Acrylic on canvas by Trudy Meehan

I wrote a post a few months ago called Digging yourself out of a creative hole…the steps. It suggested eight steps to kick start your creativity.  This post offers eight more steps. Note, you might want to go back and do the first eight before you try this next lot.  The first eight steps were….

  1. Turn off the television
  2. Stop measuring (the value  of your work)
  3. Think about stocking up on food (so that you can concentrate on creating not living)
  4. Talk to yourself (say nice things to support yourself)
  5. Treat yourself like a child (talk to yourself as you would a curious child, be kind)
  6. Open your eyes (be inspired by the visual world around you)
  7. Don’t edit…at first (allow creative process to flow and don’t inhibit yourself with right and wrong editing dilemmas)
  8. Be honest (to yourself and others, so that you can use your feelings in your creations)

The next steps are…

9. Start again

By now you will have forgotten steps 1-8 and may even have started to give up on your creative potential. You will have had a life crisis (even a very small one like the leg breaking on your table) that has given you an excuse to stay away from your creative space and avoid your work. Start again, it’s okay to get lost and forget your routine and your abilities – just start again

10. Review old work…with new eyes

Make the familiar strange, pull out your old art works or writing and look at them with fresh eyes. How do you do that? Take photos of your art work, edit these photos with software so that you can experiment with contrast, colour and definition in your work. You can do this in a big way or in a very simple way on your smart phone using Instagram or a similar editing programme.  Another nice programme to use is Animoto – in Animoto you can sequence still images and play them to music – like this REALLY cheesy slide show I made from old photos of my dogs and this one of penguins at Boulders Beach in Cape Town. This is a lovely way to reuse old images or images you don’t see any value in and to re-look at them.  Often our images will work, not dead on the page, but when we put them to work as illustration or imagery for a piece of writing or a slide show.

Other ways to relook at old work include: look at images in a mirror; scrunch images up, destroy, deface, recreate; crop images – look for something you like, it might be a pattern, colours, and textures; tear images, if you drew a figure, tear the figure off the page. The rough edges will add something new and interesting and place the figure in a new context freeing it from the blank page behind it.

11. Share

Let others see your art work or read your writing. Put your toe into creative community by sharing your work.  Work becomes bigger and better when given life in a shared space.

12.  Walk

Go for a walk, dance or move about in whatever way you can and want to.  Cold body equals cold mind.  Warm up your body and your creative imagination will warm up too.

13.  Clear a space

An artist needs a studio, or at least a table to work from. Clear your space, make space for your artistic activities. It honours your talents and sets the scene and intentions for the creative endeavour ahead. Click here to see my version of a tidy work space, it ended up looking too neat so I had to do step 14 below.

14.  Fill up a space

Once you have made a space for your creative work, you need to cosy it up. You need a creative nest not a cold empty blank canvas. Fill your work space with images and objects that inspire and excite and remind you, that can support your art work.

15.  Work fast

Free write if you are a writer, doodle and slash at the page if you are an artist. Make marks, move your hands – momentum will follow and so will artistry.

16.  Mix media

If you are a visual artist and you are at a loss from images, read, listen to audio books or music. Use the words and tunes to inspire you. One of my best images is “darkness fell like an extinguisher” from the Lord of the Flies. I love the drama and inky blackness and movement implied in it. If you are a writer, look around, use your eyes and really look and then try to describe what you see. I saw guinea fowl recently. They were running along the road and they looked like fancy ladies in full length ball gowns, holding up their skirts to stop their hems getting muddy as they ran along.  Their skinny legs clicked along as their heavy round feathered bodies bounced like the full skirts and underskirts of aristocrats. The image of them helped me create a character for guinea fowl for a children’s book I am writing that is set in South Africa.


4 thoughts on “Digging yourself out of a creative hole…more steps

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