I tend to think of simplicity (at least in part) as being a reduction in the number of things I own—a reduction of clutter and excess. And I tend to think of creativity as the production and proliferation of new things—new ideas, new products, new creations.
I am currently working on reducing the amount of “stuff” that I own, AND my creative work is also exploding. This means that I am constantly bringing home new tools, supplies, and equipment. In fact, my entire dining room table (normally an empty space) has now been entirely taken over by jewelry making “stuff.” I now have inventory to store and keep organized (of supplies and of finished items).
So I’ve been feeling a tension between these two parts of my current experience. I am cleaning things out and letting things go at the same time that I am stocking up and bringing home new things. And while I can argue that one is related to my personal life and the other is related to my business, I am still aware of the tension between the two.
I tend to be a bit hard on myself. (OK, OK, I tend to be a lot hard on myself, but that’s beside the point for this post.) One of the things that I’ve found myself often criticizing myself for recently is the diversity of creative ideas and projects that I am engaged in.
I write. I make jewelry in an ever-increasing number of styles, techniques, and materials. I crochet several very different kinds of items. I make a number of homemade versions of cleaners and bath and body products. I am re-engaging with woodworking. I’m playing with ideas for re-using and upcycling various materials that would otherwise be waste. I cook in more creative and less recipe-dependent ways all the time. And I’m constantly investigating new possibilities for creative work, like polymer clay, basket weaving, and metal working.
Talk about scattered! How can I ever expect to become any good at any of these if I am dabbling at them all? (At least, that’s what my inner critic keeps saying to me …)
I have a number of things I need to get done this weekend, but I decided to spend a little time making jewelry this morning because I haven’t had much chance to do that work during the work week this week. I decided to start playing around with making necklaces, which is a new thing for me.
The next thing I knew, half the day was gone and I was completely unaware of time passing. Fortunately, I also had several completed necklaces to show for it, so it wasn’t at all a waste. But I’m still fascinated by the way time just seemed to disappear while I was working.
As I continue the process of listing my creative work on Etsy, I’m learning that knowing my craft well is not enough. In addition to continuing to improve my actual craft skills, I’m also having to learn how to write good descriptions, take good pictures, edit those pictures effectively, find optimal pricing, select effective keywords, optimize shipping options, determine how to best group items (when appropriate), and figure out effective marketing and advertising campaigns. It’s a bit overwhelming just starting out.
The place where I’m encountering the greatest challenge is in getting good pictures, and good pictures are really critical for selling things online. I’ve learned an incredible amount about picture-taking and photo editing in the last couple of months, but I’ve got a long way to go. I’m still often shocked when I download the pictures onto my computer for editing to discover that they look much worse than they appeared when I was taking them.
I’ve spent most of my life thinking that I was not a creative person. I thought of creativity as some magical talent that only certain people had. I don’t think that any more.
I am increasingly convinced that all creativity stems from the ability to see life with fresh eyes. And every single one of us can learn to do that, including me. It doesn’t even matter what one’s preferred creative outlet is. It still all comes back to learning to see life with fresh eyes.
I love words. I always have … or at least I have for as long as I can remember. My mom says that from the time I was old enough to sit up by myself, she could keep me occupied just by giving me a page of the newspaper. Apparently I would stare at the words in rapt fascination for long stretches of time that would allow her to fix meals or get other things done around the house. I still love the sight of printed words—in any language. It’s still a marvel to me that we can capture thoughts from our minds with scribbles on a page. I suppose it’s no surprise, therefore, that I grew up loving to read and to write.
I also love the sound of words. Sometimes the sound of a certain word will capture my attention, and I find myself marveling over the sound of each letter and each syllable, how those sounds fit together, and how the word feels in my mouth. This happens with new words (to me) and to words that I use all of the time. In those moments, it’s as if they are suddenly highlighted by a spotlight in my mind that makes them exotic all over again.
I’ve been on a major creative roll lately. I’ve never known anything quite like this. I have more ideas than I have time to work on them, and these ideas are for creating things that don’t come with a pattern. That doesn’t sound like much, but this is unprecedented territory for me.
I’ve never considered myself to be creative. I only cooked dishes for which I had a recipe. I only made craft projects for which I had a pattern with clear instructions. I never colored outside the lines.