Lately, I’ve fallen into a pattern of questioning everything I do and make. What is the purpose of this story, photograph, project? Does it serve the larger goal it set out to? Will it matter to anyone else but me? On and on my mind goes in a whirl of sense-making and plot lines drawn on a grid.
By nature, I’m not the kind of person who creates linear outlines. Markers, thought bubbles, drawings on index cards are in my create order in the stream of chaos art kit. I make the work, shift and tweak as I go, then return with new insight. Sometimes, okay most times, I throw myself in the way, get bound up in a tangle of ropes and tie myself to a train track just as an oncoming train approaches. Oh, the cliche I moan walking away.
That’s when I know I need a break. Change the scenery. Take a walk or a hike. Unearth an unfinished art projects. Pull out a needle and thread. Do whatever necessary to turn off any emotional attachment to outcome. After all, there is a reason some people choose to keep reserve their creative passions for free time instead of turning it into work, the essential act of creating for its own sake remains pure.
To examine one’s own work is necessary, after the fact not before. Even within the editing process, space for creative bursts of freewriting or drawing should be made. Work in drafts or editions. If you sully up a project, it can be tidied up (or not) later. Here’s a list of what I’m doing to allow my inner editor to take the day off while I recharge.
10 Ways To Recharge A Creative Project
1. Get outside. Walk, hike, draw circles in sand. Change your perspective and breathe in some fresh air (even if it’s bitter cold).
2. Jump rope, skip, gallop, dance, swing.
3. Make a collage in 15 minutes. Don’t over think it (this is important). Rip text and photos from magazines and old books. Glue them to a large index card or piece of cardboard. Get messy, surprise yourself.
4. Take an hour off. Go to a museum or gallery. Document everything that interests you with a camera and notebook. Use this field research in a creative project.
5. Write a letter to someone who’s work you admire. Send it or file it away as you see fit.
6. Lie down on the floor. Close your eyes. Listen to a classical music piece for 10 minutes. Pay attention to the music. Lose yourself in it.
7. Show spontaneous and genuine gratitude. Write a Thank You note to someone who made a positive impact on your life.
8. Go to the movies in the middle of the day. Study one aspect of the film while watching it: character, dialogue, plot, sense of place. Examine what worked and didn’t work. Apply this critique to your finished projects. Remove emotions and attachments.
9. Read that classic novel you’ve had on your list to read (forever).
10 (a). Write or draw in your journal with markers, colored pencils, watercolors, or crayons. Let go of perfectionism, notice what comes to mind, record it.
10 (b). Wash dishes by hand. Skip the dishwasher and go elbows in the sudsy water. Boring repetitive chores work wonders on the brain. (This one was a last minute addition inspired by the very talented Ann Mah. Thanks, lady!).
What steps do you take to recharge your work?