Sunday, July 13, 2008

100 Ways to Live a Creative Life, 1-25

Today I was filled with the desire to write out 100 things to do to lead a creative life.


Are you crazy girl? Don't you have kids to watch? Shopping lists to make? Novels to write? Bravery to be?

Maybe, but I was feeling grumpy and small and pulled this way and that, and I wanted to stop and think about creativity, and how I can make it part of my every day life. Some of these ways are things that I have already done, some are things that I would like to do, some are things that I don't know if I'm up to.

As I wrote out my list, some things came clear to me, though. Being creative is about seeing the world and paying attention to what it actually is. It is about questioning the old ways of doing things. It is about experimenting with media. It is about playing and having fun. It is about taking the care to see things and make things that are beautiful and meaningful and loved.

This is by no means a comprehensive list. It is only partial and really off of the top of my head. I am not a musician or a dancer or an actor, so I must admit those areas are skimpy. As are crafty projects or cooking or gardening or other creative pursuits that I know even less about. It's also rather geared towards women, sorry dudes, that's the hand I was dealt. Feel free to adjust to your masculine masculinity. It's list meant to inspire, not as a set of rules, anyway. Not every woman has kids, either, and I write from that perspective, too.

I am also going to break it up, because it is really long. So you'll have to stay tuned to see the rest. I welcome any suggestions or additions in the comments. We always need new ways to perk up our creativity.

1. Keep a small camera always on your person. Whip it out whenever something strikes you as lovely. Take pictures. Flowers, people, clouds, cars, buildings, anything you see can be fodder for your creativity.

2. Pay attention to the daily things. Take, for instance, breakfast. Don't just stand at the counter gobbling a breakfast bar. Feed your soul by feeding your body. Make your meal an event, even if a small one. Pick a flower for your table. Grace your cereal with blueberries. Use your best china. Sit outside and breathe in the morning. Imagine it is a celebratory breakfast, and what you are celebrating is your ability to be creative.

3. Turn off the tv and paint a picture instead, just for the time that you would have watched the show. Which would make you happier? Half an hour of a syndicated sitcom, or half an hour of painting a picture?

4. Carry a small notebook with you. Use this notebook specifically for creative ideas, brilliant thoughts, little sketches. Don't let those wonderful ideas pass you by, capture them in your notebook.

5. Make up stories and tell them to your kids and scribble them down when they go to sleep.

6. Fill your home with vignettes. Your mantel, your dining table, a bookshelf, counter top, bedside table. Bring out your collections and group lovely things together. Use scarves or scrap fabric for draping, books or boxes as pedestals. Group in themes or color schemes. Remember to add height. Rearrange things until they please you.

7. Find some books and/or magazines that feature creativity you admire. Read those instead of doing the crossword or while waiting on line. You can go to the library, you don't even have to buy them.

8. Take a recipe and change it up. Or take two recipes and put them together. Experiment in the kitchen. Write down what you have done and how you got there. Take a picture of it.

9. Next time someone has a birthday, make a card for them, instead of buying one. It doesn't have to be fancy if you don't want it to. Simple words, simple images, a fine doodle, a collage with stamps. Give someone your small work of art, it's worth more than a store bought thing.

10. Doodle when you are on the phone or in a meeting. Then paint the resulting doodle. Hang it up as if it were fine art.

11. Spend 10 minutes every morning before you get up writing in a journal without stopping, without reading. Just write write write. You don't ever have to go back in to the journal, just let it flow. Make it a daily practice. Yes, these are the Morning Pages.

12. Start your own list. Write down all the creative projects or ideas you would like to do. Every time you have a free fifteen minutes, take a look at the list and work on something from it. You can make it the same item every time, or pick a new thing, but it's good to have evidence of your creative ambitions. It's good to remember them.

13. Next time your kid does something creative, play along. When was the last time you did finger paints or put on a puppet show or messed with some clay? And you don't have to have kids for this one, just play like you did when you were little.

14. Get a package of balloons and blow them up. Toss them around. Draw on them with markers and make faces or flowers or monsters. Play.

15. Schedule an artist's date with a friend. Bring sketch books and draw the park. Go to the museum. Write poems and share. Go to a dance performance. Read Shakespeare out loud to each other.

16. Take a creative class. You are much more likely to spend time in your creative pursuits if you have made the declaration by signing up, and even, oh my, PAYING for that class. Make the commitment with others as witness. Do it and enjoy your You time. You earned it.

17. Remember your dreams. Write them down. Or create a song from them. Or paint them. Or collage them.

18. Create an unexpected flower arrangement. Play with colors and textures. Search for unusual additions, leaves, twigs, seedpods, fruits or vegetables, grasses, ornaments, whatever strikes your fancy. You can buy these things, or just search them out in your actual environment. Is that a weed... or a stunning arrangement?

19. Write a poem while at a stop light, or between subway stations, or while the bathtub fills, or while on line at the post office. The point is to make it quick, and low stress. Do not worry if it makes sense. It's only something you dashed off while the light changed. Let your brain flow free. You just might surprise yourself with what you end up with.

20. Carry a glue stick and scissors with you and collect little pieces of paper that you come across. Receipts, postcards, business cards, brochures, wrappers, whatever. Glue them in your journal and collage about your day. Add writing as you go or later on.

21. Shake up your wardrobe. Don't just wear the same old same old. Put on that antique necklace of your grandmother's that you never wear. Take out your fancy wedding shoes and wear them with your jeans. Put together a dress and a sweater you wouldn't normally do. Wear scarves around your neck, or your wrist. Rock it like Carrie Bradshaw.

22. Eat lunch somewhere new. Have a sandwich on the front stoop. Sit at a fountain down town. Try that new restaurant you have always been afraid/in awe of. Sit in a window and look out at the world. Lay out a blanket in your bedroom and have a picnic there.

23. Turn the tv off and look into the reflection on the darkened screened. Doesn't your room look different in there?

24. Get a deck of tarot cards and pull a card a day. As you go about your day, think about how that tarot card reflects upon what happens to you and how you react to the world. You can use other forms of wisdom, too. The I Ching, the Medicine Cards, The Bible or your Riverside Shakespeare for quotes. Heck, you could use a Dr Seuss book for this.

25. Cut open a fruit and look at what is inside. Draw it. Write a poem about it. Use it as a writing prompt. Press it in ink and make a stamp out of it. Even an everyday apple, when you cut it crosswise, looks new and different.

to be continued


Christy said...

hi rowena! I think this is the loveliest and inspiring-est (if there's such a word!) blog post i've read in a while. I love your creative outlook and philosophy. I can't wait to do these 100 things!

thank you!

johanna said...

i love this! thanks for sharing! looking forward to reading the rest :-)

cheryl finley said...

Hi Rowena,
I love this post! Being creative, living creatively and helping others awaken to theirs is what my life's work is all your post is music to my ears! I'm likin' idea #20, that should definitely make my day/week more interesting...thank you!

Idea #24 is right up my alley. I create my own tarot-like deck; I make SoulCollage cards, and offer workshops to teach others. You might like that too, you can see some of my cards here:

I look forward to coming back to your blog. And, I'm glad you came by my blog and that you liked my Venus Flytrap Mandala.

Enjoy this creative life!

Anonymous said...

I finally got my Arte Y Pico post up. Whew. Thanks again.

And I like your list!

D'Arcy said...

Love it! I just scheduled a watercolor painting date with a dear friend!! I love that we are doing this!

Great list!

Lucy said...

I love these ideas and list--definitely coming back and reading through all 100.

You should submit this to an art magazine!! Either as a 4 part series or chunk it down to the top 25 or 50!!! Be brave :)

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