Creatives, I want to take time today to give you a written reference to accompany some of the early advice I give almost every client that comes through my door: to keep a creative journal, aka sketchbook journaling. With rare exceptions I recommend this to everyone, then launch into my explanation of what I mean- so here it is, for your reference: the creative journaling exercise.
Might you, Dear Creative, keep a daily creative journal? To do this you need three key elements:
And so, if you have successfully arranged your elements, here is the process I recommend to you:
Engage in the process of free response process work. In other words, we are going to have no particular goal or outcome in mind and are interested in tapping into the current of what is flowing freely through our brains. The process can include flowing freely back and forth between drawing and writing, or be focused on one or the other. It should have either a time or page limit- not to exceed 2 pages or 15 minutes- whichever is shorter, more or less.
If you are writing, you begin by writing anything- something- maybe “blah blah blah” until you have tapped into the flow of thoughts- then continue to write with them- sloppy script, incomplete sentences and words, free flow of thoughts just to release into content, until you run out of content or choose to stop. If the content is short you can return to your repeat word “blah blah” or whatever word you chose, until you tap into the next current, or you can choose to be done or change to drawing.
If you are drawing, you begin by drawing anything- try to stay away from forms that are too informative and directional like icons (hearts, stars etc) as they can keep you rutted rather than flowing- scribble or doodling are pretty good- until you are into a flow of drawing. If you are a 2D artist you might go back to some of your sketching/drawing techniques like hatching, contour with continuous line drawing, stippling, and so on.
Ok so let’s say you do this. You spend 2 pages or 15 minutes drawing/writing in your sketchbook journal, organically recording images and thoughts, every day. Why do I tell you to do this? The frustrating answer is the more you do it the more you will answer this question for yourself. The more immediate and satisfying answer is both a creative and wellness one: creatively you are generating creative energy by regular creative output and a daily creative journal is an important part of this, and from a wellness perspective you are downloading thought clutter from your brain (scientific terms) which will aid you in being more mindful and decrease symptoms fed by thinking problems like depression and anxiety.
So, Creative, will you give creative journaling a try?
(C) 2019 Creatively, LLC
Creatives: just like all of you my time is compact and any room to be creative is golden. Just like all of you the struggle to find time to do my art is real. Just like all of you I struggle to be mindful of my emotional signs and signals that I need to pump the brakes on my other “priorities” and take care of myself by making time for my art.
Remember that I always say that artists have to create to stay well?
Remember that I always say that your most important way to refuel and be well is to be creative?
Remember all the encouragement to have your own daily creative practice?
Remember all the mental health goals to be mindful of our personal state of well being, and personal and emotional needs?
As you continue to grow in these things you will begin to notice when you have to shove all else aside (and in my case) pick up a brush.
Today I am tired. Today I am spacey and disconnected. Today I am irritable. These are my early signs. Signing off, Creatives, to practice what I preach, because I will be painting.
(C) 2019 Creatively, LLC
Today I want to consider the Pareto Principle, aka the 80/20 rule: the simple idea that 80% of outcomes come from 20% of causes. It is an idea used in business, economics, safety, mathematics and more, and something I want to borrow and talk about as a model in a general sense for responsibility and decision making.
Safety management offices regularly use this model to assess risk: assuming that 80% of accidents, for example, can be attributed to 20% of risk factors. We can turn this on it’s head and consider in terms of effort and productivity: what if 80% of our successes could largely be attributed to 20% of our efforts? What if there was a key 20% of things we would do that would snowball exponentially into an 80% gain in our lives?
Oftentimes I hear from the creative artists that sit on my couch themes such as high levels of time commitments, extreme standards levels of perfection in their work, constant negative comparisons of themselves with other artists and so on. Essentially, the creative drive is in overdrive and escalate to paralyzing levels, preventing artists from doing creative work. Unfortunately what has happened is innate energy to create has turned inward into disabling pressure: we feel like no matter what we do, how hard we work, how many events we attend, how much we commit to, we will never be enough.
I think you can see where I am going with this. Twenty percent of your efforts can be responsible for 80% of your outcomes. In other words, 20% effort can be sufficient, whereas 200% effort can be disabling. It is a matter of applying the effort in the most beneficial way for your mental and creative health.
What is true is taking care of your mental health is fundamentally important to the creative flow which ultimately sets you apart as an artist. This is an important part of your 20% and not nurturing and caring for self is a nonstarter for creative success. What is also true is by not creating you are also severing yourself from your mental wellness. I hope what you are beginning to see is a creative person’s 20% looks like a balance of quality self care and regular creative practice.
The specifics of what your 20% self care and regular creative practice looks like will be specific to you. This is the work that we do at Creatively! My job is to sit across from you in a room and listen to you describe your challenges and successes in your life to help you sort out this very path to success. When you have your 20% formula in practice, you will begin to experiment the magic of your 80% success and happiness. This is the “creating well” that I am always talking about at Creatively. Get that flourishing and watch yourself begin to live your happiest life!
(C) 2019 Creatively, LLC
The information provided in this blog is from my own clinical experiences and training. It is intended to supplement your clinical care. Never make major life changes before consulting with your treatment team. If you are unsure of your safety or wellbeing, do not hesitate to get help immediately.