovering and Deepening My (Creative) Identity.

And that means iiiiiiit's EXERCISE TIME!

Not exercise like jogging ;) — exercise like "for homework, answer these three reflection questions in at least one paragraph each." (I like that sort of homework, and maybe that makes me a nerd. A nerd with claws and pointy sticks! ;) Anyway...)

This spring, I assign myself to list Core Identity Traits: themes and ideas, personality traits and characteristics, that I think of as part of who I really am and want to be. Things I'm happy to be and have (when I am and I do), or that I would be happy to grow into. For example, I am/want to be/would be happy to be more:
  • inspired
  • artistic
  • colorful
  • natural
  • quirky
  • wild
  • instinctive
  • intuitive
  • centered
  • brave
  • independent
Therefore, these are themes I can draw from and on as I become more myself.

Further, I assign myself this project: To design and create an art/craft object that shows my creative personality.

It need not be practical. It doesn't even need to be understandable to anyone outside my head. It may express me at an extreme, or use obscure symbols that mean nothing to most people. If I do it right, said project will fulfill one important requirement: It will resonate with me, as a designer, a crafter, an artist, a creative person, a human being with an identity and a place in the world.

This sort of project is absolutely essential to my creative growth, because even if it's completely nonsensical to people who aren't me and don't know me, it will give me a blueprint from which to build creative pieces that DO speak to other people in a way they can understand. Before I can speak to others truly, I need to know how to express my own truth to myself.

Barbara Bowen wrote in a blog post on the SmARTist Career Blog, "Authentic style is a combination of communicating an emotional truth and mastery of your chosen materials. The more you acknowledge and feel the emotional truths in your life, the more they infuse your art. Distinctive style emerges when you tell the truth about life, using materials that are so familiar that they’re like a language you learned as a child."

And so, to really come into my own as a creative person, to remember what it's like to be me and to be truly creative, I need to learn/remember how to convey my personal truth in my creative work. I need, after this long desert winter of the creative soul, to regrow my awareness of who I am and what I have to offer, so that when I create, live, and act, I do it distinctly as me.

The fun bit about that is that I also get to explore and do crazy things and indulge in creative projects completely for fun (something it's DEFINITELY easy to lose track of when building a business of your creative work — again, in my experience ;)). To make sure what I love, think, live and enjoy infuses my work, I need to give myself permission to rediscover what's fun and inspiring, even if it doesn't produce anything marketable right away. The investment in my creativity is bound to make me and my work more appealing in the future.

Exploring and having fun and rediscovering me will also help me look at my 2010 goals afresh, so I can refocus or even let go of goals that won't help me get where I want to go or grow into who I want to be.

Please feel welcome to share your own Core Identity Traits, if you want. Or talk about your own 2010 goals and explorations. I'd love to hear about everyone else's spring growth. :D
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