Est. 2011

January 24, 2018

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Finding Your Creative Process

Today I’m sharing about finding your creative process, in partnership with Blurb Books! As I write this, I’m in the midst of publishing my first book! This book is going to be a compilation of some of my favorite gatherings I’ve hosted over the last several years. Gathering people together and creating a space for conversation, community, and creativity to thrive brings me so much joy, and I want to share that with others! The book will consist mainly of photos, and I’ll talk briefly about each gathering and what made each one special or memorable. I’m thrilled to share more about this book and the content with you in February!

Blurb is an independent, creative book-making and self-publishing platform, and they make it easy for anyone to create photo books, trade books, and magazines in print and digital. I’ve always wanted to write a book, and with Blurb’s help, that dream is becoming a reality. I have a million ideas for a book, but have always been so overwhelmed by the idea of actually narrowing down the subject matter, finding an agent and a publisher, funding large orders up front, etc. With Blurb, the process is so incredibly streamlined; their free book-making tools – I chose to use their web-based Bookify – work beautifully and are simple to use.

There are so many other topics I’d love to share about in future books: hospitality and seasonal gatherings (with recipes thrown in here and there), intentional living with children, etc. Now that my first book is done, I’m so inspired to dedicate more time to creating others! Also, be sure to check back in early February for the big book reveal and find out how you can purchase your very own copy!

Have you ever thought about creating a book of your work? What kind of book would you create? What does your creative process look like? Here are some tips and tricks for finding your creativity, and a bit about mine.

1. You have to believe that you are creative and that you can create.
When I was growing up, my younger sister Sarah always inspired and pushed me. She’s 18 months younger than I, but she was reading at the same time I was, only better. She loved reading, and always talked about the books and ideas she was reading about. She was an artist. Whatever medium she used, she produced masterpieces. She was incredibly creative. And I was always moderately jealous of her, and wished I had a speck of her creativity.

When we were about 13 and 14, she told me that I was creative, too, but just in a different way (I did, she reminded me, win the Crayola coloring contest that one year, after all). She helped me learn how to find, tap into, and express my creativity. She helped me really believe that I was created to create. Maybe I couldn’t pick up a paintbrush and whip up an oil painting the way she could, but I could page through a magazine, cut out photos and words that inspired me, and decoupage them to a heart-shaped cardboard box and slather the box with mod podge #nineties. In order to find your creativity, you have to believe it’s possible!

2. If you’re in a rut, leave your house or your studio or wherever it is you typically create. Go walk outside or go to an art museum. Put your computer and phone away and observe. Go somewhere that inspires you.
This is so important! I feel like I am in a creative rut ALL. THE. TIME. Especially when I just scroll through Pinterest all day every day and think to myself, “What else is there left to create? It’s all been done.” I personally love finding inspiration in antique stores or flower picking at a local PYO flower farm or strolling through the aisles at Home Depot. It’s these moments when I’m least expecting it that creativity will hit. I’ll see color combinations, get ideas for a DIY design, etc. And I’ll be stimulating my mind in a way that a computer does not!

3. Set goals of where you’d like to be in 6 months, 3 years, etc. Then set smaller, attainable goals. Sometimes our dreams and ideas get in the way of us actually getting stuff done.
So many times, I feel creatively paralyzed because I have so many goals and ideas and they’re just floating around in my mind. I never write them down and I never act on them. But they get in the way and then I feel like I cannot do anything because I’m just so FULL. Setting a large goal and then making baby action steps to attain that goal will help with making those dreams come true, like publishing a book!

Another example: one of my goals for the first few months of 2018 is to add a shop page to my blog. The smaller steps to achieving that include 1) sign up as an affiliate with a handful of companies; 2) hire a web designer to design the shop page; 3) meet with web designer; 4) choose items to sell; 5) develop marketing plan for shop/integrating products. You won’t ever accomplish you creative goals if you don’t make them doable. Once I make these lists (I just started using Trello and love it), I can mentally let go, which makes room for dreaming up more creative ideas!

