Monday, January 30, 2012

time to face the music: I'm no longer your muse

Nate and I both get a kick out of being creative. It fuels us. It gives us energy when life starts getting old.

I often hear people say, "I'm just not creative." That's sad because life requires creativity--not just in design or art, but in everyday activities. I think that everyone is creative--even if they failed art class or can't master Photoshop. (I always tell Nate that I want to be a really creative mom. I don't want to always rely on timeouts or counting to three. There have to be more creative ways to discipline children.)

Creativity can be learned just like any other skill. The problem is that it's a little more ambiguous or abstract than playing the guitar or cooking. It's difficult to instruct someone how to be creative. And if you become too focused on creativity for creativity's sake, you might be completely unsuccessful in your objective.

I'm sure none of you have spent hours on Pinterest getting all kinds of great ideas only to never actually do any of them. Ya, me neither.

I'm convinced that you could type in "cute bowling bag ideas" and get thousands of results for tutorials on how to make cute bowling bags. It's amazing the quantity of inspiration that can be found on that site. It's also completely overwhelming and can become discouraging instead of inspiring.

It may seem a little counter intuitive, but I find that the best way to increase my creativity is to give myself limits. Sometimes life gives you natural limits, but other times you have to impose them on yourself.

So how do I limit myself to increase creativity? Just pick some aspect and limit it: time, money, space, tools, etc. Like I said, often life provides natural limits.

When I threw the shower last week, I limited myself by only doing flowers and candles. I could have made a million decorations and the guests would have been overwhelmed (and I would have been too). Instead, I was able to focus and achieve my original vision (even when I was momentarily derailed by daisies).

When I threw the Halloween party last October, I gave myself $15 and headed to the dollar store. (That's 15 things! I was able to get napkins and spider rings and table cloths. Oh, and food was not included in that budget.) I could've spent a ton of money or time. Instead, I found a photo of a creepy path in a magazine and used that as my inspiration for the party. 

The experience that has probably taught me this lesson the best is redoing our house. It's easy to design and decorate a dream home in your mind. But things get a little more hairy when you are limited by square footage and plumbing and, most importantly, money. We've come up with a lot of really great solutions and ideas that I don't think we ever would have considered had we built our own house with a huge budget or bought a turnkey property.

The funny thing about limits is that they almost always produce a better end result. They allow us to focus and do one thing really well.

Sometimes I look at my limitations as restrictions. Instead, I need to remember that they give me focus in a world where I am constantly overwhelmed by options. I need to start viewing my limits as advantages--they force me to change my perspective and think beyond the norm. All of the sudden my excuses for putting off my great ideas become the very motivation I need.

So browse Pinterest and blogs and get inspired. Then use what you have (including your limited time, limited money, and unlimited creativity) to create something.

Of course then you can feel totally awesome about posting it to Pinterest for others to copy be inspired by.


Margaret said...

Weren't you telling me the paradox of choice? When options are limitless (not like the movie Limitless with all those drugs), we become paralyzed by the ramifications of each option. That's why online dating is hard for people who see so many people they could be with. There was an article about that, so I'm not making it up. Promise. Online dating = Halloween parties and baby showers

Amanda said...

Love this post, M.C. I hadn't thought about it this way, but it's totally true. I think so often I say, "This is the best way to do it, and since I don't have time/money/resources to do it that way, I can't do it," which is totally not true! I feel inspired to be more creative and not give up on things just because there are limits. They can be my friends. :) And I like that you added time to the list of constraints. That's the one that gets me the most—instead of finding something I can do with the time I have, I just wave the white flag too often.

Shelby Kendall M. said...

I really enjoyed this post. Infact, I thoroughly enjoy all of your posts! This was a great idea - to give yourself limits. I've never thought of that, but I think it would help me a lot. You're so right about seeing other people's creativity and instead of getting inspired, you may become overwhelmed and discouraged. I do that to myself constantly! I've decided to delete my blog because I'm simply not as talented a blogger as a lot of women out there, and I only let it discourage me when I read awesome blogs (like yours.. don't take that the wrong way!) I just become competitive, and like you've also said, you should focus on how hard you're working. I am plenty creative in other ways, so I think I will limit myself to what I REALLY enjoy doing, and just appreciate the talent of those that can blog magnificently! You really have inspired me M.C. Thanks!!!!

Amanda said...

I had this post in mind yesterday when I produced a pan of caramel swampy muddy stuff instead of the stand-up caramels I'd meant to made. (Soft-ball stage is a mystery to me sometimes.) It tasted good, but was such a gooey, crazy mess. But—thinking what you said about limits and finding creative solutions—instead of scrapping the pan and trying again, I scooped some into a jar to melt for caramel sauce over ice cream (YUM!) and then dropped the rest in balls onto parchment paper, froze them, and dipped them in chocolate for some very yummy treats. I felt so empowered! I wanted to report so you'd be proud of your influence. :)