Whenever I go through phases of making more with my hands – practicing lettering, doing some photo journalling, mocking up tutorial projects for you guys – I find that the more I do it, the more easily I do it the next day. It’s like my hands making something one day, has opened a little gate in my brain, reminding it how easy and fast making something can be, but also so satisfying and rewarding.
I’m going to chat a little bit about this now, and give some tips for how you can start to form creativity as a daily habit for yourself!
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Generally it takes 21 days to form a habit, but for a creatively minded person who is trying to make more time to BE creative every day, I think it is far less. For me, I think it only takes me about 3 days, honestly. I find that the biggest block for me to be more creating, really is just starting.
When I take a second and realise I haven’t made anything for the last few days (for whatever reason), it is actually SO easy to grab a marker and some paper and start doodling – I can even do it while in the middle of editing this post!
So. Here I go.
Ta-Da! I just stopped for a moment, got out my Tombows, and had a go at some more lettering. And you know what? NOW I WANT TO DO MORE! Go Go Go!
You might also like to read: Why it’s great to create with kids
Kids do this ALL. THE. TIME. Without thinking about it, without carving out time especially to do so, they are making stuff everyday. Somewhere along the line, in the process of growing up, we’ve lost our ability to just enjoy using our hands to create something.
So, it’s time to get making – anything. Create a drawing, some music, a painting, a machine, a lego maze… ANYTHING!
Just make the commitment to make for the next few days, and see where it takes you.
This is what I did, and what you can do too:
Turn the inspiration into Motivation
I’ve started following a bunch of people on Instagram and Periscope who post their lettering projects every day. One person is Random Olive, who does lettering practice live streaming on Periscope and has a bunch of downloads available on her website for practicing with.
Another is Liss Letters, who I had the pleasure of meeting at ProBlogger this year.
Are you someone who loves obsessing over each letter until you get it *just right*? My brush calligraphy worksheets are perfect for that! Sized for a small brush pen (like a pentel touch sign pen or tombow fudenosuke) they’re available for immediate download at lissletters.com. 🖊 (This is a pentel touch sign pen. My fave.)
I think the key for me is the fact that people like Olivia are out there, offering inspiration with the finished product, but then also offering motivation, showing the actual technique of the craft, showing that it’s not all that hard if you practice, practice, practice, and giving her audience information on the tools and materials she is using in her demonstrations.
When I met Melissa at ProBlogger, she did a quick design of “The Makers’ Collective” on the pencil boxes she was giving out to people (super cute!!) and I got to see how she moved the pen up close and personal. She then let me have a go of the pen to see how it worked, and this then showed me that again, with practice, I could definitely learn how to do my own lettering projects.
Side note: lefty lettering – the struggle is real people.
So when I got home, I was not only inspired by the designs of these wonderful people, but completely motivated to give it a go myself. And once I did (and created some terrible looking designs), I got one phrase that looked pretty good! And this is motivating me even more to keep going, practice more with different brushes and pens, and get better and better.
I’m definitely not spending hours each day doing this. I have a couple of Stained by Sharpie markers (which have a long flexible tip) on my desk (they are not the best for this type of stuff but it’s what I already had lying around) and my visual diary/art book next to my desk, so when the mood takes me, I just pick them up and try out some letters for 5 or 10 minutes, then get back to work!
Don’t Start From Scratch
The best way to encourage a creative block is to start with a blank page. Don’t just grab a pen, open your book and expect to create something awesome. That’s a sure-fire way to come up with something you think is crappy and discourage you from sticking at it or trying again later.
So what should you do?
Find some reference images! There’s this thing, called the internet… it basically has all the images of all the stuff, and you can find a reference image to copy (yes, COPY for practice!) to build your technical skills to the level where you are confident enough to create your own art or design. This goes for drawing, photography, design, even sewing or needle crafts (that’s why patterns exist!).
It doesn’t have to be “Art”
Another thing I’ve found lately is that even though practice makes me better at something and therefore I enjoy that type of making more each time I do it, the actual act of making can involve ANYTHING to help form the daily habit. Rafa is really into lego at the moment, so we have been building awesome cities with his wooden train tracks running through them, and setting up all the mini-figs into little scenes throughout the city.
Now, this is a far cry from my lettering practice. But just the act of making, building and using my imagination during this play has encouraged my overall creativity.
Use what you’ve got
Don’t get caught in the “I’ll start that project as soon as I’ve bought X” way of thinking. This is just a brain-gate that is closing you off to the possibilities of today. Change the project, or use what you’ve already got lying around! Chances are you’ve got a bunch of supplies at home perfectly suitable for a range of making activities.My example? I have a whole years worth of photos I need to get printed so I can put them in my 2014 and 2015 Project Life Albums. So I’ve been delaying and delaying doing any scrapbooking, because I feel like I need to have these in my possession so I can make a start. What I realised though is that I have so many “unfinished” pages with photos already printed, and a whole tonne of paper and other supplies that I can use to put a bunch of pages together, that I can actually sit down and make a page every day with what I’ve got on hand.
Make it Quick
The other thing I’ve been doing is creating quick DIY projects to write tutorials for. I feel like I haven’t done any of my own projects for a LONG time, and I put this down to having a baby, working really hard and not having enough time.
But what this has shown me is, if I just bloody well START something, it doesn’t take long at all, and is really rewarding in so many other ways.
Make a List
Have a bunch of ideas ready to roll. If you’re the kind of person to set time aside for a specific purpose and actually follow through, it’s going to be tricky to come up with an idea for something to do or make on the spot. You’ll waste precious time faffing about just getting your idea together, then more time to gather your supplies together and get started. Make a list (right now!) of ten super quick and easy things you could do in 30 minutes or less. For bonus points, make them things that you already have all the supplies for.
Just one, every day for 30 days. Now THAT is sure to form a habit!