I’ve recently discovered that the French school system is a little different to the UK one. They start a lot younger, and the ‘Maternelle’ is basically nursery provided by the state. So far, so great. While it’s fair to say this is quite a drop in childcare costs from London, it comes with some caveats. They have a two-hour lunchtime, and an awful lot of holidays. In real terms, I’ve had an awful lot less time to write and create stuff since moving. Although she’ll get settled and go for longer soon, I’ve found myself in the difficult position of wanting to maintain my creativity, but having tiny moments throughout the day to do it. I’m sure this sounds familiar to a lot of you!
So, rather than throw it all to the wall until I get my routine back, I came up with a few ideas to keep the old creativity muscle flexing. I hope you find them useful.
1. Use Your Phone
This seems counter-intuitive (and yes, it’s tempting just to stare at Buzzfeed/the news/cat videos when I have a spare minute) but there’s one app that can change your whole perspective: your camera. As this lovely blog points out, anything can be art. The simple act of taking things in your house, on your walk or in your kid’s bedroom and looking at them in a different way is all you need to get your mind whirring along a more creative route.
2. Take a Minute
How much spare time you have will vary hugely. Be it one minute, six or twelve, you should always try to take a tiny space to stop. And no, going to the toilet doesn’t count. While the kettle is boiling, while the bath is filling, whatever it is, just STOP. Look around you. Tick through the senses to see how you feel. What do you notice? Even if you only manage a tiny window for this every day, you’ll find yourself feeling a lot calmer and more in tune with your ideas and emotions. Be prepared to need a notepad once you’ve got into the habit of doing this!
3. Lower Your Expectations
As Rebecca Solnit said, ‘perfection is a stick with which to beat the possible.’ If there’s no way you’re going to finish that short story/complete your portfolio/paint a masterpiece – at least do something. A word scribble, a sketch, an image, is far better than nothing and will give you that lovely glow of accomplishment that helps us all to live more intuitively.
4. But Be Accountable
At the same time, you also need to assign yourself some sort of goal in order to make it feel like what you’re doing is worthwhile. For writers, a word counter is great. As luck would have it, I’ve just put together an awesome word counter for 2021 that will track your words every week, four weeks and calendar month. It’s even colour coded. To get your free copy, just sign up to my mailing list here. Setting yourself small, achievable goals helps to keep you on track and give you a buzz when you succeed.
After all, that’s what creativity is all about, right? It’s easy to lose sight of in our target-addled brains that have learned that worth is attached to things that are concrete, that earn us money, that are complete and perfect. But nothing good is created without playful thinking. This can take whatever form you like. Make stuff with your kid’s Play doh while they’re in bed, do some doodles on a pad, write silly poems or make a tower out of the spice jars in your cupboard. Finding fun in the world is what will take you back to your inner creative child. Enjoy yourself!
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