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The Creative Habit

Welcome and Introductions!


Alice Creason
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This group is for anyone and everyone who wants support and a little accountability on the way to building a daily creative habit. 

Introduce yourself here!

Do you already have a well-established daily creative habit? Have you been trying to build one? What do your current habits look like? 

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I'm Alice, and I've been trying to establish a daily creative habit for what feels like forever. Sometimes I get some momentum going and can keep it up for days, weeks, even months. But, then life delivers a smackdown, and I have to start all over again.

My primary areas of making are embroidery/needlework, weaving, and drawing. But, I also dabble in paper crafts and other areas.

I live in the far south suburbs of Chicago with my husband and our cat, Chi. By day I am a systems librarian at a private university where I am also an adjunct instructor for art history.

Edited by Alice Creason
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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm so excited about this group, @Alice Creason! Thank you for starting it!

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So, hi. I'm Kim. And as you all likely know, I started my daily creative habit a few years ago, by doing a Year of Making. I had never succeeded at any kind of daily project before that, and I had tried many of them. I was certain I didn't have the conviction or the commitment or the creativity or whatever. Until I found an approach that worked with me instead of against me, and it changed everything about my creative experience.

I did a YoM for several years straight, and at this point I hardly think about it. I probably make something every day, but my habit is strong – it's my normal now to be making things, so I may notice when I skip a day or a week, but I no longer fret that I'll have to work on reestablishing the habit. The habit is the part that's a constant. I honestly didn't think I'd ever write these words; it's a really great feeling.

But. Of course there's a but!

But there are more things I want to do, and I specifically struggle with putting in the time and effort to learn new things that I find difficult. For example, I have wanted to learn how to draw better. I have no, however, ever succeeded in committing to drawing daily.

So that's what I'm doing here and now. Except maybe not exactly now. But I need to do this, and I'd appreciate the nudging and cheering and check-ins our community is so good at providing.

There, I said it out loud. I want to do a minimum 30-day daily drawing project.

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I’m Sandi, and all I want for last Christmas is to finish something. ANYTHING, but preferably something for me that I could wear.

That sounds selfish but over the past few years I realized that I don’t have much of my own work to wear, not in the knittables department, anyway (I’m primarily a yarn person). I discovered that stuff I have knit previously either doesn’t fit any longer or went off to live with other people. (To be fair, I have a number of pairs of earrings and some necklaces that I wear that I have made/designed, but I really want some yarnly to wear!)

I’m nearly done with a hoodie, as many of you know. I’ve got about a half-dozen rows left on the buttonband, and then a couple of seams to sew up, buttons to find and sew on, and maybe then I can post a pic of me wearing it.

Here’s a photo of Tim using his tail to point out things he finds objectionable (at least that is what I think he’s doing).

 

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Hi ladies! Thanks @Alice Creason for starting this!

I did a 30 day doodling habit in January and it went great. And then February hit and I floundered with what to do creatively. I'm also moving/selling/buying a house so I didn't want to take on too much.

I think drawing is where I need to go back to because I just need a sketchbook and pens. 

Here's to a creative habit!

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Hi all,

I haven't checked in here in a couple weeks because I have been experiencing some not-great side effects from my recent surgery that have caused some serious diminished quality of life issues. So, I've been kind of a wreck recently, which makes it ironic that I'm the one who has started this group -- kind of a "physician, heal thyself" kind of thing.

Yeah, I fell off the creative habit bandwagon in a big way the past couple weeks.

I suspect there may be some "prerequisite procrastination" going on as @Kim Werker put it so well in the podcast earlier this month. I feel so behind in work -- both my library work and teaching/grading -- that I tell myself I can't work on my creative project(s) because I "have to" grade all the things/prep for class/pull those database stats/etc. At the same time, I am so wiped out most of the time that I don't do those things either and end up doing no-value activities like checking Facebook and watching YouTube videos.

So, I am caught in this downward spiral right now, and I am hoping that by being honest about it and posting here, that I can begin to pull myself out of it and make some healthier decisions about how I spend my time.