4. When do your best ideas usually strike? Wherever it is, make sure you have a way to write down or remember the ideas you’ve come up with.
This sounds so obvious, but I always find myself thinking when I’m showering or driving. What else is there to do? And since I shouldn’t be using my phone while I’m showering or driving, I come up with acronyms to help remember the ideas I had. For example: I’m driving and thinking about work. I think of three companies I want to work with in 2018: Reformation, Article, and Home Depot, and I remember I need to email my intern. My brain remembers best if I make an acronym, so I go with H.A.I.R. (Home Depot, Article, Intern, Reformation). Certainly not rocket science, but sometimes it helps to figure out your best way to remember ideas when they strike because who knows when they’ll strike again. 😉

5. Give yourself a limited amount of time and work without distractions during that time.
This is so, so crucial, especially if you, like I, have limited time in your day. Every Tuesday and Thursday a babysitter comes, and I have several hours of uninterrupted work. This is my chance to not only get actual work done, but also think through ideas and dreams for the future. I’ll let myself work on emails for 15 minutes, then work through ideas for future workshops for 30 minutes, and then tackle ideas for upcoming blog posts for 45 minutes. If I know that I only have 45 minutes to plan out blog content, then I better do just that, and ignore everything else for those 45 minutes. No phone, Pinterest, email, etc.

6. Write everything down. It will help you brainstorm and eventually come up with your idea. Sometimes our brains are too full of ideas and it helps to start to unload.
This one is kind-of linked to #3 above in that, if our brains are too full, we need to clear them and make room. If I’m trying to think of what to sort of product or service to bring to my ideal customer, it might help to ask myself, “if I were my customer, what would I want from A Daily Something?” and then I just write ideas as they come. For brainstorming and creativity exercises, I’m a write-in-a-real-notebook kind of girl. If the list is worth keeping, I’ll transfer it to an email or to Trello. Otherwise, it just stays put in the notebook (and when the notebook is full it goes into my box of blog journals). For my first book, I made lists and lists to help me narrow down my ideas, and finally settled on my focusing on a few seasonal gatherings!

7. Creativity is a personal process and everyone does it differently. Do you need to be alone? In a public setting? Brainstorming in a group? Writing things down? Using a specific pen? Give yourself everything you need when it’s time to create.
I create my best work and come up with my best ideas when I leave the house, when I have a specific amount of time to work on something, and when I’m drinking coffee. I like to be in a public place, but completely zoned out listening to music. Sometimes I like to bounce ideas off people (so thankful for an intern starting this week), but I’m usually alone. If I’m home, my house has to be neat, a candle lit, and coffee in hand. If my home is a mess, it’s all I can think about. If the lighting is off, I get distracted. It’s important to figure out what and how external factors play into your creative process; make it personal!

To put the book together, I had to leave the house, sit at my favorite local crêperie for specified amount of time, latte in hand, and focus 100% on the book layout! I had previously sat down with my notebook and pencil, and brainstormed (and finalized) my ideas for what this first book would cover!

8. Just do it! The more you create, the more you will want to. It’s addicting, and your ideas won’t run out!
It’s easy to get bogged down by ideas of perfection, or ideas that we have to have a 5-year plan in place for our creative ideas in order to actually start taking our ideas and making them a reality. But if you just start, you’ll find that it’s incredibly addicting and you’ll want to keep going.

9. Constantly feed your creativity. Read books and magazines, unplug, get outside, go antiquing, pick flowers.
This ties into #2 above, but this applies to your life as a whole, not just when you’re in a rut. Yes, sometimes we can sit down, pencil in hand, and just come up with our best ideas. But it’s also good to constantly feed our creativity, and from sources other than people in the same field. Read historical books, watch period dramas (I have found SO MUCH inspiration in beautifully made series like Downton Abbey, The Crown, Victoria, Pride and Prejudice, etc.), walk through a hardware store, look at vintage advertisements. Sometimes Pinterest is a good place to feed your creativity, but I find that if I’m actually looking for creativity, I get discouraged and overwhelmed. Go outside, go on a run, read a magazine, go to the farmers market. Look for creativity everywhere you go, and let it feed your soul!

Sponsor Note: Although this post was sponsored by Blurb Books, all content, words, and ideas are my own. Thanks for supporting the partnerships that help keep A Daily Something running.

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