It’s been a while but I didn’t forget. In the first two installments of this series I wrote about finding the time, and finding resources. I promised to write about physical space but since then I have come to think that that isn’t exactly thrilling. So I’ll write about that briefly and then go on to talk about finding the space for creativity in your mind. And then, maybe, there might be a last post about inspiration.
3. Finding physical space
Most creative things don’ need that much space. Again, writing is a winner, sit down anywhere with notebook and pen, and voilà, instant creativity. For music space isn’t the issue unless you want to play drum set or grand piano. Sculpting is harder but then, if you stick with your play-doh…
When I was sewing my grocery bag a student came early. My whole teaching room was full, with the fabric and the sewing machine and the ironing board. And she said that she loved sewing too, but that one really needed time for this, and a place where one can leave it all. She had a veery longing gaze in her eyes.
Of course everyone of us would like to have a crafts room but then it is possible to do it flylady-style too. She has a rolling suitcase for every project. She pulls everything out when she works on it and when she is finished for the day she puts everything back. Which is exactly what I should have done that day. I plan to empty one of the wooden boxes I have around the house and use that as my “current-sewing-project-in-progress”-box. I’ll put it under the box with all the flutes and the xylophone in it.
(And this was the point where I had written this whole post from beginning to finish while my son was first sitting in the bathtub and then later while I was waiting for him to fall asleep, and I was very good, saving it every other paragraph, and happily typing away on my palm and then it said “unexpected error” and all the rest of it is gone. Very frustrating. Sigh. But no, I won’t give up. So here’s the recreation of the rest. Who knows maybe it’ll be a little shorter.)
So, let’s talk about the big issue:
4. Finding the space in your mind
For most of us this may be the biggest obstacle of all. Our minds are full to the brim with little things and little people. Especially the little people can make the task of finding mind space really challenging. Our minds are constantly cluttered with things to do, things not to forget, places to go, people we met, things we talked about, thinks we read about, … So here are a few tips to help:
Find a little time for yourself in the morning:
Every morning I get up half an hour early to do 9 1/2 minutes of sitting meditation. You might ask, “Why does it take 30 minutes to do 10 minutes of meditation?” Well, I’m not very fast in the morning. But when I am, I also write a little in my journal. I have written about meditation elsewhere, and it really helps to clear the mind, but if you don’t want to, anything helps. Get up a little early and write into a journal, or sit down with your cup of coffee and look out of the window, or take a short walk. Just take a little time alone to hear yourself think, feel yourself before the day starts. (And if you have a child that senses when you get up, either leave it with your partner (if you can), or try to make this time as peaceful as possible with the child.)
Find a little time for yourself in the evening:
Again, just sitting down, turning off TV, radio, or mindless chatter helps. Taking a look out of the window, maybe a little walk. I like to sit down in the evenings and write into my gratitude journal. Mad Hatter sits down and blogs (Um, or not, I just read her blog and she is on blog-vacation.). Either way, taking a step back helps to clear the mind.
Find a little time for yourself during the day
Take the peace and quiet wherever you find it. Do the dishes and let your mind wander, hang up laundry with your baby in a sling, put your child in the stroller and go for a walk, sit down at the kitchen table while the children play in the next room, use the tiny scraps of time that you have, put your thinking and your creativity in the nooks and crannies of your day, and you will see that all those scraps together might result in a big, colorful quilt of thinking and creativity.
Start with clearing the physical space
You can also start with de-cluttering. Nothing refreshens the mind better than a little cleaning or de-cluttering. Only be careful not to stop there. Housework never ends. Just let your hands do the work and feel your thoughts lighten.
One of the best things for me to get out of a rut, get my mind working again, think something over, or solve a problem is a walk. All exercise is good for this. (Well, up to a certain point.) But especially good are those that have a rhythm to it and don’t require thinking. Like walking, running or riding a bike. Or maybe yoga. (Okay, not rhythmic and un-thinking as such, but it helps. I know it.)
If you want to find more mind space it also helps to turn off TV, radio, and also – gasp – the computer. All those things can be very stimulating too. But there has to be a little extra space for ideas, and dreams. So you can go and be creative.
And when you have done all that, or maybe only some of that, all you need is a notepad and pen so you can write down your ideas. And then, some other time, you make something out of those ideas. But first you have to have that space in your mind. Which exactly is the reason why we all get such good ideas in the shower or while driving. There even are waterproof notepads for that but in my experience if the idea is really that good you’ll probably still know it, once you’re dry and dressed.
So now that we have cleared our minds and started thinking, it becomes easier. Remember when you fell in love and couldn’t think about anything else but that person? That’s how it feels when you start a new creative project. And then life comes in the way, and procrastination. Of which I will write another day. The only thing that we still need for being creative is inspiration. That will be the conclusion of the creativity-series.