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@Alice Creason welcome to life 🙂 and way to be honest. After reading this I breathed a sigh of relief and thought "oh it's not just me floating along and feeling like I'm playing catch up and wondering what should I be doing". 

I'm exhausted by 8pm every day, with bouts of needing a nap but no time for it at least 2 other times during the day. Sickness, work, or anything that taxes me beyond the usual ordinary life things will derail me very easily. 

Getting my house packed and ready to sell while living in it has been my derailment. I've squeezed some doodling and making in here and there but could work a teensy bit more to make a sustaining habit of just 5 minutes of make time.

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Ugh. @Alice Creason I'm so sorry to hear about the complications from surgery. Can nothing in life ever go smoothly? This is a question I've been asking a lot lately, with fists balled up and shaken at the skies.

Sometimes mindlessly scrolling Facebook or watching videos is all we can expect of ourselves while our body is wrecked and fighting so hard to heal. Sometimes, that's exactly what we need.

Sounds like you're trying to maintain life status quo even as you've been feeling dreadful. That's a tall order, my friend, and one I suspect no one expects of you but yourself.

Are there folks at work who can help unburden you of your work-related obligations? Surely no one will expect you to be working hard while you recover from surgery?

Please don't feel an obligation to this group right now, but please do count on us for company through the magic of the internet, and for talk of creativity while your body and mind work up the strength to make things.

Sending much love!

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Oh, @Alice Creason, I am sorry you have been having such a terrible time! I’m glad that the surgery is behind you, and that you are on the mend despite your difficulties. 

I am also very glad you posted this here, because you (and you, @Kuchylm, as well) are describing me and my challenges this past week or two—so at least I am not alone in my struggles! After the last few months of illness and snow storms and power outages and family drama and more snow and whatever, I feel as though my to-do list is screaming at me. 

I am so incredibly behind. I know this, because last month, I started a primitive sort of bullet list, trying to get things on paper so they didn’t keep me awake at night. That did help the nighttime anxiety some, but then...then I realized how long the bullet list of tasks was, and how many tasks there were on there which I had procrastinated about which were now pushing up against due dates, and so on.

I responded by trying to do the anxiety-inducing things as fast as I could go through them—so the anxiety would go away as well. Some of these tasks I had procrastinated about because they were HARD to do, so in trying to push through the hard stuff as fast as I could, I may have knocked my own feet from beneath myself. I’m emotionally wrung out (and feeling needy, which I hate hate hate), and my energy level is dipping into reserves at this point.

There’s a nasty cycle here. I try to do All The Things, lose energy, don’t have energy to be social online, so end up feeling needy, try to resolve that by doing lots of things, and then we are back around again.

Then I noticed something else: I, too, put my creative time at the end of the list, because I have been using my creative time as a treat, or a reward, the kind where one says, “If you finish cleaning the bathroom and then do 3 things from your list, AND it’s close to end of the day, THEN you can go spin for a half-hour before M gets home”. (I think using creative time as a reward/bait is another form of prerequisite procrastination.) In other words, if I have energy during the middle of the day, I really ought to be using it to complete more list items, rather than “frittering away the daylight hours” (that may or may not have been a quote from a figure in my family...) by knitting or spinning or whatever.

I especially feel guilty if I take creative time if anxiety-provoking items (the ones Eva calls “peace bringers”) are still on the list. Especially if they are time-sensitive.

This isn’t helpful, I know. I never realized I was using creative time as bait, more or less, as a reward for getting my chores done. To be fair, this is what I was taught growing up. My mom, a SAHM for most of my childhood, had a schedule in mind for each day, and she felt very strongly that one ought to be doing “work” or “chores” during business hours. She herself did her chores and worked on her to-do list all morning until about 11:30AM. Then she would allow herself a half-hour to an hour for lunch, during which she would read a novel for herself. After time was up on lunch, she’d work again until after dinner, when we kids were doing chores. For her, after dinner was her time, time to watch TV, read, work on her own sewing projects, etc. The same was true for us: After our chores were done, we could do whatever we wanted to do. But the work had to be done FIRST.

