Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Creative Constraints Revisited, and the Act of Showing Up

So, I've set on this journey to create constraints for myself. So far, I like what's happening. I'm actually creating art. I'm doing it. I'm proving to myself that I can create, curate and share. That I can set a schedule and stick to it. Is it easy? No. Is it worth being able to share my creations with the world? Absofriggenlutely! Am I getting a lot out of inspiring others to do the same? More than I ever imagined! That's actually the best part! My decision to do this was really to get me out of my creative rut, and to hold myself publicly accountable. But I wasn't really thinking about how it would inspire others to uncover their creative abilities as well. That's what it's all about, right?

The constraints I made have kept choice out of the equation. The hardest part is choosing an image to paint from, so I should remove that as well. Because I currently have this choice, I'm picking and choosing based on what I think might be easier or less time consuming. I thought the hibiscus would be a simple one, but it turned out to be way more complex than I thought. And some of the ones that I think will be hard may not be at all.

What's happening is I'm retraining my brain to look at things differently - to break what I'm seeing down to its parts: where the shadows are falling, how the object is shaped, where it falls compositionally, and more. It's tuning my eye, as well as my eye-to-hand coordination. I also feel like my handwriting has improved drastically! Too bad you can't see it with all this typing...

This has also opened me up to realize that if I do want to create something, all I have to do is schedule the regular time for it. Consistency and limitations are key. If I want to write a screenplay, or shoot a video, or paint a picture off my Instagram feed, all I have to do is be deliberate with my goal, and my time. Right now, it's just about breaking through my creative block. It's also about recognizing this process, and the importance of constraints, as well as the effectiveness of showing up.

Showing up is half the battle. Once I've decided that Wednesday night is my night to paint, Wednesday night is my night to paint. But if I'm going to be busy on Wednesday (queue Flight of the Conchords' Business Time song here), then I'm going to MAKE time on another night to make up for it. Tuesday night will be painting night, so that I can still hit my Thursday morning deadline. 

It's about showing up. It's about being consistent, not only for the audience with which you're sharing your work, but with yourself. The more constistent and routine we are with our output, the harder it is to fall out of habit. I've been making my bed every single morning for a year. Prior to that, it'd maybe happen once a week, if that. But to better prepare me for each day, I decided that it was going to become a part of my morning routine, once and for all. Now, it's the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning, because I know that if I don't do it then, it'll never happen. But I've also noticed that when I do make my bed, I am less likely to leave messes in other parts of my home. I feel a sense of order and balance, like I'm ready for anything. It also makes crawling into bed at the end of a long day all the more enticing.

Showing up creatively has also helped me with staying consistent with my exercise regime. I am much more likely to get up and go to the gym, because that's my morning hours are for. Nothing else. I know that I feel better and have more mental clarity and energy after working out than days when I choose not to. It's as simple and obvious as that. Working out means that I do better at my job, eat better foods, drink more water, and get more sleep. (Although I am up kinda late working on this post...) I find myself much more in tune now with how I'm feeling, physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

Showing up is not just important for our creativity, our brand, or our following, it's critical to our overall well-being. I speak from experience, because it wasn't until I started making time for myself, that I started to see the trickle effect in my life. It isn't living life by rules, it's living life by choice, rooted in what we know to be true about ourselves. Realizing what works and what doesn't is half the battle. Making a change to last a lifetime is a completely different story.

And it all starts with making the time, showing up, and doing the work.