Last week I looked back on and celebrated my creative accomplishments for 2015 and this week I’m thinking about what I want the coming year to look like. I’ve been feeling conflicted lately about how best to spend my creative time: should I be playing and experimenting, or making products to sell? Should I diligently work through my list of ideas, or let inspiration guide me? I was hoping to come up with a concrete plan to share with you, something that would resolve these questions and tell me exactly what I should do every day. As is often the way with creativity, however, I’m finding it hard to analyse and organize it. My creativity doesn’t seem to want to submit to lists and deadlines. This is really hard for my analytical side, which is surprisingly strong for an artist, to handle. But I’m trying to make peace with it.
So, instead of sharing my plan for what I hope to accomplish this year, I’m sharing my creative values with you. The things that are important to me and that will hopefully shape my decisions when I’m trying to divide up my time. These are things that I want more of and though it seems impossible that I could ever have all of them, I’m willing to try. Because when it comes to creativity, we can’t always tell it what to do. We can make space for it, and guide it and hope that it comes along for the ride.
As Elizabeth Gilbert says in Big Magic, “All I know for certain is that this is how I want to spend my life–collaborating to the best of my ability with forces of inspiration that I can neither see, nor prove, nor command, nor understand.”
This is where I hope to take my creativity in 2016:
I want to feel like I’m walking my talk and engaging with my creativity every single day. Whether it’s by taking a photo, describing something interesting that I saw, doing a quick sketch, working on a piece of art, or playing with paints, I want to create something, no matter how small, every day. There’s this amazing daily goal tracker that I used last year for a different goal that I might use again to track my daily creative activity. It’s a simple thing, but I find that when I make it a conscious priority, big things start to happen for me.
I want to give myself permission to dive in deep with my projects, to lose track of time and let my intuition carry me along. I want to experience that blissful feeling of being at the edge of my competence, always pushing myself a little bit further. Usually when I’m working on something, I’m thinking about what I want to work on next, or what other things I should be doing. I want to learn to be fully immersed in the process at hand. This means I need to work on my focus, and I need to choose projects that will engage me fully.
Stop feeling limited by time
Any time I sit down to make something, whether it’s a blog post, a drawing, a collage, a sculpture, or a linocut print, I always feel like my time is limited. I usually feel like I’m rushing to finish something in a small space of time and that there’s never quite enough. I feel this way about most of my life, actually. Despite what I’ve written about making time for creativity, feeling a lack of time is always a huge obstacle for me. Maybe it’s because I have space-time synesthesia (which means that I see time as a physical object or space circling around me) and I feel a very visceral reaction to it. I would love to find a way to open up and, at least once in a while, feel like I have all the time in the world.
I want to continue trying new things, playing with new media and rediscovering media that I’m already familiar with. For Christmas I made Matt a watercolour painting of a text he sent me. I was intimidated at first by the watercolour, since I hadn’t used it since I was in school, but I set my fears aside and just played. I knew he would love it no matter what. I want to do that more often, creating without a paying audience in mind, just for the pure joy of seeing what I can come up with. The Creative Experiment was a great way to structure this, and the Drawing Project is helping, but I feel like there’s more that I could be doing.
I want to take more classes, online and in person, and improve my skill level. The two workshops that I took this year were so rewarding and I want to make learning a regular part of my creative practice. In addition to classes, there are about a million (give or take) library books with interesting projects that I want to try. I also have a subscription to Creative Bug, which has all kinds of artsy and crafty classes that I hope to take part in.
Producing high quality work
In amidst all the playing and learning and growing, I want to produce work that I can sell and be proud of. I want to make more of an effort to show in galleries and sell work online and at craft shows. I’m hoping that a commitment to playing and growing will help make my artwork stronger.
Making my ideas a reality
I have SO many ideas for things I would like to make: sculpture ideas, card ideas, block printing ideas, and so much more. I keep all these ideas in a notebook and I look at them regularly but I actually do so few of them. Every year I plan to work through the list, but somehow it never happens. I feel bad about all these ideas, sitting around, waiting for me to bring them into the world. I know that I either need to commit to making them, or let them go so that maybe someone else can use them. Figuring out how to prioritize these ideas while still leaving room for new ones and for other deadlines is definitely one of my biggest challenges.
Make a plan
I still want to try to make a plan for my creativity, to help bring the greatest amount of productivity and satisfaction to my year. I’ll keep thinking about it, but I’ll try not to worry if I don’t come up with anything concrete.
What do you want your creativity to look like in 2016? Do you have concrete goals, or just vague feelings? Leave a comment below!