The more I think about it, the odder this seems to me, now that creativity is more or less my life’s work. Why isn’t creative time part of “work” for me these days? It used to be; or rather, it used to be something I valued enough, and felt others valued enough, for me to give it the gravitas of something which earned its own calendar slot. Now, particularly in the past few years, my feelings have shifted so that once again I am using creativity as a carrot in search of checking off as many bullet items as I can. 

When I put it that way, it sounds silly. But changing this attitude is a real challenge for me. The concept of scheduling  creative time makes so much sense to me. If only it were so easy to re-program the voices in my head!

 

 

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In other news: I have complete Row 4 of the button band on my hoodie. I have three more rows to knit, then the Bind Off row. YAY!

And in other other news: Reports of each row in the hoodie button band being over 4,000 stitches each are greatly exaggerated. I did a triple-recount, and the actual number is a much more reasonable 516 stitches per row. This means I have 1548 stitches left to work, then 516 stitches to bind off, then done!

Thought: I must be getting royally tired of this buttonband thing if I am now counting down the actual stitches instead of rows remaining to complete...

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On 2/28/2020 at 2:39 PM, Sandi Wiseheart said:

Then I noticed something else: I, too, put my creative time at the end of the list, because I have been using my creative time as a treat, or a reward, the kind where one says, “If you finish cleaning the bathroom and then do 3 things from your list, AND it’s close to end of the day, THEN you can go spin for a half-hour before M gets home”.

YES. THIS. SO MUCH THIS.

This is what we need to change, everyone. We've got to start putting OURSELVES first. The laundry, the grading, the grocery shopping, the conference call...they can all wait. We ALL DESERVE to spend 5, 10, 15, 30 minutes just for ourselves EVERY. DAY.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi, I'm Lori. I spend a lot of time thinking about making things (other than dinner) but am trying to spend more time doing. I started a blanket during the zig-zag crochet-along using Kim's Craftsy/Bluprint class to learn how. I was going along great and then life got in the way and the project sat in a bag for a while. During the MIMU workshop I started working on it again and I want to keep up my daily crochet time.  Also, last year I did Show Me Your Drills, learning the basics of modern calligraphy with brush pens. I went on to learn the lower-case letters and how to join them but still haven't learned the upper-case letters so I'm trying to set up a daily practice for that. It is really something that needs to be practiced every day even if just for 5 minutes

I have a lot of creative things I'm interested in, all of which I little or no experience with, and my goal is to try my hand at as many of them as I can this year. Embroidery, hand applique, sewing, needle felting, drawing, painting, art journaling and more but even if I only get to one or two I'll be okay with that. 

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Hi @Lilly.O.4 ,

I love the hand lettering trend. People are doing some beautiful things with brush pens. I can understand what you mean about needing to practice it every day.

I love that you're dedicating this year to learning new things! Can't wait to see what you do!

 

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  • 1 month later...

Hi everybody! I'm Kimberly, and somehow I didn't realize this club was here until I heard Kim mention it on the podcast.


So many things folks are saying about creative time and struggling to prioritize it are resonating with me. I'm wondering what might happen if we reframe it.

What if we considered it meditation time? Repetitive crafts like knitting, crochet, and cross-stitch can have that effect. (The scholar-librarian in me wants to track down a reference/link for this. The human in me is granting me a pass.) What if this wasn't an indulgence, but a matter of health? What if it were like a dietary supplement or a daily medication?

I think the circumstances of my learning crochet help me think this way. I bought my first hook, yarn, and pamphlet while I was stopped at Wal-Mart to grab supplies to help with a migraine that was debilitating enough I had gone home from student teaching because of it. I took them back to my boyfriend's house (I don't think he was there, but I preferred his house to mine, always. Now he's my husband and we have just one house between us) and in addition to my usual migraine remedies, I applied crochet. I think having it to focus on helped me ignore the pain, almost. So I really do think of crochet as an OTC migraine remedy.

If you aren't motivated by the capitalist notion that your productivity is the highest good (I am, though I'm trying to break myself of it), what if you think of your creative time like food, exercise, or a nap? Something that, if you grant yourself the time to do it, will leave you renewed, with fresh vigor to apply to your other tasks?

These are just thought experiments, not proven advice. But I think I've written enough now to consider this as a blog post topic, so thanks for helping me workshop this post!

 

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On 5/7/2020 at 1:43 AM, Kimberly Hirsh said:

If you aren't motivated by the capitalist notion that your productivity is the highest good (I am, though I'm trying to break myself of it), what if you think of your creative time like food, exercise, or a nap? Something that, if you grant yourself the time to do it, will leave you renewed, with fresh vigor to apply to your other tasks?

These are just thought experiments, not proven advice. But I think I've written enough now to consider this as a blog post topic, so thanks for helping me workshop this post!

 

 THIS. All of it. (Did you write the blog post? I should pop over to your blog and see!) 

The whole idea of productivity being the highest good, and how so many of us as Makers (may) have incorporated that into our psyches, is rather unsettling. It rings true, but I wish it didn’t, if you know what I mean. 

This concept is very helpful, I think. Stayed tuned. 💖🧶🦄🌷

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Blog posts can be a beatch to get started on. I have one of those idea lists, too.

Something which works is for me to start out writing FOR ME, write a little bit about how I am doing that day, WHAT I am doing today...and then, poof! It’s a stealth blog post!  Well. I edit out the personal stuff later, it’s just a way to get my fingers moving on the keys.

Another thing which works sometimes is to think of a topic and then, again for yourself, start writing your opinions about whatever it is. It’s for you, so snark away, complain, or praise and clap. I find that I almost always have an opinion of some sort (!!) about something related to the blog post, and it’s easy to write one’s opinion. Usually! And I again snark/YAY my way into the beginnings of a blog post.

OR one thing I do if all else fails, I go back and look at recent comments, and begin with “Dear Emma...” as though the post is a letter, and refer to the reader’s questions or comment. Readers love to be called out by (first) name. And I get the best ideas from the comments.

Not sure if you wanted advice on how to get started. Sorry. I am just very pleased that my writer’s block is, well. Shhhhhhh. (not here now) so I’m a little giddy about writing right now.

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LOL. Not by chance; I suspect that I got each idea above from someone whose writing I admired. Did you manage to write a post? Let us know when you have something you’d be OK with us reading, and give us the link, please. (Yeah, I can totally find your blog in a nanominute, but I’d feel better knowing it’s OK with you that some of us come on over into your space. LOL)

Regarding writer’s block: I don’t know if you are into this sort of thing or not, but if you are Ok with ghost stories—Haunted Modern Southern U.S. almost Gothic ghost stories—then I highly recommend Bag of Bones (that’s the Wikipedia link; don’t read the plot summary unless you want all the spoilers; I link here instead of Amazon because it seems many people have not-so-happy feelings about Amazon right now). I also highly recommend listening to the unabridged (loooong, hooray!) audiobook which is read by the author. 

The plot centers around a novelist who has severe writer’s block, and the passages describing this are dead-on. Well. As on might expect from Stephen King. 🙂. I buried the lede here, that the book is by King, because non-King readers have a horrific image of what King’s books are like; while that image is true for most of his stuff, this is one book where the gore factor is relatively low (no guts no weird space aliens eating anyone, no exploding anythings). This book is unusual amongst his others because of the relatively ... muted... violence content. It is definitely not violence-free; it’s just that this book has about the same level of violence as your average modern murder mystery, which is several levels down the violence scale for King. The violence includes gunshots and physical assault (neither are described in gory detail) and the historical and emotional violence in the backstory of the ghost, because, well, ghosts don’t come and haunt unless they have a beef to settle with someone, now, do they? Trigger warnings for guns, rape, drowning, suicide, truly abusive grandmother, and murder/death of a child, all part of the reason Ms Ghostie got her Haunting License.

That and his nonfiction book On Writing have given me so language, at least, to talk about my own writer’s socks (you have to read the book for that one). 

I know; am weird to get my comfort re: writer’s block from Stephen King, but then, well, yes, I am an odd duck, aren’t I?

Hey. I haven’t listened to BofB for years. Time for a re-listen, what a treat! (for me....)

S

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On Writing is so good. But I can't do death of a child right now. I wouldn't say I have writer's block exactly. I can write, I just have to give myself permission to write about whatever I feel like writing instead of anything I planned to write. Also, y'all are always welcome in my internet space.

 

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  • 1 month later...

Today I am starting a 30-day challenge of anything creatively crafty! I like what I'm hearing on this forum and in Kim's podcast about no rules other than just doing something creative each day. I'm learning to crochet!

I'm submitting my post now rather than rewriting and rewriting and deleting and rewriting it again. Short and simple - it's good enough!

8/21/2020 Time to update:  I'm not sure if this is where to do that or not...  I completed my 30 day challenge with one missed day. Many of the days were painting and repainting the base layer of a rock but mainly it seemed that the challenge for me was building a habit of walking downstairs to my craft table daily, even if only stopping by for a couple minutes. I also painted a clothespin (see photo) which I enjoyed doing probably 20 years ago until someone thought it was a useless thing to do, and I believed them, so I stopped. But I'm getting back to creating things again. I ordered a set of acrylic paints to do more rock painting with colors I like better and plan to give one to my sister. So that's the update. Kim, I appreciate your forum and now I'm going to get back to your Crochet: Basics & Beyond and try my hand at a granny square! Cheers!

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Edited by Cindy26
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@Sandi Wiseheart I finally "wrote" the blog post about creative time as meditation time, which consisted mostly of copying and pasting my post here with a teeny bit of editing. (Take that, prerequisite procrastination!) I have a number of other blog post ideas floating around as forum posts or collections of tweets, and I think now I am going to embrace this sort of repurposing of my writing more.

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@Kimberly Hirsh You know, I just recently started thinking about repurposing my writings in various places for my blog. It would help me post more often, which would make me happy (and apparently, it would make my readers happier, too). It’s not as though I don’t write very much each day; the only days where I write fewer than 1500 words are days when I am sick or REALLY busy. It’s just a matter of where I have written my usual couple of thousand words a day.

Apologies for the twisted double negative phrase back there. Attempt at humour got lost in the tangle. I meant that writing a bunch of words a day is not one of my problems, oddly enough. So, when I say I am blocked in terms of my blog, hmm. Wonder what I mean there. Ah. Perhaps it is that I feel unable to write words for public consumption, I bet that’s it. I can give you 1500 words on various topics, no problem—but only if I don’t have to show those words to anyone. (Interesting.)

I think I also have to get used to a concept that many many bloggers embraced long ago: I do not have to have a whack of photos in every single post. Personally, I love photos on other people’s blogs, and think that sometimes, they are the best part of a post! But come on. I don’t need a half-dozen pics per post. Three. Three could be a good number. Or even two. Heck. I’ve seen Steph write lots of posts without a photo, or perhaps only a pic of the sock of the day. However, she IS the Harlot, and I a mere mortal, so there’s that. 😂

Wow. I just had a big personal lightbulb go off right there. Not ready to share it yet, but see? This is what writing does for me. It opens me up, helps me to connect to others (and vice versa), and lets me see into some fascinating interior landscapes. It also keeps me off the streets and out of trouble. Mostly.

Is it cookie time yet? I think it’s cookie time. Definitely cookie time. I hope y’all can safely and quickly get to the cookie nearest you. 

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@Sandi Wiseheart
After repurposing that post, I also repurposed some old tweets and I think tomorrow I might hunt down some old emails where I gave lengthy advice that might be useful to more than just the person who asked for it. I also learned something new today (how to use open source software called Phplist to self-host a mailing list instead of using MailChimp or similar) and will try to write that up soon.
 

Also? I rarely use pictures. If you stick with 1 - 3, I think that's fine.

 

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